Throw the records out the window. At least for now.
No one is going to try and dispute the fact that Matt Campbell and his team had sky-high expectations. We at the Iowa State Daily sure thought so.
They played well enough for long enough in the 2020 pandemic-shortened season to warrant fans looking up prices for flights to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl, or Miami for the Orange Bowl.
Heck, some people were probably already weighing the decision of flying or driving to Indianapolis, the site of the National Championship game. Just in case. The stakes were that high, and the team was that exciting.
Not to throw a wet blanket on the whole situation, but the Cyclones are more than likely going to be playing in a bowl game that changes its name and sponsorship every three years, and you just happen to turn it on one Saturday morning.
They enter the Thanksgiving holiday at 6-5, and need a win on Black Friday against TCU to avoid a .500 season. They are bowl eligible, but barely. The Big 12 is not in their control, and their placement on the Big 12 ladder is frankly irrelevant at this point.
Hopefully, no one's taking to any comment section to declare this story a falsified one, or even an entirely negative one: Iowa State had earned national respect, and with it came expectations. Those were not met, and now they face the ridicule that comes with it.
But everyone has been seeing, or feeling, that disappointment for weeks. So, I'm not here to pile on.
What I am here to do, however, is introduce a perspective that may prove complex for those who live and die with standings, and what the national media say about their precious Cyclones.
The perspective provides a much simpler, more enjoyable trip into Jack Trice Stadium while still likely having some semblance of food comatose from family Thanksgivings the day before. It was also one echoed by Matt Campbell and players after another defeating loss, this time at the hands of the Sooners.
A potential perspective to introduce is this: enjoy each and every play against the Horned Frogs, because you'll never know when a play will be the last you see from your favorite Cyclone in their home stadium.
Now it may be easy for some to put aside their disdain for what has unfolded this season. But for others, while understood and respected, living in the moment and soaking up the Ames sun (or more than likely, clouds) can prove difficult, even impossible.
Campbell and his squad used it as their main sentiment postgame in Norman. And one quote and point of view stood above the rest and likely will be used again before it's all said and done.
"If you’re blinking, you’re going to miss it and what you’re missing is the best class to ever go through this school," Campbell said.
While literally you are allowed to blink, his emotional and statistically-correct statement is one that should be plastered on every entrance into Jack Trice come Black Friday.
Walk into the stadium, and just forget for three-plus hours what has occurred this season. And be sure to come early and bring tissues, because this may be the most emotional (and longest) Senior Day recognition this city has ever seen.
Brock Purdy, Mike Rose, Charlie Kolar, Chase Allen, Jake Hummel, Xavier Hutchinson and Greg Eisworth. To name a few. There's 23 in all.
Redshirt and true seniors alike, the list is littered with guys Cyclone faithful won't soon forget.
There's also the added possibility that stars Will McDonald and Breece Hall, both juniors, could depart for the NFL Draft. While they won't be given their true flowers pregame, it could also be their last time in the Iowa State home locker room.
The team will go through almost a complete facelift by the time Fall 2022 rolls around and they kick off against Southeast Missouri State.
But this isn't to say fans should anticipate a massive step back. With the amount of bad bounces and last-second defeats in the 2021 campaign, it wouldn't be at all shocking if the 2022 team, record-wise, takes a step forward.
However, next season is next season and predictions being made now should be deemed foolish. Plus, that's not what this article is about.
It's about making sure you don't take Brock Purdy for granted, because Ames may never see a guy who breaks as many records as he does all while caring as much for a school as he has.
It's about realizing that Ames may never see a bond as strong as that of Chase Allen and Charlie Kolar. The best of friends, who combined to create an absolute menace of a tight-end room.
Finally, it's about making sure that this particular class of Cyclone seniors doesn't go under-appreciated, just because the record hasn't gone their way this season.
I can almost guarantee you, no one feels worse and more gut-wrenched than the guys who poured their heart and soul into a process that Campbell instilled to lead them to new heights.
The heights were reached in Arlington in 2020, and in Arizona in the early stages of 2021. You saw what the culmination of honing in on "precision and detail" got this Cyclone team.
But that was last year, and this is now. They welcome a TCU team to town in their regular season finale who has gone through plenty in their own right this season. They're 5-6, so the Horned Frogs will likely come out swinging in hopes of earning their sixth win and becoming bowl-eligible.
Yes, 7-5 looks a lot better than 6-6. But the criticism and cynicism has been exhausted by this point already. Put it aside, at least for a time, and try and send a senior class like none other out in the best way possible.
Make sure they feel like the love they have for Iowa State's fanbase is felt, appreciated and, most importantly, reciprocated.