Sunday, January 4, 2009

Chiziked?

So I was a little conflicted when I first heard about Gene Chizik's decision to go to Auburn. Obviously, as a career move, it was a step up for him; I won't diminish him for that at all. The funny part to me was a couple of days afterward when he asked to meet with his old team once more. I wasn't in the room, but I have heard the same thing from a number of people that were. Accounts say it was a 90 second to 3 minute session where the "CEO" coach told his guys it was something he had to do for his family and that it was his dream job. By all accounts, he didn't look one person in the eye. By a number of other accounts, he didn't talk to his old staff in the time leading up to the meeting and in the time immediately after.

I'm sure Gene Chizik talked to the coaches he wanted to come with him, and to several players and recruits in the days after his meeting, but I know he didn't talk to the parents of every one of his recruits. In talking with one of those families (and not the Bofellis), all they wanted was 30 seconds....a sorry I had to go, but I had to and best of luck to your son, I know he'll do a great job. This is the same man that demanded his new players come in and meet him, one at a time, while sitting behind his desk with his national championship ring on, and demanded they sit up straight and look him in the eye.

In 2006, Gene Chizik thought he was walking into a group of people that didn't know how to work hard. Because if you work hard at Texas or Auburn, you win…and ISU didn't win in 2006. What he got was a group of kids that were tough, but not talented enough. He set about trying to bring it more talent, which he did. He put together a staff of people he could trust...as he told me when we first met... his phone had 1000's of contacts, in his words much more than the normal person, that he could rely on and that wanted to be part of his staff. He picked only the best.

I'll admit, I probably didn't give Gene a fair shake at first. I was still upset Coach Mac was gone, even though I know it was probably the best thing for everyone. If we were going to get rid of the winningest coach in school history, a man that loved the state of Iowa and its athletes, who, no question are limited in supply, we damn sure better get a staff that can coach and recruit at a whole different level. Almost immediately after the new staff came on board, I heard feedback from coaches around the state that ISU didn't care about their kids anymore and didn't think they were good enough. In fact, the 2006 4A state champions were told they didn't have a kid good enough to WALK ON at ISU. I was not comforted by this news...your heart comes from the state of Iowa. Ask Johnny Majors, Earle Bruce or Dan McCarney – they’ll tell you priority one should be getting the best kids in the state of Iowa.

After watching the 2007 Cyclones lose to Kent State, UNI and Toledo and be completely destroyed by Texas, I was fuming -- even with a win over Iowa and a come-back in a close game with an indifferent Oklahoma squad; I had seen us lose games we shouldn't have. No question the coaching in those early contests cost us as much as execution. As a coach, you need to understand what your guys can do and put them in a position to be effective. Our special teams schemes were awful. However, throughout the season, I saw improvement in fundamentals, particularly in the offensive line. Two wins at the end of the season made me think we had a chance.

2008 should have started where 2007 left off. It didn't. Too many changes in the o-line (Brandon Johnson should have been up and ready as soon as Knapp got hurt), some young guys playing that shouldn't have (Carter Bykowski- not because he couldn't contribute, but because we were loaded at the TE spot already), a Kansas game that got away - not for lack of effort on anyone's part, a Baylor game with the worst defensive game plan I have ever seen in my 13 years as a Cyclone and absolutely zero meaningful adjustments, followed by a offensive nightmare against Nebraska, left me knowing we didn't have a whole different level of coaching, in fact changes were needed. Gene Chizik was taking steps to address the problems he saw, and then Auburn stepped in.

I have always had a tremendous passion for ISU football. I watched our kids play hard all season and was truly proud of their effort. However, I spent most of the season in a funk; I was becoming indifferent to the outcome. Did I actually want the school I love to lose because of what it did to my coach, I found myself asking – no, but the only way to take what I was seeing was to not care as much as I used to. I suppose that was healthy, maybe a part of growing up, but it felt like a betrayal.

Gene Chizik might have gotten it done at ISU. He might have brought in the best and the brightest – heck, Dyron Dye was on campus for a visit. He might have gone out and gotten the best coordinators in the market at the time. He might have proved he is a military man “CEO” coach he sells himself as, but I bet if you ask a couple of his former players, coaches and recruits, they’ll tell you he proved himself to be a mercenary. They’re the ones that got the shaft in this deal. The fact that Gene Chizik could only muster at most 3 minutes for his two years’ worth of connection with a team, not answering any questions, he might as well have walked in, peed on the floor and walked out. Why waste your time with people you obviously care so little about? To satisfy his own guilty conscience is my only speculation. Gene Chizik was never connected with Iowa State, and I guess that’s why I never connected with him. Hopefully for him, he connects with Auburn or he might find himself without so many contacts in his phone.

December 20th changed everything for me. I know Coach Rhoads. Paul Rhoads is everything Gene Chizik sold himself to be – a great recruiter, a great coach and leader. Coach Rhoads will reestablish relationships with the coaches across the state – not just the ones that have kids we want right now, but ones that may have great kids in the future. It won’t be just because of that future kid, though -- it will be because he actually cares about ISU’s reputation and he respects what those coaches do for young people every day.

I’ve got to force myself to remain steady and not expect too much too quickly in terms of wins and losses, but I know I’ve got something to be proud about again. And that makes being a Cyclone worth every step of the journey.

Thank you for checking this site out. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

23 comments:

Brian said...

Ben, I've been hungry as hell for an insider's word about what I should think (I'm easily led when by those in who I have high confidence) about Paul Rhoads. Your word is gold with me. Thanks for posting your thinking about the new football coaching regime.

