The Iowa State Cyclones had a turnaround season in 2018, taking a 1-3 start and finishing the year with a bowl game and a top-25 ranking.
Last year was a microcosm of sorts for the Cyclones during Coach Matt Campbell. Going into his fourth season at the program’s helm, Campbell took what was a 3-9 team in his debut season and followed it up with back-to-back winning seasons in 2017 and 2018, and he hopes to keep that rolling into this year.
“I don’t mean this to be negative in any stretch of the imagination,” Campbell said, “but if we worried what the expectations of our football program were outside of our walls the first three years, I think we would have crumbled very fast.”
This has led Campbell and his program to set their own expectations, which he says are “way loftier” than those set by people outside of Ames, Iowa.
Off the field, Campbell emphasizes his team’s “culture,” which he says is becoming more and more football-oriented. Fans and pundits are now paying less attention to some things that he calls “less important” — such as uniform colors and stadium music — and are now paying attention to what is actually happening on the field.
“When I first showed up…people cared about stuff that really doesn’t matter, and now we’re talking about a football team,” Campbell explained. “We’re asking football questions, and we’re concerned about what’s really important in terms of building a football culture and a football program the right way.”