Matt Campbell’s decision to stay with the Cyclones a boost for program

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell gives instructions on the field during the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game Sept. 14, 2019. The Cyclones lost 18-17.

Zane Douglas

Iowa State’s football coach Matt Campbell wouldn’t abandon his team this offseason.

When Campbell finished up last regular season with the Cyclones, there was a lot of uneasiness as the team would soon head into the offseason, with speculation Campbell could be on the move.

With the chance to interview for NFL jobs (one of them being the New York Jets), Campbell shut them down — saying, in essence, Iowa State was where he wanted to be and he wasn’t going to abandon the team he built.

No one would’ve blamed him for leaving to the NFL, but he made the decision to stay and would soon sign a contract extension to stay in Ames through 2024.

“He’s just been a great leader for everybody here and the city of Ames really,” said quarterback Brock Purdy. “We all look up to him and he has great relationships with all of us.”

Campbell is what some would call a player’s coach. He never throws his guys under the bus, he makes sure to be in their lives and every player that was asked about him had glowing things to say about him and his openness with the team.

The extension occurred early in December, which put some Ames folks at ease that he would stay, but the Jets were still reported to have interest in the three-year head coach when their season ended.

Reports were that the Jets wanted to bring him in to interview for the job, but the interest ran just one way. Campbell wouldn’t even consider it.

“I think the best thing about Coach Campbell is he’s so open,” said left tackle Julian Good-Jones. “I heard some things like at other schools you have to make an appointment to meet with the head coach, but that kind of threw me for a loop because that’s never been the deal with Coach Campbell.”

Campbell was brought in from Toledo following the end of the Paul Rhoads era at Iowa State. Although Rhoads captured a win at the 2009 Insight Bowl and made it to two more bowl games in his seven-year tenure, Rhoads’ teams were never very good and they were only able to celebrate a winning record once.

Campbell took over and after a 3-9 first year with the team, Campbell saw the team leap forward to an 8-5 record and a Liberty Bowl win against Memphis.

Off the backs of David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, along with Purdy — a true freshman at the time — Campbell saw his program leap forward with an 8-4 regular season and a trip to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Cyclones lost their game to Washington State in heartbreaking fashion, but the message was clear and Iowa State was firmly on the map.

Perhaps one of the program’s greatest accomplishments came just this season when College GameDay announced they would be coming to Ames for the Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk game that week.

The athletic director Jamie Pollard saw this and felt he needed to do something.

On Tuesday morning, Pollard announced that the Iowa State athletic department would be taking control of the Iowa State Center, which will allow them to start renovations on it to build a “multi-use development district.”

The announcement, while incorporating other things, was in part made thanks to the sustained success that Campbell has brought to this program.

The facilities will mainly be used for out-of-state people to come and watch the Cyclones play, which works well with recruitment and will make Campbell’s job easier.

“We’ve got an incredible leader in our football program,” Pollard said. “Doctor Wintersteen and our athletics program are absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes to retain our coaches.”

Pollard and University officials agree with the players on this matter. They recognize what they have with Campbell and they are willing to do what it takes to keep him around.

If it goes anything like the last offseason, it might not be too difficult for Pollard.