Belinson: Whatever happens next is unprecedented, so just enjoy the ride

Iowa State running back Breece Hall rushes up the sideline for Iowa State’s first touchdown against West Virginia on Dec. 5 at Jack Trice Stadium. Hall finished his day rushing for 97 yards and one touchdown.

Matt Belinson

Without question, Iowa State football had its best regular season in program history. But like Matt Campbell and his team likes to say, the job’s not finished quite yet.

A program that has never gotten as close to a Big 12 Championship as it is right now is one win over Oklahoma away from becoming Big 12 Champions for the first time in, oh yeah, forever.

And who knows, if Iowa State takes care of the Sooners on Saturday, there is a shot at making the College Football Playoff. If the cards don’t go in the Cyclones’ favor on that end, a New Year’s Six Bowl is likely.

Sounds like a pretty successful postseason to me.

But if you’re an Iowa State fan, you have to remember what this program has come from to get to all of these possibilities. From a 3-9 season to now with the Cyclones in the Big 12 title game, perspective will be important this week and the weeks after.

So no matter what happens Saturday in the championship game, in the College Football Playoff rankings or even the bowl game destination, Iowa State fans should just enjoy the ride this magical season has already taken them on up to this point. No reason to stop going with the flow now.

Would a loss in the Big 12 Championship hurt and be somewhat disappointing for Iowa State fans? No doubt, but again, look at what this team has done up to this point.

They went 8-2, 8-1 in conference play, during a global pandemic and had basically no interruptions with COVID-19 on their schedule. They overcame a bad loss to Louisiana in week one and controlled their own destiny and have used arguably the best roster in Iowa State history to finally reach the turning point in the program and make it to their first-ever Big 12 Championship.

As you probably have figured out, this is uncharted territory they are about to enter. So in my mind, anything that happens from here on out, Iowa State fans should be happy they even made it to this point.

I don’t need to tell you this program has been in the mud, probably even below the mud for decades, so why be filled with anger or bitterness if Iowa State happens to lose in the Big 12 Championship game or loses out on a New Year’s Six Bowl?

I could go back even further, but for relevancy’s sake, before Campbell took over, the last time the program finished above .500 was in 2009. Now that Campbell is here, the program has been given real hope and the success to back it up.

Again, it’s all about perspective.

Let’s be honest, before this season began, we didn’t even know if we would get a whole season to watch, let alone that Iowa State, I’ll say it again, IOWA STATE would end up right on the cusp of historic success and have a berth in the Big 12 Championship. But they are here now, and that’s great news for Campbell and the culture he has been trying to build and that’s great for Cyclone fans who have been suffering for far too long.

But this has never happened before, so everything from here on out is a success in my book. Yes, losing in the Big 12 Championship would qualify. 

The Big 12 Championship will be an important moment for this program, you have me there, but getting there in the first place should bring with it just as much, if not more, celebration from fans.

If they lose, they lose and the program is still in the best shape it’s ever been to try again next season. If they win, Cyclone fans will finally have a team to call champions. Either way, enjoying the ride is all you can really ask for going forward.

No matter what happens next, you have to remember where this team was and how much it has already accomplished in the toughest season ever.

Remember, these uncharted waters are uncharted by Iowa State for a reason, so anything that happens now should still be celebrated.