Comparing the years

Jeremy Gustafson

The last two years in Cyclone athletics have been possibly the two greatest of all time . at least it’s up for debate. But which year was the best? This looks like a job for an end-of-the-year-filler-one-last-paycheck column.

Part I: Football.

Two great years, two winning seasons, two bowl games, one bowl win. Well that’s pretty much it for the argument, right? Surely the 2000 Bowl champion team is better than the 2001 Mainstay Independence Bowl losers, right?


But each team had its charm. The senior-led 2000 team set a school-record with nine victories, including the bowl win over Pittsburgh. The 2001 team lived up to high expectations even after losing a horde of seniors. Neither team beat a ranked opponent, but each beat the teams it was supposed to.

The 2000 team had Reggie Hayward, Sage Rosenfels and James Reed, who are all in the NFL now.

The 2001 team had Mike Banks, Ennis Haywood (to be fair he was on the 2000 team as well), Kevin DeRonde and others who are getting a shot at the NFL.

But if the two squads matched up in some sort of celebrity spring game, you gotta believe the 2000 team would take the 2001 squad to the house, simply because the defense was better. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come down to a field goal.

Those 2000 team members would find out one thing for sure – it was a lot easier chasing Sage around than Seneca.

Part II: Women’s basketball.

The minute it was announced that the Midwest Regional was in Ames everyone said “the road to the Final Four goes through Hilton.”

Don’t shake your head, you did.

In hindsight, that wasn’t fair, but hindsight is always 20/20.

This years’ Cyclone women’s team was good, but not like last year’s team. Angie Welle, Lindsey Wilson and Tracy Gahan made up `The Big Three’ of this year’s squad. Sounds intimidating, yes, but add Megan Taylor to that mix and you’ve got `The Big Four’ of the Cyclones one year ago.

Throw in a healthy Erica Junod and an experienced Erica Haugen and you’ve got one helluva team. If only they would have had depth.

The 2001-02 Cyclones were great, but I don’t believe that the 2000-01 Big 12 Conference Tournament champs would have lost a home game to BYU in the second round of the NCAA tourney.

Part III: Men’s basketball.

Duh! No comparison here, but just for the heck of it, let’s do it.

Each team had Jake Sullivan and Shane Power, which is more than next year’s squad can say. Each team lost their first game of the Big 12 tournament, and I’ll bet, if they would have somehow made it to the bid dance, the 2001-02 Cyclones could have lost in the first round just like the Jamaal Tinsley-led Cyclones did in 2000-01.

But enough negativity. I venture to bet that next year’s team won’t be nearly as bad as this year’s – even without Power. Look for a lot more wins, and a run at the upper division in the Big 12.

Part IV: Cael Sanderson.

By my watch I am probably the 123rd person to say this, but who cares – watching Cael do what he did was maybe one of the greatest achievements I, or anyone for that matter, will witness.

He never had a bad day at work – NEVER, 159-0, four titles, three Dan Hodge awards – it simply doesn’t get any better than that.

I wish I had covered wrestling so that I could have had a chance to get to know Cael better, but recently when his Wheaties box was unveiled I talked to him and I’m glad I got at least one chance to talk to the best wrestler ever.

Take that Hawkeyes.

As far as Cael this year versus Cael last year – that’s like going into a Chicago-land bar and asking who would win, Ditka or 1,000 mini-Ditkas.

It’s not even fair to compare, just knowing that he’s the greatest will do.

Part V: Four in a row against Iowa.

This is probably my favorite thing about my tenure at Iowa State – four straight victories in football. Iowa State ended the Hawks’ 15-year winning streak and, poof, just like that all the Hawk fans shut up.

It was beautiful.

So which year was better? If you go by wins, definitely 2000-01. But thanks to Cael Sanderson, 2001-02 ranks right up there.

I don’t know what will happen next year, but at least I’ll feel like I went out on top.

Jeremy Gustafson is a senior in journalism and mass communication from Ogden. He is sports editor of the Daily.