Cyclones look at the art of trash talk

Jeremiah Davis

There is this thing that happens on football fields, basketball courts and every other field of play across the country. It is something that has gone on for decades and transcends all generations.

It is — what some may call — the art of talking trash.

“It’s not like it’s a new thing,” said coach Paul Rhoads. “[Talking trash] has been taking place for a long, long time. Guys that I played with did it.”

Talking trash, or antagonizing your opponent to gain a mental advantage, has long been a technique athletes have used to win. In a physical game like football, players often seek a mental edge to take their game to the next level.

“I’m a fluent trash talker. I feel like it just puts me kind of in the game more,” said safety Jacques Washington. “I feel like it gives me an edge in my game, and I utilize it.”

As many of the coaches have played themselves, many have taken part. Rhoads said he did not take part, saying he was afraid his mom would find out and “come down out of the stands and rip me a new one,” and that it just was not a part of what helped him play his best.

They are aware it always has been, and probably always will be, a part of the game.

The staff and its players know what it does for the guys on the field and encourages expression of who they are — to a certain point.

“I think there are different personalities that respond in different ways,” Rhoads said. “What I’ve always encouraged to the kids I’ve coached — you’ve got to know who you are. I think it’s important you know who you are and don’t vary from that. If you can stay controlled and talk and that allows you to stay at your potential, then that’s probably what you do.”

Linebacker Jake Knott said he does not mind when guys talk a little trash, but usually finds himself watching out to make sure the talking does not backfire. At the same time, though, he gets a kick out of it after the fact.

“I’m more of the guy to try to stop it [during the game], because we had too many penalties early on,” Knott said with a laugh when asked about his teammates’ trash talk. “Usually it’s after the game, you kind of go back and reflect on what happened, what took place… . There’s too much vulgarities [to repeat]. There’s not too many classy things that come out.”

The best, or at least most proficient, trash talker on the ISU roster now, it seems, it cornerback Leonard Johnson. Both Knott and Washington cited the senior as the best on the team.

“Leonard Johnson, there’s no doubt,” Knott said when asked who the best was. “He’s a fun guy to listen to out there. He kind of gets everybody going and he doesn’t back down from anybody.”

Washington — who also cited Tracy Moore of Oklahoma State and Kendall Wright of Baylor as great trash talkers he has been around — also believes Johnson is the best on the team, apart from himself at least.

“L.J. has the edge,” Washington said. “He doesn’t want to be beat any time. When he makes a play, he wants to let you know too… . We talk trash and that’s just our nature. If you take that element out of our game we wouldn’t be as excited.”