Before you run, you must learn to walk

Paul Kix

Doubt is a black cloud. It still lingers over the ISU campus.

“How good are these guys, really,” or “I can’t believe they played so flat — especially on Homecoming.” Statements like this have been bouncing off the campus watering holes, lecture halls and sidewalks.

But the cynics are right.

The role of the ISU football team was played last weekend by a bunch of bad actors.

Oh ye of little faith. Before the Cyclones can rise to renown stardom, they must first fall flat on their faces.

And then get up again; only to be shoved aside once more.

It is a universal truth in sports. The path to success is sprinkled with potholes that love to throw you on your keester.

The Chicago Bulls are forever etched in basketball lore. Only the Boston Celtics of the 1960s have dominated a decade as much as the Bulls did the ’90’s.

Yet the Detroit Pistons were the annual road block that Chicago could never sneak around in the in the late ’80’s and 1990.

When the championships did not come, fans began doubting the draft pick spent on Scottie Pippen.

Some even questioned the heart of Michael Jordan.

But 10 years and six titles later, the Bulls record speaks for itself.

John Elway ended his career with two Super Bowl Championships. Yet these rings were Elway’s first of his career.

In the ’80’s, the Elway-led Broncos were one of the NFL’s best teams. They were just never “the best.”

They played in three Super Bowls in a four-year span. They lost all three: to the Giants in 1987, the Redskins in 1988 and the 49ers in 1990.

Elway claimed winning his first Super Bowl was one of the greatest moments of his life.

This affirms that the bruises and blood makes the sweet drink of success all the tastier.

“But the Bulls and Broncos,” you say “were contenders, Iowa State has been miserable for 25 years.”

Consider yourself lucky. 25 years is nothing.

From 1955 to 1988 Kansas State won 14 football games. The Wildcats closed out the latter half of the 1980’s with a 1-36-1 record.

For 33 years, the Wildcat cheerleaders, to keep their sanity, ridiculed their own team.

Enter Bill Snyder.

In his first season as head coach in 1989, the Wildcats resembled the years of futility that came before Snyder, finishing 1-10.

The next three years, the Wildcats hovered around mediocrity.

In his fifth season as head honcho in 1993, Snyder’s team won its first bowl game in school history, beating Wyoming 52-17 in the Copper Bowl, finishing the year 9-2-1.

In the six seasons since, Kansas State has not once failed to win at least nine games.

In fact, the Wildcats have finished with at least 11 victories in each of the past three years.

But before you can run, you must walk.

Snyder honed his craft for most of the ’80’s at the University of Iowa, alongside Dan McCarney.

Snyder has “always been a work-aholic,” McCarney said. “He’s done a marvelous job [at K-State],” he added.

Some fans still grumble because the kind of rapid success of Kansas State has not come as easily for the Cyclones. Theories abound, but McCarney believes a few things separate his team from Snyder’s.

“Bill was in the Big 8,” McCarney said, when he turned the program around. “We [are] in the Big 12.”

The Wildcats had four non-conference games as opposed to Iowa State’s three. One of which, McCarney notes, is against the state-rival Iowa.

Even though the bar has been raised a notch for McCarney, significant strides have still been made.

The 5-1 start was the best for a Cyclone team in 20 years. The current 5-2 record is one of the six best starts for a Cyclones team since World War II.

And regardless of the outcomes of the Colorado and Kansas State games, a winning record will be posted on the road this year for the first time since 1989.

One game does not decide the fate of a season or an era. The Cyclones will someday be recognized as a football school.

And the program will have the scrapes and scratches to prove it.