CYCLONE SOUP: CY JAM 2

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

The Iowa State basketball season officially starts this Friday with preseason All-American Monte Morris and a bevy of talented seniors looking to make some noise in the Big 12.  A couple of years ago, I created a Cyclone version of NBA JAM, imaginatively called CY JAM, and it was a smash hit, selling thousands of fake copies. Fans were able to play as some of Iowa State’s most iconic players of the past century and fan favorites from recent teams, plus the Spirited! duo of Cy and Clone.

Now for the anticipated sequel.

CY JAM 2 adds even more Iowa State legends, plus a bunch of secret players accessible only by password. NBA JAM had music legends, politicians, football players, and more, so CY JAM 2 dug into Cyclone history to find some of the most skilled players with special powers and a will to win. Let’s look at the sixteen players of CY JAM 2.

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CYCLONE SOUP: Big 12 meets Public Enemy

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

Last month, the Big 12 announced there would be no expansion and the issue was tabled until schools could find a tranquilizer gun large enough to take down David Boren. Despite actual results with teams and revenue, the Big 12 has struggled to reverse public perception of continually wobbling on the verge. With their immediate future established, the next big movement will likely be in the mid-2020s when the next set of media contracts expire.

In the meantime, the Big 12 should strongly consider veering off in a risky direction and establishing a contrarian brand as the future of college football. The anthem for this change should be Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” which was first released in conjunction with Spike Lee’s 1989 film Do the Right Thing. Chuck D and Flavor Flav’s lyrics spoke of the inherent adversity faced by the black community.

As a marshmallow fluff who grew up on the mean streets of Ames, I can identify with the struggles espoused by the song and want to make a difference. Thus, I am appointing myself the new Big 12 commissioner and immediately issuing three proclamations to push back against the corrupt, hypocritical aspects of college football.

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CYCLONE SOUP: Farmageddon needs a trophy

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

Conference realignment has ripped apart nearly all of Iowa State’s historical football rivalries. One of the few surviving schools is Kansas State, which Iowa State started playing in 1916, and this fall will mark the 100th consecutive edition of the game. Both schools are some of the very earliest agricultural institutions in the entire nation, established by the Morrill Act in 1862. They are also the sole remaining conference rival that was an opponent during Jack Trice’s two years in Ames.

There still isn’t a trophy marking the game that many have dubbed Farmageddon in recent years. Part of that probably has to do with the long and distinguished history of losing by both teams. With the Big 12 eroding by the minute, the schools should take some steps to solidify this rivalry and start playing for a Farmageddon trophy.

College football is best when upholding fun, goofy traditions and the best trophies follow some simple rules.

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CYCLONE SOUP: Time to fix the Cy logo

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

Change is difficult. It can take years for new logos to gain acceptance, to worm their way into the warm memories of yore. The I-STATE logo, which never met a bevel it didn’t love, took some time to become established as the primary athletic mark, but is now widely accepted by Iowa State fans. The current walking Cy logo that was released after the I-STATE logo has struggled to reach the same level of acceptance.

It probably has something to do with how irritated Cy looks, like he’s walking out of Jack Trice Stadium after watching Iowa clobber Iowa State, only to find a parking ticket on his windshield.

Years after this modern iteration of Cy was released, most fans still refuse to embrace the design. On Twitter last week, I asked Iowa State fans whether they preferred the new version of Cy or the old versions of Cy. Hundreds of votes later, 80% voted in favor of the old versions. I’m no statistician, but that can’t be a good sign for the current logo.

It wasn’t always this bad.

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CYCLONE SOUP: 2016, an Orwellian parody

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

The story began with the great football purges early this millennia. Traditions were destroyed and unlikely alliances formed. Members were absorbed into larger groups and became more powerful. Others teetered. A constant state of war existed, year after year, never resolving. A smaller collection of members known as The Conference saw Big Bob arrive to take control. He was their savior.

