AMES, Iowa — Dedication is difficult to find for a team that’s 2-8 and hasn’t won a conference game. When temperatures are below freezing, even the biggest fans might elect to stay home.
But for the fans who showed up at Jack Trice Stadium, cold weather and bad football are just November expectations that come with supporting their Iowa State Cyclones.
“Our record and school spirit (keeps us coming),” Joel Weiler said with a smile. “You have to be positive, it’s Iowa State.”
Weiler’s referring to the Cyclones’ habit of either failing to find success or failing to meet expectations. In 2001, for example, Iowa State’s men’s basketball team earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, but was sent packing by Hampton in its first game.
Just another day in the life of a Cyclone fan.
“We aren’t meant to be good,” Alex Walters said. “We like to set new lows. You can always count on Iowa State to let you down. If they’re ever ranked No. 1, I’ll pick the 16 every time.”
But it’s the college football experience that keeps fans coming, even if they know the home team is likely overmatched. Mark Hargrafen didn’t hesitate when describing the Cyclones as a horrible team, but he’s more than willing to make the 22-mile drive from his home in Ankeny, Iowa.
Plus, there’s a chance for a surprise. Two years ago, Hargrafen and his friends saw Dan McCarney end his Cyclone coaching career with an upset of Missouri.
“The college football environment’s 30 minutes away from where we live,” Hargrafen said. “Last year, we did (go to every game).”
TIGER DEDICATION: Nobody could question the dedication of Missouri fans Mark and Frank Barhorst, who followed the Tigers to Ames on Saturday. For this game, Frank Barhorst came from Bethesda, Md., and Mark Barhorst was attending his 11th Missouri football game of the season.
“We just enjoy it,” Mark Barhorst said. “We enjoy college football.”
Mark and Frank Barhorst were the only two family members there for this game, but that’s not the case for Columbia games.
“At home games, the whole family shows up, and friends,” Mark Barhorst said. “We all tailgate."
SIGN OF RESPECT: In Greco-Roman wrestling, it’s a time-honored tradition for a wrestler to leave his shoes on the mat after the final match of his career, signifying his retirement.
At Iowa State, the band members do the same thing, leaving their shoes on the field at their last home game. They then walk off the field in their socks, playing the school’s fight song.
So Heidi Longnecker and Jenny Newell decided to honor the band members, specifically Andrew Cinnamon, by taking off their shoes in the parking lot and walking back to their tailgate in their socks.
“He’s a senior, he’ll be doing this today,” Longnecker said of Cinnamon. “He’s tailgated with us, so we just did a demonstration around our tailgate.”
“Here we are, for Andrew!” Newell added.
Well, for a few minutes. Shortly after their tribute, Longnecker and Newell put their shoes back on for warmth.
WARMTH ANY WAY POSSIBLE: The tailgating staples of burnt hot dogs and cheeseburgers were evident on the grill at Cayla Koch’s tailgate.
Right above them were Koch’s hands, as she tried to do whatever she could to stay warm.
“I thought there would be heaters in the Port-A-Pottys, and there wasn’t,” Koch said.
Koch added that she thought anyone there without a coat was insane, and she thought Ames restaurants should provide more free food.
CONFERENCE PREDICTOR: Iowa State fan Alex Jakobs says he only makes predictions when he feels confident. Missouri fans would hope that his confidence is misplaced.
“Missouri is going to win this game,” Jakobs said before kickoff. “They’re going to the Big 12 Championship, and they’re going to get their (butts) kicked by whoever’s in the Big 12 South. I think Oklahoma and Texas Tech are by far the best teams.”
SOUNDS OF VICTORY?: A bell sits outside Jack Trice Stadium, designed to be rung whenever the Cyclones win a football game.
With Iowa State’s record, the bell doesn’t get much use for its intended purpose, but Cyclone fans still give it a ring.
“People want to ring it all the time, but it’s supposed to be rung after the game,” Weiler said. “Usually, it’s a win, when people are walking out.”
When it is used for a Cyclone win, young kids are usually the first to start the sound of victory, according to Walters.
ONE-WOMAN ENTHUSIASM: Vickie Daniel, mother of quarterback Chase Daniel, made sure the Tiger players received a warm welcome when coming off the bus.
But in the line to greet the players, she was one of the only ones who could clearly be heard.
“Why aren’t people cheering?” Daniel asked. “Everybody’s so quiet.”
Daniel saved her biggest greeting for her son, whom she affectionately called “Chaser.”
“Have fun out there,” she said with a kiss.