Peterson: What will Iowa State football off-season changes include?

Iowa State’s football season was over before Saturday’s embarrassing 48-point loss at TCU. It was over when three missed field goals were part of a 14-11 loss at Kansas, when cinch touchdown passes were dropped, and when the offensive line regressed after the Cy-Hawk game’s final drive.

Eventually we figured out that 2022 would be one of those seasons that coaches classify as "character-building."

Saturday's blowout loss was reminiscent of the 71-7 thumping against Baylor in 2013. That was the last time the NFL drafted a Cyclones offensive lineman. For a program that prides itself on being developmental – well, it hasn’t developed many offensive linemen, that’s for sure.

More:Peterson: Thoughts about an Iowa State football season that ends with tough decisions on the horizon

That’s a problem, and maybe the problem. Injuries also contributed to the team's rushing average of 108.0 yards a game, the program's worst since 93.5 yards a game in 1997. The 20.7 scoring average was the worst since 18.2 in 2007.

Now that it’s officially over, it’s time for Matt Campbell to make some changes, sooner rather than later. There must be some ready-to-play offensive linemen in the transfer portal. And a place-kicker, too. Maybe a quarterback to provide competition for Hunter Dekkers. I’m anticipating some re-configured offensive coaching staff assignments, at the least. With national letter of intent day approaching, change could come quickly. The transfer portal re-opens Dec. 5.

Standing pat a second off-season in a row won’t work for a coach who, in the past, has been loyal to his assistants.

It’s tough selling the program’s future without some noticeable change, and most of the fan chatter is about the offensive coordinator and the offensive line coach.

Will Nate Scheelhaase have his receivers/running backs position load be lightened? Tight ends coach Taylor Mouser is solid. I wonder about quarterbacks coach Joel Gordon.

That leaves line coach Jeff Myers and coordinator Tom Manning. Both could be gone. Both could stay. Whatever, is the outcome, let's hope some sort of decision is soon.

With BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF making the Big 12 one of those bulky conferences that are the rage in 2023, it’s time Iowa State changes, too.

Consider also that while the portal giveth, it also taketh away. This program lost significant players from the 2021 team with eligibility remaining. It’s naïve to think the same won’t happen in the weeks and months to come.

NIL initiatives will offer big opportunities for players who choose the "right” schools. Star players everywhere will receive offers. Right or wrong, it’s here. What’s been happening illegally at major programs for decades is now legal for everyone. We’re back to a wild, wild west world of recruiting that some people would contend was here all along.

Programs not generally considered college football blue bloods could be in trouble unless their supporters unlock bank accounts. These days, unfortunately, the line about providing a good education and a character-building experience doesn’t always carry as much weight as it used to.

The next class of recruits start signing national letters of intent Dec. 21. Ankeny quarterback J.J. Kohl is the four-star headliner. The son of former Cyclones kicker Jamie Kohl has stayed true to his word amid opportunities to flip his commitment.

Former Southeast Polk running back Abu Sama probably had chances to flip, too, but hasn’t. His 372-yard rushing game against West Des Moines Valley in helping the Rams win the Class 5A state championship opened a lot of eyes. Take advantage of the Cyclones’ weight room when he arrives, and he just might get significant snaps in 2023.

Southeast Polk running back Abu Sama is an Iowa State recruit who could get significant playing experience in 2023.
Southeast Polk running back Abu Sama is an Iowa State recruit who could get significant playing experience in 2023.

As you can see, Campbell’s plate is full. When not considering staff changes, he’s re-recruiting his own players while also making sure 2023 recruits stay committed. He’s hitting the transfer portal, or at least I assume he’s looking for some offensive linemen.

More:Iowa State football report card: Cyclones fail in regular-season finale against TCU

“A lot of things for us to evaluate where we are and where we need to move ourselves forward,” Campbell said after Saturday’s game. “Definitely a different offseason than we’ve had, and in some ways, we need it.

“We need the time to grow in a lot of ways.”

What did the Register’s Iowa State text-group say after the humiliating defeat by a team that just two seasons ago played in the Big 12 title game and won the Fiesta Bowl?

Text-group comment: Will there be any interest, either way, in the Cincinnati job, considering Luke Fickell is going to Wisconsin?

My comment: Campbell, an Ohioan, has better facilities in Ames. Iowa State’s fan base is better. With two-season records of 11-14 overall, including 6-12 in the Big 12, I wonder just how much interest there is in the 42-year-old from Massillon, Ohio. It’s probably still there, but he’d be a tougher sell to fan bases now than he was two seasons ago. His buyout of $4 million is not much of a factor, but I wonder how he’d handle coaching against his former school on a semi-regular basis? Cincinnati, you know, will be in the Big 12 next season. And no one in high places has even said he’s on Cincinnati’s list.

Text-group comment: We have faith that Matt Campbell is willing to make changes if they are needed. He will have to, or his philosophy of 'winning in the margins' will be nothing but empty rhetoric.

My comment: This is a critical off-season for Campbell, possibly the most critical of his head coaching career. Six losses this season and five in 2021 by one score or fewer won’t cut it. Iowa State football needs to actually start winning in those margins. How? That evaluation must start immediately. No one gets a free pass. If it includes fresh ideas, then so be it. That could come quickly. Maybe.

More:Mailbag: Where does Iowa State football go in a pivotal offseason?

Text-group comment: Open up the quarterback room to some real competition.

My comment: More than once I wondered if Campbell would bench Dekkers like he did with Brock Purdy last season against Iowa. A step back at quarterback was anticipated. Dekkers' inconsistency was expected, too. Competition never hurts, especially if that competition includes a veteran transfer quarterback.

Text-group comment: Without changes, we will see even worse results.

My comment: That pretty much sums up the thought among many fans.

Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Reach him at, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter @RandyPete.

This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Peterson: What will Iowa State football's offense look like in 2023?