WILLIAMS: 14 thoughts on Iowa State & Big 12 football from media day

ARLINGTON — I have really missed this. 

I love reporting and commentating on the Cyclones for you all. 

It really has been about a year and a half since things have seemed this normal in the college football pool that I have treaded water in daily for almost 20 years. It’s kind of funny too, considering the current landscape (NIL, Covid, transfer portal, etc.) of the sport is anything but normal. 

Regardless, the 2021 college football season is a month and a half away and I decided to go all-out for you all today with a ridiculously long, and hopefully insightful, column on all things Cyclones and the Big 12. 

Expect a lot more coverage in the coming days. 

Here we go … 

1 – There seems to be a healthy dose of skepticism from the national and regional media regarding Brock Purdy. 

If you are going strictly by the numbers, I somewhat understand this. According to efficiency numbers, Purdy has regressed in each of his three years at Iowa State. He is the best quarterback in the history of the program. Nobody can doubt that. But Brock was pretty dinged up as a sophomore and last year he didn’t take care of the football the way his head coach would have liked. 

“I think what I love about Brock more than anything is he’s never satisfied, and he’s an elite competitor,” Matt Campbell said about his senior quarterback. “What I loved about his growth a year ago, I think anytime that you care so much, and I think myself, our coaches, the players that have invested greatly, sometimes you care so much, that sometimes you’re almost paralyzed because you don’t want to screw it up, you don’t want to make a mistake.”

“What I saw last year is as we got to November, December and finishing the season, I saw Brock Purdy as a freshman that played with so much confidence and so much carefree mentality that it was such a joy for me as a coach to see that come back and him enjoy playing quarterback at Iowa State again. I’m just to proud of who he is and what he’s become, and I really think he’s got a chance to really put a great finishing touch on what’s been an incredible job journey for him as we get into this season.”

2 – Speaking of Purdy, he wasn’t in Dallas because of his attendance at the Manning Passing Academy, which begins on Thursday. 

That’s a nice honor and is way more valuable than mucking it up with a bunch of hacks like me. 

3 – Quote of the Day award goes to Breece Hall. 

“Every Saturday I know I am the best player on the field. That is my mentality.”

4 – Hall and Greg Eisworth both told me they have put on 10 pounds in the offseason. 

Breece also told me that his 40 time has improved. He is now stronger and faster than last season. That’s pretty exciting considering the man averaged 5.6 yards per carry with 21 touchdowns a season ago. 

5 – A question I have been pondering: Should freshmen be able to talk to the media now?

I would argue that due to the new name, image and likeness rules, freshmen have the right to get in front of the cameras to “grow their brands.” I cannot imagine Matt Campbell will agree with me (it isn’t his job to make these guys endorsement money), but it is something to think about. I predict that at some point in time, this will become “a thing,” not necessarily in Ames but nationally. 

6 – Speaking of name, image and likeness, it was not that big of a deal on Wednesday. 

I figured it would be a larger topic throughout the day. 

Here is what Campbell said when initially asked about it in our to-the-side local media scrum. 

“No change, I mean, I think it’s minimal at best, so I really I think it’s too early to tell and I think it’s one of those things that I think probably a lot of hype around it. But I think the reality is very minimal. But time will continue to tell. I think, you know, for us as coaches, it’s another opportunity to teach and guide. You know, I think it certainly puts a lot on the plate of 18 to 22 year old in terms of understanding taxes and all the stuff that come with real life decisions. And so is that right, to give 18 to 22 year olds? And I don’t know. But they did. It is. And so you just educate and teach. But you know, I think for us culturally and program wise, it’s zero bearing on us.”

7 – TCU head coach Gary Patterson is always one of the most entertaining coaches to hang around at these things. 

I found what he had to say about NIL to be quite refreshing. 

“To be honest with you, I’m a little bit different on the NIL. I think it evened the playing field. I think it gave every kid an opportunity to — again, our job is going to be as coaches, even though universities stay out of it. The really good players are going to have to have their own deals. People are going to find them.”

More from Patterson on the matter …

“And I’ll give you a great example how it might have helped TCU last year: Ar’Darius Washington. He went early in the draft as a safety. He didn’t have all the measurables. Probably if he could have some endorsement deals where he could have made some money that he could have given to his family, he might have stayed another year and then played at TCU right now.”

8 – Patterson also brought up the elephant in the room when it comes to all of this: player representation. 

“You need to understand right now we’re in a situation where we have the NIL and transfer but the NFL, they have a players union. Right now, we don’t have a players union. There are no rules right now besides the state laws.”

AKA … Wild, Wild West. 

9 – Rightfully so, Lincoln Riley is a confident man these days. Check out how Oklahoma’s head coach led off his press conference …

“Certainly good to see everybody back here in Arlington. Good to be back in our second home here.”

It is hard to blame the 37-year old Sooner head coach for feeling this way. 

Oklahoma has won six Big 12 championships in a row. 

10 – Lincoln Riley these days … 

11 – Back to Iowa State with a few scorching hot takes about individual awards …

Of course, the team winning is most important. But realize heading into the season, Iowa State has two legitimate Heisman Trophy contenders. 

Breece Hall called the Heisman a “mostly quarterback award” these days, and he is right. Dating back to the year 2000, 17 Heisman trophies have been handed out to quarterbacks. 

“It’s an uphill battle,” Hall said. 

But even so, do you guys realize how rare it is to have two guys who are legitimately in the hunt?

How amazing would it be to bring a Heisman to Ames?

And spare me the “worry about one week at a time” crap. If Iowa State has a player win the Heisman, wins will be there. 

12 – Another individual accolade I am very interested in is breaking the first round draft pick streak. 

I believe that defensive end Will McDonald has the best chance to do this for Iowa State. 

I’d handicap Hall second with Purdy at third. 

I am sick to death of this being a topic of conversation every April. 

13 – Speaking of Breece … 

Did you know: Today was only the second time that Breece Hall has ever spoken to the media (in person) in his career. Crazy, huh?

Think about it though … Breece couldn’t speak to the media as a freshman. Covid hit and everything last year was on Zoom. 

14 – Lastly, call me naive but I was surprised as to how much Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby talked about Covid-19, vaccinations and protocols heading into the 2021 season. 

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