Stuck between two great powers, the members of The Conference were told Big Bob was a welcome contrast to previous leadership that had allowed discord to fester. He informed them it had always been BIG undermining and constantly attacking, never anyone else. The SEC was a friend. Big Bob and the Striped Police protected the conference members from the enemy, BIG.

Big Bob was always watching the members, because he loved them. He was troubled still, for the real struggle laid within The Conference.

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CYCLONE SOUP: Greatest players who never were

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

In the current era, Iowa State usually cannot compete with top schools for elite football recruits, probably because those schools have a bankroll that would make Pablo Escobar’s accountant blush. Despite this handicap, Iowa State has turned out talented players and there have been a few times that the nation’s best picked Iowa State over traditional powers. While every fan can name the stars, some of those players failed to reach their potential and have faded from memory.

Let’s look at three of them and consider what might have been.

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CYCLONE SOUP: Did Iowa State almost join the Big Ten?

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(Originally published at SB Nation’s Wide Right Natty Lite.)

Conference expansion has been a thing from the earliest days of football and after World War II, the Big Ten dangled a vacant spot to schools throughout the Midwest. One of the names most popularly mentioned was Iowa State. To see how close they really came, let’s skip back another half-century.

During the heady days of Iowa State football, back when men were real men with wooly mustaches and spittoons, back when long fluffy hair was considered suitable head protection, back when successful games ended with just a touch of gangrene and crunchy ribs healed by whiskey and cocaine, the football team was good, actually really good.

Counting up all of the totally legitimate and not at all questionable games against teams such as Des Moines Y, Fort Dodge, Rush Medical, and Omaha Light Guards, the first sixteen years of independence through the 1907 season yielded a cumulative record of 75-38-6.

By comparison, those slackers in South Bend only won 79 in the same time period.

The Cyclones were a strong bunch of independents who didn’t need no man or conference, but expansion came dit-dah-ditting over the telegraph wire anyway.

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Choosing Jack Trice yellow or classic gold

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In April, we asked Iowa State University to honor Jack Trice by retiring his number or jersey and presented five planks for adding his legacy to the Iowa State brand. These stories pulled from centuries of influences and suggested simple steps that could provide a guiding touch for the century to come and beyond. One of the proposed additions was a chevron design inspired by Jack Trice’s uniform, as well as timeless symbols and petroglyphs from many millennia ago. Another proposal was the return of the missing Cyclone logo.

Along with these additions, Iowa State needs to finally decide between yellow or classic gold as the true representation of their school colors and the tale begins with Jack Trice.

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Adding Jack Trice to the Iowa State brand

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When Iowa State University hired a young Ohio native as its new football coach, the difference was immediate. His champion pedigree, innovative ideas, and close knit coaching staff convinced multiple Ohio prep players to spurn other schools for Ames. The new facilities on campus revealed a path for Iowa State to become a national power. Plans were made for new uniforms and events to spread the Cyclones brand–a critical step, since nearby Iowa had just finished an undefeated regular season, soaking up most of the press.

The year was 1922 and the new coach was Sam Willaman, the man who brought Jack Trice to Ames. Willaman knew a small agricultural college in the middle of a remote farming state with minimal football success had to do things differently to stand out.

History stands on the cusp of being repeated.

The time is right for Coach Matt Campbell to restore Iowa State tradition with a unique, distinctive message that overcomes Iowa State’s historical disadvantages using an innovative approach. Here are five different areas that the legacy of Jack Trice can influence this new direction.

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Should Jack Trice’s number be retired?

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Over the past few years, through hundreds of thousands of pages of microfilm, newspapers, letters, and journals, the sad, intensely inspiring story of John G. “Jack” Trice has unspooled before my eyes. Our travels from coast to coast have yielded many artifacts: the bloodied gold jersey worn by Ira Young when he carried Jack off the field, original game photos, written lamentations of teammates and coaches. More we have yet to share. During many long hours in libraries, surrounded by books and my own thoughts, I’ve often pondered how Iowa State should continue to honor Jack’s message and it starts with a simple question.

Should Iowa State University retire Jack Trice’s number 37?

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