Hey, I thought engineers are scribblers, not writers. A stereotype, or did your MIL tutor you but good in the ways of literate communication? (grin)

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marlin said...

Excellent work and much appreciated by the Clone faithful, Ben. I, for one, am with you 100% on this and now that Paul has landed what appears to be a very solid OC, has added some other guys who REALLY do want to be at ISU and will likely finish up with more solid staff additions, I believe the future of ISU FB is very bright, indeed!! The combination of Paul Rhoads, Tom Herman & the new DC recruiting and selling ISU along with the rest of this dedicated staff will make a huge difference in the level of players we see on the field at ISU---and, amongst the players and coaches in the State of Iowa. Nobody will doubt the sincerity of this group and I fully expect we will see great results in the near future. Quite frankly, I expect that we will see a positive impact yet this year even though they are a bit behind the 8 ball with one month left to recruit.

Keep up the great work, Ben. ISU fans and alums are proud of you and the work you do for ISU!!

JAC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
CYcoFan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JAC said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sultan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jaretac said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JTBenson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kathy said...

Ben,
My daughter-in-law found your blog and just sent it to me. You have stated everything that I have felt. I am glad to see I am not alone in my thinking.

On a side note, I was friends with your folks when they lived in Oskaloosa. In fact my son was born the day after you and your mom and I were in the hospital together! Small world.

Brunsie said...

Thanks to all who posted.

JAC, I understand your opinion, but don't insult Dan McCarney here. If you don't like my opinion, that's fine, don't waste your time reading it.

Ryan said...

Great job Ben--way to delete anything that was said that doesn't agree with you. That just screams of integrity and maturity. As long as what was said wasn't racist, dangerous, or an unwarranted personal attack....you shouldn't be deleting the comments. Otherwise your blog is a silly little "Dear Diary".....

Countdown to communist removal of this comment...in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1....

tom said...

Ben....
You echo my sentiments entirely. i don't remember a season when i grew more indifferent as the weeks drug on. The manner in which GC dealt with his players/coaches in his departure was and is unpardonable, not something a man of character would have done. Sad but a blessing for ISU.
chad

Alan said...

Great read Ben. Keep up the good work, and don't let the negative comments keep you from more pieces like this!

CyValley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brunsie said...

I'm sorry for removing the comments; I am obviously not familiar enough with blog etiquette to realize what is kosher with regard to comments. I would put them back, but at the moment I can't figure out how to do that. I do, however, have to say that I thought the comments from JAC were unwarranted attacks on someone who had little to do with the subject of the post and not something I felt particularly comfortable having posted on my site. All responses to JAC's comments were removed in what I felt was fairness to JAC, but realize now was unfair to each who posted: CYcoFan, Ryan, sultan, jaretac, JTBenson and JAC. My apologies.

I wrote this blog because some friends and a few other people asked me to. I didn't realize it would become so popular. It wasn't my intention to offend anyone, or even to throw anyone under the bus. I am not a journalist and never positioned my self as one. This blog is merely meant to express my personal feelings...nothing more.

I have no regrets as a player but have regretted more parts of my broadcasting career than any other part of my life. I have always tried to represent my feelings toward a school that has given me so many positive experiences in a positive way; on occasion, I've failed at that. I don't think expressing my feelings about the lack of passion I had at the end of last season and that passion's renewal is on the list of regrets yet, but removing your comments is.

Thanks, and I hope you give me another chance.

Ryan said...

I apologize Ben for my remarks...it takes a big man to make that last comment that you did. I respect that.

fatguyinlilcoat said...

Hey Ben,
We are very fortunate to have a man of your integrity as a representative for our great institution. I truly enjoy your insight in the post-game discussion in games and this blog will become a regular place for me to visit if we get more of the same.

As for deleting comments on a blog... I don't get how anybody could possibly blame you for removing comment from YOUR blog. I didn't read the comments and I don't care to read them. I guess some people think that adding their $.02 on a web-based media is part of their freedom of speech. I'm not sure, but since the internet is not government regulated and global, the Bill of Rights is not covered...

You've earned the right to do what you want on YOUR diary. :)

McNeal said...

This is a great b-day present (My birthday was Jan 4th) You said exactly what I have been thinking/feeling about ISU football since the end of the season. I'm 100% on board with Paul Rhoads.

GO CYCLONES

aubchili said...

From Auburn to the brokenhearted ISU community:

Let's make a deal-- you can have Chizik back. Trust me, you guys should be celebrating - not whining about it.

rsnesmith said...

We love Gene here at Auburn. He was our DC during our undefeated season in '04. He is a good moral man with lots of integrity and character. With that said, I understand Iowa State's hurt and anger at a head coach leaving after only 2 seasons. You do have a great man as HC in Paul Rhoades. I believe he will do good things while at ISU. Good luck to you folks in the future.

TigerBenz said...

Coach Chizik did a very good job as DC here in Auburn. It remains to be seen what he can accomplish as HC. I will support him until he gives me reason otherwise. We did have a Coach who quit midseason (Terry Bowden). I supported him right up until he left the day before the Louisana Tech game in 1998. Now, I sympathize with the UNA fans. Coach Rhoades has done a good job at Auburn and he is an Iowan. Maybe a mutually beneficial coincidence. I think so. Best of Luck to Coach Rhoades and the Cyclones. You have a tough league in which to compete, but Coach Rhoades is a fellow who is up to the challenge.

Post a Comment