Cyclone's Scuttlebutt recap from Sept. 11. Des Moines Register
AMES, Ia. -- At the football beginning of the season, Desmond Howard made a big, bold pick on ESPN's "College GameDay." Howard, a Heisman Trophy winner and current college football analyst, went against his colleagues on the show and predicted a surprise school to win the Big 12 Conference in 2019.
"I thought that Iowa State has the potential to surprise some teams and to kind of be under the radar and pick some teams off," Howard said in a telephone interview with the Register. "They seem like the type of program that would embrace that role -- not getting all the attention that a Texas receives or not getting all the attention that an Oklahoma receives but sitting down there in Ames quietly, getting their game plans ready -- plotting the next victim."
Howard and his crew will get an up-close look at the Iowa State football program while they're in town this week for the show's visit to Ames. The show will air Saturday but Howard and the rest of the "College GameDay" crew will be getting to town ahead of time to learn more about the Cyclones.
Howard already has a good idea of what he's getting into.
The former college football star and NFL veteran has spent years calling Mid-American Conference games. Iowa State coach Matt Campbell coached in the MAC for Toledo before coming to Ames. So, long before Campbell came to Iowa State and started turning the program around, Howard knew what kind of a coach he was. Howard said he was not surprised to see a Power 5 school snatch up Campbell. And he's certainly not surprised that Campbell is having success.
"I think Matt is a really solid head coach," Howard said. "I think he's a guy that kind of says what he means and knows how to say it and has depth to it and has substance to the things that he says. I think it's well thought out responses in his statements and comments. He's a guy that I don't think there's a lot of fluff about him at all. I think it's much more substance than fluff and when you're around him and you see 'Hi' and you observe him, you kind of see the trajectory that he's on."
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Campbell is in his fourth season with Iowa State. He's not only guided Iowa State to back-to-back eight-win seasons but a win in the Liberty Bowl and last season a trip to the Alamo Bowl. Howard said it has been impressive to see what Campbell has done in the short time he's been at Iowa State, a program that had been struggling before he arrived.
"It's really good to see someone get that recognition that they deserve and knowing that it was earned," Howard said. "That's how I feel about it. ... He's a guy from my experience who really isn't about that. He's about getting his team ready and getting them prepared to win games and probably more so giving them the credit than taking it himself."
Iowa State began the season with a triple overtime win over Northern Iowa. The Cyclones then had a bye week before the Iowa game. So, was the close call enough to scare Howard off from picking Iowa State to win the Big 12?
"Obviously the first game doesn't make you say, 'Oh yea, this is definitely going to be a team that wins their conference,'" Howard said. "So, lets get that out of the way. But, there's more football to be played. So, hopefully they come out Saturday and play an inspired contest against the Iowa Hawkeyes -- an in-state rival -- and start to maybe sway some people to give them a different opinion than what we all saw the last time they took the field."
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