I woke up early on Monday morning. I’m not sure if it was the excitement of the forthcoming trip or if the rumors of Greg McDermott’s departure were so exciting to me that I was like a little kid on Christmas anxiously awaiting the chance to rip the wrapping paper off of his new Omega Supreme!
As I prepared for the trip (as much as I always wish that I was a night before packer – I am definitely a 15 minutes before leaving packer) I listened to the local sports talking heads Deace and Miller discuss McDermott’s departure to Creighton. Only they weren’t using words like “potential” or “possible”. They were talking about his departure as being a done deal.
I always liked McDermott. I hoped that he was going to get it done. While almost all of my other Cyclone friends had left the McDermott sinking ship, I was certain that this past year was going to be his season. He had two future NBA players on his roster. A capable veteran point guard. A pair of sharpshooters. A serviceable center. A bench full of athletic underclassmen.
However, it all went downhill very fast. I remember the moment that I knew that McDermott wasn’t going to get it done.
Jill and I had went over to Derrick and Jen’s to watch a movie. Derrick had called me earlier in the day to make sure that we were a “unified front” on being able to watch the Cyclones demolish Northwestern before we watched a movie. Of course we were a unified front!
The only problem was that Iowa State didn’t demolish Northwestern. In fact, they lost to a Northwestern team that was missing one of its best players.
This was a bad sign.
True many Floyd and Eustachy teams were terrible in the early part of the season, only to cohese and become a dominant force down the stretch. After all, the Elite Eight team lost to a bad Drake team.
Only one of the warning signs that McDermott was in over his head at ISU was the disturbing fact that his teams did not become better as the season went along. In fact, they seemed to get worse.
Even though my head knew that this highly touted team was going nowhere fast, I think my heart forced my mouth to utter the phrase “wake-up call”. Only this wasn’t a “wake-up call” for them. It was a wake-up call for me.
The season went downhill fast. A loss at home to UNI. Barely beating Iowa’s intramural team. Barely beating Houston. Lucca leaving in the middle of the season. 4 conference wins.
Then moments after the season was over, Brackins goes pro. Buckley and Hamilton transfer. The NCAA punish Iowa State for being Iowa State and doesn’t grant Gilstrap another year of eligibility.
It seemed like there was blood in the water. The only question was how would Pollard come up with 2.5 million dollars to payoff McDermott?
Only instead of dropping the axe on McDermott like he did on Wayne Morgan (despite Wayne Morgan having 3 straight winning seasons) Pollard gave McDermott a vote of confidence.
Then a month went by and it got weird. Two assistant coaches left. Colvin left. Pollard sent out two enigmatic letters. One to a kid telling him that he understood his concerns about the direction of the ISU basketball team, but his records indicated that the kid didn’t donate money to the athletic department, so bugger off. Then another letter where he blamed McDermott’s inability to keep players (including a finalist for Player of the Year honors that played for Syracuse this year – yeah that hurt to watch) not on McDermott, but on this generation of worthless kids. He started the letter by throwing Fennelly under the bus and ended it with some very fuzzy math. He tried to make the argument that kids transferring is an epidemic, but if you actually do the math with the numbers he provides, the average Division 1 school lost .5 kids to transfer in the last two years. Iowa State has lost 6. Now 7 with the transfer of Boozer.
Then Christmas came. Oregon hired Dana Altman. Creighton wanted Greg McDermott to replace him!
Not only was Iowa State not going to continue its long descent into irrelevance, it wasn’t going to cost us 2.5 million to go in a new direction. In fact, Creighton is going to have to pay us $800,000 for the right to take our problem off of our hands.
The only problem was that I wasn’t going to be in the state to hear the news. I was going to be in Minnesota.
However, I’m a problem solver. After I gassed up the car and picked up some needed supplies for the trip (two bottles of water, a bag of beef jerky and two Whatchamacallits) I texted Baier, Jesse and Schmidt and asked them to let me know when it had become official that McDermott was heading to Nebraska! Then I hit the open road.
I arrived in Eagan at about 11:30. Nate was the only one home and awake.
I had assigned Nate the task of finding us interesting places to eat at during my two day stay in Minnesota. He handed me a magazine with reviews of numerous Twin City restaurants. However, he noted that Bethany strongly favored eating at Chino Latino.
I found the review of Chino Latino. The review stated that Chino Latino served guinea pig! I was in.
After deciding on the dining option for that evening we piled into the car and head to Five Guys for lunch. We had a little bit of difficulty finding it, but when we did finally locate it, it was worth it.
Five Guys is a burger joint. The menu is simple and the food is tasty. I will definitely be going back.
They serve fresh cut potato fries. They put them in a cup, but they also fill the bottom of your bag with more fries.
Even though we were stuffed, Nate suggested that we visit a White Castle. I’ve always heard that their food is nasty, but I’ve never eaten at a White Castle and I’ve always wanted to try it.
To give our stomach time to process the goodness of Five Guys we headed from Edina to Apple Valley so that Nate could pickup and deposit his paycheck.
Nate banks where Bethany works, so I got to speak with her briefly. When her co-worker wasn’t butting in to tell me about his brother-in-law that used to play football for Iowa State. Only he can’t remember his name, but he rushed for 438 yards in one game. Some people you just have to let speak.
Next stop White Castle!
Our sojourn to White Castle wasn’t adventurous and nobody would make a movie about it. We each ordered two sliders.
The hype about White Castle was dead-on! The food is absolutely dreadful. I can’t believe this place stays in business.
We took the rest of the day to rest before Chino Latino.
Jesse called and gave me the fantastic news that it was official. Creighton had given our basketball program the gift of a fresh, new beginning!
Nate called Chino Latino and made a reservation, but found out the sad news that in order to get the guinea pig, Cuy, you had to order it 48 hours in advance.
Luckily Jill was sort of able to provide some recommendations to me. Sort of.
Later in the night Bethany came home and we went over to her significant other’s house to meet up before going to Uptown.
While we were waiting for some people to get ready, Bill called to ask if Creighton had really hired McDermott.
“Do they know that he had 4 straight losing seasons at Iowa State despite having the greatest homecourt advantage in the nation?”
“They don’t make them very smart in Nebraska.”
7 of us met up at Chino Latino. Beth, John, Becca, Nate, John’s friend Ben and Bethany’s co-worker “V”.
Chino Latino serves equatorial food. That means that the food comes from countries that are on the equator.
Nate really wants to order Fidel’s Capitalist Pig Roast at some point. Which is a teenage pig, if you are the type of person that needs labels.
The food was excellent. Once I saw the $45 price tag, I didn’t feel so bad about the guinea pig denial.
I rode back to Eagan with Becca so that I could see her new car and the cowboy joint where she currently works.
Near Chino Latino
Day 3 of vacation was an excellent day by almost all tangible measurement.