AMES — It’s that time of year when coaches’ names get thrown about left and right for vacancies at other programs, whether the fit makes sense or not.
Iowa State coach Matt Campbell has already been associated with openings like Tennessee, then disassociated after ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported on Saturday’s “College GameDay” that Campbell’s $9.4 million buyout was too steep of a price for the Volunteers.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of big openings and given what Campbell has done in his two years at Iowa State, teams will inquire.
Schools like TCU and Minnesota have already locked down their coaches with extensions to quell talks of those respective coaches leaving.
That’s important because the time between the end of the regular season and the bowl game is a time when recruiting picks up. Campbell said his first priority will be getting on the recruiting trail.
Teams are only allowed 15 practices for bowl preparation. Campbell said Iowa State will practice on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until the week before the bowl, which they’ll treat as a normal game-preparation week.
That leaves the weekdays of two or three weeks as heavy recruiting days.
What will Campbell tell recruits about whether he’s going to be at Iowa State long-term?
“You can tell the recruits whatever you want, but I think until you show it, and until it’s proven, then it is what it is,” Campbell said. “That’s the reality of the times we live in. Kids are too smart, they’re 18-22-year-old kids.
“It ends up being your loyalty to stay and being who you say you are,” Campbell said. “I think that’s the key to success in terms of longevity and building a program.”
Without a bonafide extension that ensures Campbell is staying, it’s just lip service.
Still, even if Campbell doesn’t get an extension and a raise in the next few weeks, he assured recruits and Cyclone Nation that he’s in Ames to stay.
“We’re here for the long haul, we’re going to build this thing the right way and we’re going to do it with those guys,” Campbell said.
Campbell has laid the foundation for Iowa State’s future. He’s started to build the culture that he wants — a player-led team that holds itself accountable and doesn’t flinch when the going gets tough.
Senior quarterback Kyle Kempt hopes that the team can use the close losses and the minor detail lapses the team had this year as a tool for next year with a new senior class and new fresh faces.
“As a senior class, we’ve really changed this culture and it goes to show for those young guys that those little details are the difference between us being 7-5 and 10-2,” Kempt said.