AMES — Iowa State football coach Matt Campbell held a team meeting after his Cyclones upset then-No. 3 Oklahoma on the road.
The meeting was about how to deal with success. National pundits like Kirk Herbstreit repeatedly said Campbell would be gone after the season to a bigger and better school.
“In that team meeting we talked a lot about how you handle success and how you handle what gets said about players — and ego is the enemy in a lot of ways,” Campbell said. “And part of that is, is Coach Campbell leaving, is he going to this job or that job?
“That’s not happening. It’s not true. I brought it up in a team meeting but the reality of it is when it keeps showing up in 18-22-year-olds face, eventually you have to do something and be who you say you are in the process.”
On Monday, Campbell and athletic director Jamie Pollard did something. They announced a restructured contract for Campbell that pays him $3.5 million per year for six years.
Campbell came to Iowa State wanting to build a program and a culture that will sustain success, something the Cyclones haven’t had since the early 2000s.
Campbell said he and his staff are working relentlessly every day to achieve that.
Creating that culture at a school like Iowa State where national pundits don’t believe sustained winning is possible is challenging. That just fuels Campbell’s fire.
“You hear that (you can’t win at Iowa State),” Campbell said. “I said that in the middle of the season it almost fuels my fire. I feel like my fire is raging more today than it was two years ago when I got here about where we can take this football program and what we can do here.
“People feel like what we did this year was a fluke.”
But Campbell knows that to build a real, sustainable program and not just a flash in the pan, it has to be a slow build.
“In real football programs, the seniors teach the juniors how to lead so when it’s their time to lead they know how to lead and then it just goes on and on and on,” Campbell said. “That’s what happens in real programs. In programs where everybody is trying to shortcut it or trying to go get the next job then it becomes fractured and those things are really hard.”
It all comes down to one thing for Campbell — be who you say you are.
“The reality from my end of it is there has not been one day where I’ve ever been disappointed that I came to Iowa State,” Campbell said. “There’s been some tough days, but there’s been some great rewards of it, too. To watch this senior class and what they’ve been able to do to flip the culture has been really rewarding.
“Changing that national narrative is going to take time. We know that. Consistency and consistency of success is what changes the narrative.”