Belinson: Campbell’s contract extension shows the power of commitment

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell speaks with media Dec. 31 as Iowa State arrives in Arizona ahead of the 2020 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl. 

Matt Belinson

Commitment. It’s a concept that a lot of people preach, but very few act upon.

In fact, our world encourages people to constantly search for what’s next. “Where’s my next opportunity?” “Never be satisfied.” “This is just a stepping stone to my next gig.” Everyone’s heard something similar.

You land a nice job — OK, but what’s next? You get a big promotion — Sounds good, but what’s next?

In Matt Campbell’s case, you lead Iowa State football to a 9-3 record (the best in program history), take the program to its first ever Big 12 Championship and win its first ever New Year’s Six game.

But what’s next?

On Monday, Iowa State Athletics and Matt Campbell gave the answer: Commitment pays off.

With the extension, Campbell, entering the 2021 season for his sixth year as head football coach of the Cyclones, and Iowa State Athletics agreed to a contract extension through Dec. 31, 2028. The new agreement adds three years to his original deal and provides Campbell an additional $3 million for his staff.

Back on Jan. 25, Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard released a short video explaining to fans the updated financial situation for the athletics department. After giving new information about Iowa State’s smaller budget shortfall and more, Pollard announced Campbell’s contract was being renegotiated.

If someone stepped into Campbell’s shoes, you could be thinking, Why choose to stay? You’ve never had more leverage to use in a new job search than after the greatest season ever?”

But Pollard made it clear why Campbell is going to be in Ames through nearly the end of the decade: Iowa State Athletics pledged money back into a program Campbell has committed years of his life building from the ground up.

“One of the reasons Coach Campbell chose to stay at Iowa State is our investment of $90 million in the Sports Performance Center,” Pollard said in his video to fans Jan. 25. “Although COVID has slowed down a lot of things in our world, the one thing that didn’t slow down is the construction on the Sports Performance Center.”

Iowa State was a laughing stock and a “death sentence” for most of college football, Campbell said as much after Iowa State’s 34-17 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl win Jan. 2. Now the rest of college football is laughing to hide their fear. Fear of what possibly seven more years of Campbell and his staff can accomplish in Ames.

It’s important to remember, Iowa State would not be where it is today without the choice of many to “stay the course,” as Campbell would say.

Let’s be real. It would have been easy to have some questions after Campbell’s first season as head coach when Iowa State finished 3-9. After decades of losing, the coach who comes in preaching change starts off with more of the same.

I would bet most people would have already lost hope at that point. But I don’t blame you. Like I said before, everyone grows up expecting to get more and on a bigger and better stage. 

But commitment isn’t about getting to the end goal right away. You have to stay through the tough times by continuing to support and invest.

Five years after joining Iowa State, Campbell knows how strong the commitment has been, and his new contract reflects that.

“I am extremely thankful to our President, Dr. [Wendy] Wintersteen, and our Athletic Director, Jamie Pollard, for supporting our staff and program,” Campbell said in the release. “The university has made a terrific commitment to Cyclone football, and I’m thrilled to continue to move this program forward.”

If you’re a Cyclone fan, you know what Campbell said is true: The commitment on both sides has been terrific.

If Iowa State continues to have this type of trust and collaboration, expect the next decade to be full of more program-changing moments.