World News – AU – No More Mockery: How Matt Campbell Turned The State Of Iowa


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Desmond Howard believes Brock Purdy and Iowa State will try to avenge their loss in the Big 12 championship at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. Oregon. (0:56)

IF MATT CAMPBELL was introduced as the Iowa State Football Coach in November. 30, 2015, he told Toledo about a road trip to Ames last year.

The team bus arrived early at Jack Trice Stadium, so Campbell, then Toledo’s coach, walked across the grounds. He overlooked the state of Iowa facilities, was soaked from the tailgate of the parking lot, and admired the passionate support from fans for the then 1-4 team. After the game, he called his wife Erica to share his impression.

Given the history of the Cyclones up to this point – only 11 bowl games in 12 decades, no conference championships since 1912 – few would consider the school a destination. But Campbell saw potential. When the job opened a year later, he liked the idea of ​​bringing the Cyclones from « The Mockery of College Football, » as he often put it, to a place of national relevance.

« There were a lot of hard roads and a lot of hard waters that we had to start over, clean up, and straighten out, » said Campbell. « The reality is that this has never happened consistently here. « 

In just five years Campbell has turned his vision into reality – consistently. On Saturday, No.. 10 Iowa State meets No.. 25 Oregon in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (4 p. . m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App), the first New Year’s Six Bowl game appearance in school history.

This season has been filled with similar premieres. The cyclones (8-3) reached No.. 6 at one point in the College Football Playoff Ranking, the highest they have had on any national ranking since their program began in the 1890s. They finished in the top 12 of the regular season for the first time and their eight conference victories are an all-time high. A win in the Fiesta Bowl would be her ninth win of the season, a school record that had only been set twice before: 1906 and 2000.

« When I played there, it seemed so far-fetched and unreal to think of going to the Fiesta Bowl, » said former Iowa State recipient Allen Lazard, now with the Green Bay Packers. « All credit goes to Coach Campbell and his staff for what they have done up there. « 

His predecessor, Paul Rhoads, took Iowa State to three bowls in its first three years, and its teams developed a reputation for playing hard and occasionally raising eyebrows that were no bigger than the No. 1 then’s 2011 surprise. 2 Oklahoma State derailing the Cowboys’ BCS title hopes.

But Iowa State have gone 8:28 for Rhoads for the last three seasons, and Sporting Director Jamie Pollard made a change. He guessed Campbell, then 36 years old and fresh from a 35-15 stint in Toledo.

The young coach was a soccer player. His father, Rick, was a longtime high school soccer coach in Ohio.

« Being in the locker room, being around someone with influence who influences and empowers young people’s lives, and watching it happen as a young child has influenced me profoundly, » Campbell said.

Campbell’s own high school coach Keith Wakefield was another strong influence, along with Larry Kehres, a coach who won 11 national titles at Mount Union and played for Campbell in the Division III school. Wakefield, said Campbell, « taught us not only the game of football, but the game of life as well. « At Mount Union, Kehres’ program was about relationships, trust and culture. « 

« If I hadn’t had that experience at this point in my life, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become a football coach, » said Campbell.

On his Big 12 foray, translating Campbell’s success with Toledo at the Mid-American Conference was a huge challenge. In its first year, the team went 3-9. But Campbell’s expectations remained non-negotiable.

« When Coach Campbell and his staff walked in, they immediately changed the culture from day one, » Lazard said. « They required new standards, new expectations, and kept us at a far higher level of accountability than many of us – especially me – usually don’t. « 

Campbell emphasized details. punctuality. technology. « Winning on the edge, » as he calls it. Since the Cyclones weren’t studded with five-star recruits, they had to spend time perfecting the little things to stand a chance.

« We do not accept delays in this program, » said Charlie Kolar. « In this program you are punctual or do not practice that day, no matter who it is.

« That bleeds out for practice, goes the right way, blocks the right gap, and makes the right device. « 

It can get frustrating at times, Kolar said, but one thing that seems meaningless during a camp training session is the difference between a seven point win and a seven point loss. « 

« We had to learn to believe in the first year, » said Campbell. « In the second year we had to learn how to win. « 

CAMPBELL’S BLUEPRINT SOON got a boost from within. The winter after Campbell’s first season in Iowa State, in which David Montgomery ran back, established a Friday night routine.

Instead of going out and enjoying college life, Montgomery – now a turn back for the Chicago Bears – started watching movies and training late at night in the team facility. Soon the Bailey twins – the defensive end JaQuan Bailey and the defensive tackle Joshua Bailey – joined in. After a few weeks, a small handful of players had grown to a few dozen.

