Notebook: Iowa State football doubling down on culture

Iowa State football head coach Matt Campbell talks with the media during the first day of fall camp Aug. 2.

Christian Royston

AMES – The Iowa State football season is just over a month away, and players are reporting for the fall camp to prepare for the road ahead. 

With the start of fall camp, head coach Matt Campbell held a press conference to discuss what to expect in the upcoming season. There is a lot to be excited about as the new season rears its head, but for now, the Cyclones are taking things day by day.

The first item on the agenda for Campbell is how this season would be different than other seasons. It’s clear that the tides of college football are changing, but for Campbell, the focus stays the same.

“Obviously, the landscape of college athletics continues to change, and yet I think it’s constantly asking you and your program how you’re defining yourself,” Campbell said. “From that standpoint, we have continued to really double down on the foundational pieces that have built Iowa State football.”

Campbell always talks about the strong culture he created at Iowa State and how it affects the program’s success. Under Campbell’s guidance, the Cyclones have seen success as they’ve never seen before.

The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” holds true as ever for the Cyclones, as Campbell keeps the program’s foundation strong. There’s no need to shake things up just because the atmosphere is changing around the program.

Iowa State has always seen success when it has a strong culture, and it’s no different now. To continue making progress in the right direction, the team needs to build off of what was done in the past and make sure to set up the future for success.

For Campbell, the first key point to the foundation on which the team’s culture was built around is trust.

“The very first item that we evaluate a player on is, do we trust you?” Campbell said.

The idea of trust is something that Campbell preaches constantly, and it’s one of the reasons players that have taken over leadership roles succeed as much as they do. Players have to earn the trust of the coaches and every other player on the team. 

For the unit to operate as efficiently as possible, they need to trust each other. Last season, the receivers trusted that Brock Purdy would place the ball where he needed to, and he trusted that the receivers would make the plays.

The offense also trusted that the defense would put them in a good position to win the game and vice versa. The flowing of trust through the whole team is why the Cyclones have seen success in recent years.

One position that Campbell talked about where trust is very important is the quarterback position. Now that Purdy is gone, it’s time for Hunter Dekkers to step up and take the reigns.

Dekkers has some live game experience and has worked hard to earn the trust of his teammates, not only over the summer but in previous seasons as well. That is the main reason that Campbell is confident that Dekkers is the right person to lead the quarterback position as Purdy did in the past.

“Those guys have earned the right to be trusted by everybody,” Campbell said.

That trust doesn’t just stop on the field, however. Campbell trusts that his players have the right mindset to perform on the biggest stages.

Campbell talked about trusting the players physically and mentally, as well as trusting them on and off the field. At the end of the day, he trusts that every young man on the team is exemplary in every aspect of themselves.

“We talk a lot about perfecting yourself, becoming the best version of yourself, and part of that is having a process to do that day in and day out,” Campbell said.

One player who came to mind when talking about having a great process is wide receiver, Xavier Hutchinson. Hutchinson has seen success throughout his career because of the way he’s worked on perfecting himself.

Hutchinson has become a prime example for everyone on the team of how building a strong culture as a team starts with working on yourself. He’s grown into a leader on the team because of how he builds on the culture of the team as a whole.

Campbell will continue to preach the importance of being on top of one’s game day in and day out, on and off the field. If everyone on the team can build strong consistency, the entire team will succeed.

“I’d say one and two is the ability to be trusted and the ability to do your job and show the ability to do your job with great consistency,” Campbell said.

That ability to do their jobs every day is why the team has been successful in the past. Looking forward, all they can do now is continue to work on consistency.

The most important thing for winning football games is ensuring the entire team works as one cohesive unit. If one player isn’t doing their job to the best of their ability, it becomes very hard for the team to win.

Campbell stressed how important it is for every single player to be consistent throughout the season if they want to succeed. With the season inching closer and closer, it’s now time for the team to grind out the last bit of practice they need to get to the consistency level that’s expected of them.

“You have to do your 1/11th whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams,” Campbell said. “If you don’t do your job, you are probably going to get our team beat.”

When it comes down to it, winning is the top priority. Campbell knows what it takes to win and has seen what causes the team to lose.

The Cyclones saw success in the past because of the strong culture that they built. Now with new challenges and tough competition ahead, relying on that strong culture will serve them well again.