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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Jack Trice and the Nazi Olympiad

Two names. One carved deep into the heart of Nazi Germany. One carved deep into the American Heartland …

The historical record is full of many connecting threads that help flesh out, somewhat tangentially, the forgotten life of Iowa State University icon Jack Trice. Small glimmers of his legacy are caught in the parallels of related stories such as the one that follows.

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The yellow lipstick of Jack Trice

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In 2014, we made the exciting discovery of an existing gold Iowa State University football jersey, worn by Jack Trice’s teammate Ira Young during the infamous 1923 season. Along with our previous story “The enigma of Jack Trice’s gold jersey,” these pieces of evidence laid out the compelling case for Jack’s iconic Iowa State jersey being gold during his only varsity season in Ames.

Case solved, right?

Not so fast. To my surprise, I’ve met some people who simply cannot believe that Jack Trice was wearing a gold jersey in the famous Iowa State pictures. The jersey was too dark and had too much contrast. Lending to the confusion, during the 2013 football season, Iowa State honored Jack by wearing throwback uniforms, but (curiously) they were a deep cardinal color.

To conclusively show Jack Trice was wearing gold, let’s go beyond typical newspaper articles and begin with a slight detour across the Atlantic Ocean nearly 200 years ago.

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Help defeat cancer while supporting USC

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Lori and I are proud to partner with Ryan Abraham, the longtime owner and publisher of USCFootball.com, to give Trojan football fans an opportunity to grab a limited edition USC x Pendleton Woolen Mills stadium blanket while supporting the fight against pediatric brain cancer. We set aside 110 blankets and will give our entire profit, $100 per blanket, to two separate foundations and hope to donate up to $11,000. This special promotion will run for just two weeks from Monday, December 7, to Monday, December 21 and this is our third custom blanket with Pendleton–both previous blankets sold out–so don’t wait to support this important cause!

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Robot Cy meets West Virginia

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(Story originally posted on SB Nation’s ISU site: Wide Right & Natty Lite.)

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WRNL is proud to present nine weekly articles from Kagavi leading up to the official release of The Adventures of Robot Cy, a fictional 8-bit video game trailer that never was.

In a faraway futuristic time, college football has been taken over by robot mascots. Join Robot Cy as he travels through many thrilling levels to find out who is behind this nefarious plot!

Every week during the conference season, Kagavi will preview the ISU football game using this project as inspiration by asking what power ups could Robot Cy gain by defeating the other Big 12 robot mascots?

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Just like that, the Cyclone squad will travel to Morgantown this weekend for the last clash of the 2015 football season. Last week, finally, FINALLY, the Kansas State Wildcats were headed for certain defeat before the necromancer Bill Snyder remembered his voodoo doll and pins. A brutal 90 seconds later, the curtain was unfortunately up on Paul Rhoads’ time at Iowa State. Robot Cy did manage to escape Manhattan with the Voodoo Skulls power up from Robot Willie, but that’s small consolation. Turning to the West Virginia Mountaineers, they beat ISU 37 – 24 last year in Ames–this sounds familiar–because ISU scored just 3 points after halftime. The year before was a thrilling 52 – 44 triple overtime victory, which saw ISU overcome the largest deficit in school history with 24 points in the fourth quarter.

But what if Robot Cy was facing off against Robot Mountaineer?

If Robot Mountaineer used the best parts of West Virginia football history to inspire a power up, what would it be? Let’s explore some West Virginia history.

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Robot Cy meets Kansas State

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(Story originally posted on SB Nation’s ISU site: Wide Right & Natty Lite.)

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WRNL is proud to present nine weekly articles from Kagavi leading up to the official release of The Adventures of Robot Cy, a fictional 8-bit video game trailer that never was.

In a faraway futuristic time, college football has been taken over by robot mascots. Join Robot Cy as he travels through many thrilling levels to find out who is behind this nefarious plot!

Every week during the conference season, Kagavi will preview the ISU football game using this project as inspiration by asking what power ups could Robot Cy gain by defeating the other Big 12 robot mascots?

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The question hung in the air all week leading up to the Oklahoma State game. Could there be a repeat of 2011? During the game, fans and players could feel the magic of the monumental upset lingering around the fringes, but the game ultimately slipped away at the very end. Robot Cy salvaged the evening by defeating Robot Pistol Pete and securing the Silver Star power up, which will be useful in the future (perhaps as soon as this basketball season against the Jayhawks). These final two games against Kansas State and West Virginia will probably determine the future of the ISU coaching staff. Last year’s game in Ames ended in a 32 – 28 KSU comeback after ISU failed to get a crucial first down, just one measly yard, to preserve the victory. The last road game in Manhattan was an anomaly as Collin Klein led KSU to a 41 – 7 thumping, but every other game in the Paul Rhoads era has been relatively close, yet with the same outcome. Both teams have struggled this season and last I checked, KSU was playing a dance team member at QB.

But what if Robot Cy was facing off against Robot Willie Wildcat?

If Robot Willie Wildcat used the best parts of Kansas State football history to inspire a power up, what would it be? Let’s explore some Kansas State history.

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Robot Cy meets Oklahoma State

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(Story originally posted on SB Nation’s ISU site: Wide Right & Natty Lite.)

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WRNL is proud to present nine weekly articles from Kagavi leading up to the official release of The Adventures of Robot Cy, a fictional 8-bit video game trailer that never was.

In a faraway futuristic time, college football has been taken over by robot mascots. Join Robot Cy as he travels through many thrilling levels to find out who is behind this nefarious plot!

Every week during the conference season, Kagavi will preview the ISU football game using this project as inspiration by asking what power ups could Robot Cy gain by defeating the other Big 12 robot mascots?

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As expected, Iowa State quickly took the lead against Oklahoma in the highly anticipated game last week at Norman. The rest is a blur. Robot Cy also nabbed the coveted Double Trouble power up from Robot Boomer Sooner while they were Boomering their Sooner. Thankfully after facing TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma in close succession, the schedule finally eases off with undefeated Oklahoma State coming to Ames with a sterling 9 – 0 record and shiny # 5 ranking. We all know about 2011 and in 2013, they extracted revenge on ISU with a 58 – 27 win. Last year, the OSU win resulted in ISU AD Jamie Pollard sharing some, uhh, strong opinions in the post game press conference.

But what if Robot Cy was facing off against Robot Pistol Pete?

If Robot Pistol Pete used the best parts of OSU football history to inspire a power up, what would it be? Let’s explore some OSU history.

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