MONDAY MUSINGS: Realistic optimism

Nov 14, 2015; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Joel Lanning (7) celebrates after scoring on the first drive against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

My little girl has made a profound impact on my life in so many ways. Most importantly, across the board, her existence has chilled me out.

In college, my wife (girlfriend at the time) described me as having two separate personalities: “My Chris,” she’d say and “Game Day Chris.”

Game Day Chris was not allowed anywhere near her family. 

Had Iowa State started 0-3 five years ago, I would currently be an intoxicated twenty-something running around the streets of Bondurant like his hair is on fire.

That was Game Day Chris.

He doesn’t exist anymore.

Heading into Saturday’s 11 a.m. kick (FSN) with San Jose State (1-2), the Cyclones are 0-3 – an ugly 0-3 at that. However it was after a 42-3 loss to Iowa when I told myself to calm down, take the new era in stride and look hard for some positives going forward.

Heading into Saturday’s 41-20 loss to TCU, my expectations could not have been lower and because of that, I saw a handful of things to be excited about. (You can read about them here.)

If you think I’m simply attempting to sugarcoat an awful start to the season, think again. I look at it as being realistically optimistic about the current situation.

Realistic: This isn’t a very good football team.

Optimistic: New coach, new system, great recruiting and real hope for the future.

I love college football and I love Iowa State. So I’m not just going to cash out on the season in the middle of September. This is why I am approaching this Saturday as the start to a new season – if you’re into that sort of thing.

Think about it this way: The first two games were “burn the tape” type of games – just awful in every way. There really wasn’t anything positive to take from either.

Saturday got better though. There’s to build on off of that.

This week is the non-conference finale against an opponent that Iowa State should beat (the Cyclones opened as six-point favorites).

For the sake of fan morale, Iowa State desperately needs this one.

For the players, an important boost to confidence is on the line.

If all goes well, the Big 12 is historically down this season (more on that later). Some possible wins are on the schedule.

A bowl game is out of the equation (not mathematically but realistically), but there is still plenty to play for. I’ll sure as heck be at JTS on Saturday at 11 a.m. to see more improvement, and hopefully a win.


*** Schedule upgrade: Iowa State is swapping last year’s road trip to Toledo for a home date with San Jose State. At one point, Iowa State was scheduled to return the favor to San Jose State, however a buyout has occurred there and the Spartans are no longer on the future schedule.

Thinking about next year already? The non-con includes home games with UNI and Iowa, as well as a road trip to Akron.

Yes, Iowa State has a road game schedule vs. a team whose mascot is “the Zips.”

The Big 12 makes plenty of money. Director Pollard … Can you please buy ISU out of that one too?

I am not above Iowa State purchasing victories. In fact, I’ll advocate for it.

*** Call me crazy, but I have already watched San Jose State’s 34-17 loss to Utah twice. One matchup I love for the Cyclones is an improving defensive line vs. a San Jose State offensive line that gave up 10 Utah sacks on Saturday night.

I thought that Jhaustin Thomas and J.D. Waggoner each might have played their best games every in an Iowa State uniform vs. TCU. Big Demond Tucker is always a force.

Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has proven that he isn’t afraid to be aggressive with blitzes. It could be a fun day to watch the Cyclone D.

*** Continuing along: The main reason you shouldn’t just give up on the season is because the Big 12 is so darn weak. I have covered the league for 12 years and this is easily the worst shape I have seen it in.

Check out this stat.

On paper, Iowa State is still the ninth best team in a watered-down version of the league but with some improvement here or there, an upset or two isn’t out of the question.

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