-- AMES, Iowa -- Some 63 hours after Matt Campbell earned his first Big 12 victory at Iowa State, his Ford Explorer roars into the dark parking lot of the Bergstrom Football Complex.
Campbell hardly slows off the gas, driving a straight line to the parking spot closest to the staff entrance of this four-year-old building detached from the northwest corner of Jack Trice Stadium.
It is 5:15 a.m.
He bounds from the silver metallic SUV into the 32-degree, mid-November air, paying no attention to the brilliant full moon above. Ten minutes later, Campbell sits in his second-floor office, peering at film of the Texas Tech defense.
The 36-year-old father of four, who coached for four-plus seasons at Toledo before the Cyclones tabbed him a year ago, is eager to shed the label of youngest coach in the Power 5.
"I get it," Campbell says, looking up from his desk and the practice schedule under construction on paper, "but age is irrelevant. When I was at Toledo, for a while I was the youngest coach in all college football. You just hoped that somebody recognized you for the work we were doing, what you were building, what kind of coach and program you were."
Iowa State recognized more than a youthful exuberance in Campbell, tasking him with one of the most daunting jobs in the sport. The Cyclones have enjoyed one winning season in the past decade; the last time they won more than seven games was in 2000.
Campbell's Iowa State tenure began with a loss to FCS program Northern Iowa and started 0-6 in Big 12 play, despite leading Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State in the second half. Iowa State came from behind in the fourth quarter to win 31-24 last week at Kansas -- a milestone, for sure, despite an opponent that has lost 19 straight league games.
"It was great to see our resolve," Campbell says. "I definitely think it did something positive in our program. And now, can you do it again?"
The Cyclones celebrated the win with a Sunday meal of steak and shrimp, cake and ice cream. After defeats this year, they ate hamburgers and hot dogs.
On Tuesday, Campbell granted access to ESPN.com for a look at the inner workings of a program in transition. Clearly, a conference win only strengthened the Cyclones' resolve to continue to improve -- and to do it as quickly as possible.
This morning represents a late start for Campbell. Three days a week, he shows up at 4:30 to run and lift a few weights.
"I think it keeps you sane," he says.
It's a 12-minute drive for Campbell from the home he and his wife, Erica, built last spring and summer north of the Iowa State campus. They moved from temporary housing in July, five months after the birth of their second son, Rocco. The Campbell girls are 8 and 6; the boys are 3 and 9 months.
Usually, they all attend practice on Wednesday.
Matt nearly missed the latest birth, flying into Toledo, still exhausted from a harried recruiting season, less than an hour before Erica gave birth.
She is an audiologist but stays home, for now, while Matt works crazy hours.
Campbell left the office after 10 on Monday night, feeling a bit sick. And the coach's stomach has not fully recovered on this morning. He drinks no coffee. For energy, Campbell mixes water with Spark, a powdered multivitamin additive advertised to enhance mental focus.
Campbell is the first of the coaches to arrive.
As he gets settled in the office, it'll be seven hours until Campbell eats a meal. He's a creature of habit, sending director of football operations Greg Brabenec -- "Skip" as he's known in the office -- almost daily to the nearby West Street Deli for a serving of chicken salad.
"The first week I got here, somebody told us about it," Campbell says, "and that's been our go-to spot ever since."
After workouts, Campbell cleans up in the locker room. His office is equipped with a shower, which he says he has never used, inside a spacious restroom that holds his carry-on suitcase and an ISU golf bag, still covered in plastic wrap.
At 6:30 a.m., he ducks into an in-progress meeting. Offensive coordinator Tom Manning, a holdover from Toledo like most of the ISU staff, sits at the head of the table. He controls the tape -- dissecting the Texas Tech defense -- and the mood in the room, which is decidedly low-key.
The lights are dim as Manning's mellow and acoustic mix of songs plays over a wall-mounted speaker. He's more eclectic than Campbell, whose playlist gets plenty of time, too, especially at night; it spans Kenny Rogers, John Prine, Justin Bieber, the Zac Brown Band and Justin Timberlake.
"We go all over the spectrum," Campbell says.
The offensive meeting includes graduate assistant Taylor Mouser and quality control associate Joe Houston. Passing game coordinator Jim Hofher enters before 7 a.m..
The coaches trade banter as they watch tape.
"I got home yesterday and the Christmas tree was up," Manning says, "and it's got lights built in."
Manning sounds genuinely surprised by this before turning his eyes back to the Red Raiders, who visit Ames on Saturday with just one win -- an overtime victory at TCU in Week 9 -- in their past six games.
Soon, the Iowa State coaches watch tape of Ohio State. With deep Ohio roots, the ISU staff regularly studies the Buckeyes, who run a system on offense similar to what Campbell installed in Ames.
The Cyclones target Ohio heavily in recruiting. Campbell grew up in Massillon, south of Cleveland. In particular, Campbell says, he's "enthralled" by the heritage of Ohio natives Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops, and Nick Saban, whose career began in the state.
"They're huge role models," