Big 12: Brent Curvey
McCarney led the Cyclones to five bowl trips in the first six seasons of the decade. That record was as good as any team's in the North Division to that point.
Things didn't go as swimmingly for the Cyclones for the second half of the decade, although Rhoads' gutty underachievers were one of the biggest surprises in college football in 2009.
Here's a look at my all-decade team for Iowa State.
QB: Seneca Wallace
RB: Alexander Robinson
RB: Ennis Haywood
WR: Todd Blythe
WR: Lane Danielson
TE: Mike Banks
OL: Reggie Stephens
OL: Cale Stubbe
OL: Bob Montgomery
OL: Aaron Brant
C: Ben Bruns
DL: Nick Leaders
DL: Brent Curvey
DL: Jordan Carstens
DL: Reggie Haywood
LB: Alvin Bowen
LB: Tim Dobbins
LB: Jesse Smith
DB: LaMarcus Hicks
DB: Ellis Hobbs
DB: JaMaine Billups
DB: Leonard Johnson
P: Tony Yelk
K: Adam Benike
Offensive player of the decade: QB Seneca Wallace. Fans remember his serpentine touchdown run against Texas Tech in 2002, but he also led the Cyclones to back-to-back bowl trips while setting the single-season school records for passing and total offense.
Defensive player of the decade: LB Alvin Bowen. A two-time team most valuable player, Bowen produced 155 tackles as a senior in 2006 to become All-Big 12 linebacker and one of the most productive players in ISU history.
Coach of the decade: Dan McCarney. When he was fired after the 2006 season, he had more wins, more bowl trips and more bowl victories than any coach in the school's history. And if he had a more consistent field goal kicker, McCarney might have won that elusive North Division championship that the Cyclones are still looking for.
Moment of the decade: Iowa State’s 37-29 victory over Pittsburgh in the 2000 Insight.com Bowl. Sage Rosenfels passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cyclones to their first bowl victory in school history. It capped a 9-3 season that was the most victories by a Cyclone team since 1906.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Big 12's short history has been dotted by key performers with a knack for making the big plays. Here are 10 of the most notable. I'd be curious to know if anybody has any other thoughts as well.
* Texas QB Major Applewhite (1998-2001) His mettle was shown in his freshman season when he led a comeback at Nebraska, snapping the Cornhuskers' 47-game home winning streak. And he wrapped up his career by leading Texas back from a 19-point deficit late in the third quarter in a comeback triumph over Washington in the Holiday Bowl in his final game.
* Kansas State QB Jonathan Beasley (1996-2000) Not nearly as flashy as his predecessor, Michael Bishop, but Beasley just had a knack for producing in key situations. He became the only quarterback in school history to lead the Wildcats to back-to-back bowl victories, but he's more remembered for leading the Wildcats for a game-winning touchdown in a driving snowstorm against Nebraska to clinch the 2000 North title.
* Colorado K Mason Crosby (2003-06) The most consistent clutch kicker in Big 12 history made 12 of 13 field goals in the fourth quarter, including a perfect 10 of 10 in the final 8 1/2 minutes of a game.
* Nebraska QB Eric Crouch (1998-2001) Big 12's career rushing leader among quarterbacks wrapped up the 2001 Heisman Trophy with dramatic 63-yard throwback pass from Mike Stuntz against Oklahoma, taking the Cornhuskers to the national championship game. But his 95-yard TD run against Missouri -- longest in league history by a quarterback -- showed some moxie.
* Iowa State NT Brent Curvey (2003-2006) Massive 295-pounder was one of the best run-stuffers of his era. But he also earned the nickname of "Big Play Curvey" with three career touchdown returns, including a dramatic 66-yard interception return as a senior that wrapped up a victory over Colorado in 2005.
* Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell (2006-present) Has a knack for bowl comebacks, leading the Red Raiders back from double-digit fourth-quarter deficits in the last two seasons. Included was a 24-point fourth-quarter comeback against Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl.
* Texas A&M RB Sirr Parker (1995-98) Although hampered by injuries most of his senior season, he delivered a performance for the ages in the 1998 championship, scoring on a game-winning 32-yard TD pass from Branndon Stewart in overtime after earlier scoring a TD and a two-point conversion to tie the score in regulation.
* Missouri QB Brad Smith (2002-05) Started early by leading comebacks from his freshman season. He finished with his biggest clutch performance, directing the Tigers back from an early 21-0 lead in a 38-31 victory over South Carolina in the 2005 Independence Bowl.
* Oklahoma S Roy Williams (1999-2001) His leaping blitz helped cause an interception of Chris Simms that was returned for a touchdown by Teddy Lehman, sealing a dramatic victory over Texas in 2001. But he had a repeated flair for key plays throughout his career, helping earn him the nickname "Superman" while playing for the Sooners.
* Texas QB Vince Young (2003-05) Arguably the best clutch player in recent college football history, he had a knack for making big plays at key moments. He tormented Oklahoma State with comebacks, made Mark Mangino erupt after a fourth-quarter scramble and saved his best for last with a performance for the ages beating USC for the national title.
BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
Final North Dakota State 34 Iowa State 14 Final West Virginia 23 2 Alabama 33 Final Louisiana Tech 16 4 Oklahoma 48 Final Samford 14 TCU 48 Final Central Arkansas 35 Texas Tech 42 Final Stephen F. Austin 16 20 Kansas State 55 Final North Texas 7 Texas 38 Final 1 Florida State 37 Oklahoma State 31