I'm old enough to remember when Iowa State was the laughing stock of the Big 12 conference in football. If it hadn't been for Kansas, they would have been the worst team for sure. Baylor was right there with them too until Art Briles came along and jump-started the program. That happens sometimes when a program takes on the identity of its leader and plays above itself.

For Baylor, that ended poorly.

For Iowa State though, it's starting to look like Matt Campbell is turning Iowa State into a bonafide program instead of a flash-in-the-pan stepping stone to the Big Ten like so many of us thought. Not only is the school shelling out to keep Campbell in Ames, but they are also upping his assistant coach budget to bring more coaching talent to the party.

I think Matt Campbell is arguably the best coach in the Big 12. Lincoln Riley certainly has a leg up in the Big 12 title argument but who has done more based on what they have in the pantry? Undoubtedly Matt Campbell. Riley was handed the keys to a Ferrari on day one and has maintained its integrity and maybe added a new exhaust or something. I'm not a car guy so that analogy was a stretch. For the sake of the argument I'll continue, Campbell was given a Pinto. When he took over and has outraced Riley twice in the head to head matchups.

It's been reported that the only two jobs that Cambell will leave Iowa State for are Ohio State and Notre Dame and neither of those jobs is opening anytime soon so I bet Campbell will complete this contract at Iowa State and continue to make Red Raiders Big 12 opponent's lives a living hell.

It's especially frustrating as a Texas Tech fan to see Campbell be so successful at Iowa State considering that Iowa State has beaten Texas Tech in five consecutive seasons including a 66-10 shellacking when Campbell was a rookie coach and Patrick Mahomes was a Red Raider.

Since 2016, Campbell has recruited at a similar level to Texas Tech but Iowa State has gone 35-28 while the Red Raiders have struggled to a 24-35 mark. Yes, Iowa State has played more games, that is what happens when you get to Bowl games and appear in conference championships.

If this blog comes off as bitter and jealous, that's because it is.

Texas Tech used to be Iowa State. This isn't a Mike Leach love letter, but Cambell is doing with Iowa State what Leach did with Texas Tech. He's making them relevant. Not only in the Big 12 but nationally. Iowa State hasn't truly been in championship contention, but people talk about them like they are. Which has helped build them into a better program.

The good news is that programs can shift quickly. Matt Campbell was 3-9 in his first season before jumping to 8-5 in year two. Baylor bounced back from an atrocious collapse following Briles and bounced to a conference title game under Matt Rhule. They went 1-11 and 7-6 in the two years prior to going 11-3. Heck, Briles went 4-8, 4-8, and 7-6 before reeling off several 10-win seasons.

Matt Wells is in a pivotal year three and is entering the make or break year with his first full offseason as a head coach without interruption and a brand new offensive coordinator. Can he make the jump back to relevance? Only time will tell.

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