Moral victoriesNot all they’re cracked up to be

Ryan McGowan said he was impressed. Matt Van Winkle said they looked good in the first half. John Russell said it was a positive sign of where the program is going. Brandon Leibold said they should have won. Despite the optimism of AHS sports enthusiasts, the October 20th game against Oklahoma will go down as just another loss in what has been a dismal season for the Iowa State football team. In their first season under coach Gene Chizik, the Cyclones have gone 1-7, including 0-4 in conference play. But excitement following the closer-than-expected 17-7 loss to the fourth-ranked team in the nation had the feel of a fan base celebrating victory. Which may have been the case, if moral victories count. “Iowa State fans have seen a lot of losing seasons in the past, so when you see a performance like that against a ranked team, you’ve got to be excited,” Van Winkle said. The California native says that, while not a die-hard fan, he does root for the Cyclones. Van Winkle says the Cyclones’ performance against Oklahoma is not anything to be satisfied with, though. “You can definitely take something from a loss,” he said, noting the team’s progress, “but it takes a win to show yourself.” And wins look like they may be hard to come by the rest of the way for Iowa State. The Cyclones followed their loss to Oklahoma by losing to Missouri this past Saturday. Their final three opponents have a combined 18-7 record and include the undefeated Kansas Jayhawks. But don’t tell Cyclone fans to settle for anything less than wins on the field. “No one likes moral victories,” Russell said. Despite the losing record, Russell says there is no reason to panic. “People were expecting too much from this year’s team. It shouldn’t be as much a disappointment as it is because we have a lot of young players.” Although he is no fan of moral victories, Russell looks for weekly progress when watching his Cyclones, even if they continue to lose. “It looks like we have a lot to build on. The defense is pressuring, and the offense produced a little bit.” The inability to produce wins has to be a bit unsettling for ISU fans at this point, though. Improvements and such can be drawn out at length, win or lose, but as Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards famously said, “You play to win the game.” Teams enter competition with the intention of winning—anything less is a let down and failure on their part. To the fiercest competitor, moral victories do not exist. Take, for example, the San Diego Padres. The club finished the 2007 major league baseball season with an 89-73 record, tied with the Colorado Rockies for the National League’s final playoff berth. The tie was settled in a one-game playoff, won 9-8 by the Rockies in 13 innings. So after 163 games the only thing separating the Padres from the playoffs was a single run. One run. Somehow, “well, at least you gave it your best,” does not quite make up for the empty feeling of defeat. Three weeks later, the Rockies had advanced to the World Series, and the Padres were back home playing the final inning of their season over in their mind for the thousandth time. Bottom line: the Padres did not make the playoffs and the Cyclones are still 1-8. Even their most loyal fans cannot dispute that fact. Wait for some wins before anyone gets too excited about this team’s accomplishments. And moral victories don’t count.