Overtime and focusing on the details have paid off. In 2017, the Cyclones went 8-5, lost 18 games against Oklahoma, and ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll. Place and won the Liberty Bowl. Campbell and the Cyclones caused a stir, particularly with their win over the Sooners, who went to the College Football Playoffs later that season.

« Winning a game like that against Oklahoma has shown us and our kids that there is one thing to be done to be successful, » Campbell said ahead of the 2018 season.

This breakthrough was just the beginning. For the past four seasons, the Cyclones went between 31 and 19, making the current senior class – recruited from Campbell’s 3-9 debut season – the most successful in Iowa state history. These teams have won eight games three times and seven the other season. This is the fourth consecutive bowl game, an achievement unprecedented in program history.

Campbell brought over a dozen Toledo employees to Iowa State, and many remain on the Cyclones staff, including both offensive coordinator Tom Manning and defensive coordinator Jon Heacock.

And he found reliability in quarterback in three year old starter Brock Purdy. Since joining the roster on his first career start in 2018 with a win over a sixth-placed team from West Virginia, the junior has had a steady hand in a position that had significant sales prior to arrival.

Purdy is 22-11 as a starter, 19-7 against Big 12 teams and 12-1 at home. The all-Big 12 first-team quarterback was the first Cyclone to receive the award since John Quinn in 1981. In the 33 games he’s started, Iowa State averaged 432 offensive yards and 32 points.

« We grew as a program as Brock grew, » said Campbell. « I feel like we’ve learned a lot of lessons and we’ve had a lot of growth. We all really enjoyed doing this together. « . « 

Campbell has also built a strong running game around Purdy. In the quarterback’s freshman campaign, he had Montgomery, the Big 12’s second-best rusher in 2018, and he had Breece Hall for the past two seasons. After a solid rookie campaign in 2019, Hall was named a Heisman Trophy candidate for dark horses that season and is runner-up nationwide at Rushing Yards (1. 436) and rushing touchdowns (19). .

Program stability is complemented by the flexibility that Campbell and his staff have shown. In the middle of the 2018 season, Heacock shifted the defensive philosophy from a four-man front to three downliners in order to better accommodate the defensive roster talent. During this off-season, Campbell made changes to the strength and conditioning team and even adjusted details like how meetings were structured.

Heacock’s defense has been a strength throughout the Iowa state. The Cyclones have been in the top three of the Big 12 in goal defense for the past four years, dropping an average of less than 23 points per game over that period.

The staff were also open to feedback from players as the program evolved, which increased the buy-in from the roster.

« A lot was just a willingness to really listen and understand the contributions of the players, » said safety Greg Eisworth. « Our coaching staff . . . has had a lot of success and has been for a long time, so it can be difficult to change philosophy or understand what players are saying.

« But to have the humility to just have these conversations, coach to player or player to coach, we can all be on the same page and move in the same direction . . . I think that helped us a lot. « 

Even if the Cyclones win more and squad talent improves, Campbell is hammering his message home.

« Yes, we may have gotten older and our talent has developed, » said Campbell, « but I think in order to become the best version of ourselves, the best team we can become, the difference is in the details. The difference is in our ability to do the little things. « 

HOW FAR IOWA State Football can go remains to be seen, but the trendline looks promising.

Campbell, whose name is speculatively thrown around when large coaching jobs are opened, appears pleased. After last season, he signed a contract extension through 2025, and during the final coaching carousel nothing meant the intention to take a step.

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented by AT&T
Hard Rock Stadium (Miami Gardens, Florida) Jan. . 11: 8 p. m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN app

College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Rose Bowl game
AT&T Stadium (Arlington, Texas)
Alabama 31, Notre Dame 14

College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Allstate Sugar Bowl
Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)
Ohio State 49, Clemson 28

Pollard acknowledged the likely interest during a recent interview on SiriusXM Big 12 Today – « I’m not naive enough to believe he’ll never leave the state of Iowa, » he said – but he’s confident the two of them trust have built and the quality of their relationship.

Campbell, who was enjoying the challenge of building when he arrived in the state of Iowa, did it.

The level of performance is unparalleled for the program. At one point this season, the Cyclones were just outside the playoffs. They were on the verge of a direct conference championship that they had not won in 108 years.

After beating Texas in November, Campbell was asked if he could imagine that success. Regarding his freshman year in the state of Iowa, Campbell said he hadn’t set any goals beyond: « Can’t we be the mockery of college football? »

Iowa State Cyclones Soccer, Big 12 Conference Soccer, American Football

World News – AU – No More Mocking: How Matt Campbell Turned Iowa State On


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