With the latest round of crippling transfer news for the Greg McDermott-led Cyclones, another effort to manage perceptions and expectations is well underway. The unflappable loyalists are working frantically to dig up every miniscule shred of evidence to try to build the case that this thing may actually work out in the end. It’s amazing the trivial things that some fans can cling to, while at the same time ignoring much more obvious and worrisome data.
Even more aggravating than this illogical propaganda effort is the suggestion that those who are upset and speaking their minds are somehow lesser fans who need to “get a grip,” as if it’s a bad thing to point to the massive leak in the hull as evidence that the ship may be sinking. It’s apparently more noble to remain silent than it is to suggest we start loading the lifeboats while there’s still something worth saving. Last I checked, nonchalance, even in the face of a program’s continued destruction, was not a prerequisite for being a fan.
“We need to get behind the coach and program” is the rallying cry. For the record, I was behind the coach 100 percent for the better part of his four terrible seasons, but no longer. Don’t tell me who and what I should or should not support, especially given the circumstances. I equate this back-and-forth between fans to a group of shareholders debating the future of their CEO. In this case, the CEO’s plan has taken the company to the lowest of lows with no signs of improvement on the horizon, yet some shareholders are insisting that we need to rally behind the man. Why? So we can build false morale and attempt to prop up our share prices in the short-term, only to drive the company into the ground in the long-term? No thanks.
This short-term, false morale has limited and fleeting benefits. Some insist that poor fan morale can negatively impact recruiting. Perhaps in some cases, but I have my doubts that this would be at the top of a recruit’s list of concerns when looking at Iowa State. Somehow I don’t envision Joey Basketball having the following internal dialogue: “Boy, I could really see myself going and playing for a coach who has achieved nothing in four seasons and continues to lose players in droves, but their fanbase just doesn’t seem all that happy. I’m not sure I can play for a fanbase who isn’t happy with that situation.” Give me break. Don’t point to the speck of sawdust in my eye and ignore the giant sequoia in Greg McDermott’s eye.
As a fan, there are few things more annoying than having the failures of a program and the resulting frustration directed at you. In terms of limited financial support, this can be an issue, but Cyclone fans have provided this support at unprecedented levels in recent years. We have plenty of room for improvement, but McDermott has received more overall support (i.e. new practice facility, new academic center, Hilton renovations, lengthy contract, unjustified attendance, etc.) than most of his predecessors. To have the finger pointed at you and be told to fall in line after four seasons of failure is extremely insulting.
We need change, and the sooner the better. Change may be financially impossible right now, but that doesn’t mean fans have to grin and bear it. Here we are after four years, and our coach had as many players leave the program this season for reasons other than graduation (Pomlee, Staiger, Hamilton, and Buckley) as he had conference wins. No stability. No success. No grin on my face. Don’t tell me how to be a fan. As bizarre as you apparently find my vocal dissent, I can assure you that your ability to stand by quietly is equally bizarre in my eyes. You question my fandom because I can no longer “get behind” a coach whose tenure has been nothing but destructive. The fact that you still can makes me begin to question where your loyalties truly lie- with a man or with a basketball program that is much bigger than any one man.
By the way, I promise to provide more uplifting and positive blog posts when the football season rolls around. This is depressing me as much as it is every other fan.