With much talk about whether Iowa football should keep the Cyclones on their schedule, if Matt Campbell leaves Iowa State, does the narrative change?
There are a lot of mixed feelings about the Cy-Hawk Trophy game. Many Iowa football fans see this game as a double bind situation.
I’ve written before about how this year’s game was not a lose-lose situation.
While I still believe this to be true, a lot of it is based on the program that Matt Campbell has built in Ames. He has brought Iowa State to a level of success not seen since the 1970s.
The possibility of Matt Campbell leaving for greener pastures isn’t much of a stretch. He has been named as a possible successor for higher-profile positions and Campbell is nearing his ceiling in Ames.
I want to make it perfectly clear that the reason that I’m in favor of keeping this series is that, right now, Iowa State adds a quality opponent to Iowa football’s schedule from a Power 5 conference.
If Campbell does in fact leave, Iowa State, more than likely, goes from being an 8-win team each year back to a 3-win team. Playing a 3-win team each year, whether it is a Power 5 or a Group of 5 team, does nothing for Iowa football.
I am not a native Iowan, so the Cy-Hawk series might not mean as much to me as it does some Iowa football fans, but I was excited about this year’s iteration because both teams are decent.
The excitement for this game dissipates when Iowa State is at Paul Rhodes’ level of mediocrity. Until the Cyclones proved that they could consistently beat elite teams, this game actually was a lose-lose situation for Iowa football.
This happened about 20 years into Kirk Ferentz’s tenure at Iowa. Supporters of the series cannot get mad at the detractors. Prior to the last two or three years, they were right.
Maybe, more importantly, they will be right again if Campbell bolts for a better opportunity. The Cy-Hawk football series only has value to Iowa football when the Cyclones are a top 3 team in the Big 12.
If and when Campbell leaves, they probably will regress back to being the team that older Hawkeye fans remember. That is to say, a team that plays like an actual team against the Hawkeyes, but forgets how to play against their other 11 opponents.
At that point, it is time to truly reconsider the value of this series for Iowa football.