Mauren: Stop with the Campbell rumors

Columnist Jacob Mauren wants rumors about Matt Campbell leaving Iowa State’s football program to stop.

Jacob Mauren

I usually do not like to start off with burning hot takes, but I must say I like watching the Cyclones win more than I like watching them lose.

And as everyone knows, there was not much winning before Matt Campbell. Four of Iowa State’s seven winning seasons this century have come under Campbell, with a fifth in the works, barring a historic meltdown. Knock on wood, do it right now. That is why I get nervous when Campbell’s name gets brought up in nearly every conversation about an open head coach spot, and why I will use this to reassure myself, and hopefully you, that the coach is not going anywhere soon. 

While Iowa State footballs’ abysmal state in 2015 may have looked like an open grave for many, Campbell saw something else. Having practically no shoes to fill and little winning tradition to stick to, Campbell saw a program that he could mold to his every desire and custom build from the ground up. And that is what he has done.

Since landing in Ames, the head coach has crafted a culture that many programs could only dream of. Often playing as underdogs, the team has embraced a “Five Star Culture” as they bring a team of two, three and maybe some rare four-star players to triumph over some of the sport’s biggest brands. The result is a team that almost always plays with a chip on their shoulder and reflects the character of the coach. 

The program has also looked to its past to reignite the brand as it embraces the Jack Trice legacy with new energy. The story of Jack Trice is a tragic yet powerful one that can unite fans, new and old, into a true Cyclone nation. While the stadium has donned his name for decades, the “Trice Stripes” have made many new appearances on players’ uniforms, fan merchandise and athletic facilities as the department uses it to build a fresh culture under Campbell. 

I have yet to even mention the physical transformation that the program has undergone in Campbell’s time. This season, both a brand new North end zone and athlete performance center were completed, giving Iowa State some of the best facilities in the nation. These will help boost the performance of current players on and off the field while also acting as a lure for high-level recruits. The department has also begun work on a massive pedestrian bridge, the start of a long-term plan to redevelop the area around Jack Trice Stadium and Hilton Coliseum that would change the face of Ames. 

In short, Campbell exists in a program that has been custom-built for and by him with brand new facilities, a situation most coaches would kill to be in. So I find it hard to believe the coach would suddenly bail for a program that has its own customs and expectations that may not align with Campbell. 

Campbell also has little reason to believe his success on the field will run out. While next year’s team will see many fresh starters, the next quarterback and running back up — Hunter Deckers and Deon Silas, respectively — have been impressive in their limited playing time this season. The team will also bring in one of their best-recruiting classes in 2022, ranked 27th in the country. 

And, of course, the most obvious point to make is Campbell’s contract. Just eight months ago, the school signed a contract to stay at Iowa State until at least 2028. Considering he was already signed until 2025, it would make no sense for him to sign an extension if he was looking for a way out anytime soon.

I like Campbell, and I don’t want to see him leave. So when he gets pushed towards gigs like USC, LSU and even Penn State, I get nervous that he will be tempted by what many consider to be more prestigious programs. However, I must remember Campbell has it pretty darn good here in Ames, and he seems to like what he is building. Some coaches value the long grind of building a program over a quick cash grab, and we must hope and believe that our guy is one of them.