The loss against Texas was the sort that could derail a season, and that has nothing to do with the fact the loss dropped Iowa State to 1-3.
It was a defeat of the worst nature — close, controversial — and, had it happened to a team not as well-coached as Iowa State, the damage could very well linger the rest of the season.
Head coach Paul Rhoads told his team in the locker room Thursday after the 31-30 loss that he would take care of everything. What he meant exactly, they didn't know. They'd soon find out, as Rhoads' impassioned post game speech blew up on the national scene. It didn't do anything to change the fact Iowa State had, in the words of linebacker Jeremiah George, had a win "stolen" from it, but it did affect how the Cyclones would react in the coming days. No whining, no second-guessing, no blame-gaming.
"Let me say how pleased I was Friday when our kids came to work with the right attitude and mindset," Rhoads said as he began Monday's press conference. "Sunday, they followed that up with an excellent, physical practice as we began prep for Texas Tech. We're gonna need a lll of that, gonna need a great week."
Although media access at the college level is far different than at the professional level, one thing holds true in each atmosphere. Each team needs a leader to take the crap. When the clubhouse empties after a bad loss in baseball, somebody needs to stick around and face the media swarm. From a personal experience covering the Colorado Rockies, that was Michael Cuddyer. While Cuddyer's bat could have yielded a nice return in the trade market — he led the National League with a .331 average this season — the skidding Rockies have kept Cuddyer the last two years in part because of his clubhouse presence.
"Somebody's gotta do it," he said once.
For Iowa State, that somebody is Rhoads. It should be that way, as he's the only one obligated to speak after each game, win or lose. What he did Thursday night, crafting together a postgame tirade he was sure would take the spotlight off his players in the wake of a crushing loss, allowed his Cyclones to begin the recovery process. FS1 and Sportscenter wouldn't need to focus on the dropped interceptions or the turnovers or any other miscues. They had, along with the controversial goal line happenings, their story
"To put on that kind of showcase it supports how [Rhoads] feels about us," safety Deon Broomfield said. "He's the same guy every day, he's not just acting like that. He wears his heart on his sleeve."