I noticed with obvious interest that Iowa State will play Tulsa in the Liberty Bowl, a rematch of a game at which my nephew, as the starting quarterback, helped led the team to a decisive victory in the very first game of the season.
It’s “back to the future” after a tumultuous season where we went to several games. And not very exciting, either — though Memphis is a heck of a town for any student-athlete to visit.
Besides being a leader in the Tulsa victory, my nephew also helped lead the team to victory against Baylor, which will play in the Holiday Bowl against UCLA — a better bowl game.
He was QB when Iowa State beat Iowa back-to-back for the first time in a decade, and — at the end of the day — he was at the helm for four of the six wins this season as starting QB.
I couldn’t help but think that Iowa State would have received a better bowl game if it hadn’t played “musical quarterback” during the season, creating confusion about its direction from one week to the next, including a self-inflicted “QB competition” for the starting role two years running.
Besides striving to become “bowl eligible,” you have to think about your strategy for getting there. What kind of impression are you presenting to the bowl representatives? Are you in control or not?
It was a mistake for the coach to pull my nephew after a mediocre performance in the Texas Tech game in September, after he went 3-0, when he was sick with laryngitis.
You’d don’t read about this in the newspapers, but the players could not even hear the play calls. I was surprised the local media did not notice the unorthodox lineups.
The local media pressure was intense, however, focusing on the quarterback, not the whole team. It’s a coach’s job to help manage that, though.
Later my nephew received a concussion in the Kansas game, but that also was downplayed in the media. Instead, his performance was called into question — after being hit in the head. I think the coaches could have done a better job of clearing that up publicly.
All told, this indecisiveness among the coaches led to a “QB controversy” at Iowa State all season long, distracting the team and playing right into the media’s hands (which likes controversy). (Being in the media for my whole life, I know how it works).
Though unfortunate, this is hardly uncommon in the world of football. The San Francisco 49ers coach made the same mistake this weekend, replacing a veteran with a more inexperienced quarterback.
And his inexperience helped cost the 49ers the game against the rival St. Louis Rams. The 49ers coach is sticking to his guns as the media turns up the heat, but he made a bad call. It happens to all of us, but you should own it.
To be sure, both coaches — though relatively inexperienced as head coaches in college and the pros, respectively, from their previous jobs — have done wonders for their teams in a short time. I applaud that.
But coaches increasingly focus on the short term, influenced by the media, rather than planning for the long haul. They need to act more independently, just like a good corporate CEO who coaches past the quarter-to-quarter earnings.
I just hope that Iowa State can beat Tulsa again in their rematch, whomever plays quarterback. We still fly the Iowa State flag proudly at our Northern California home.
And I hope the 49ers can get back on track, too.
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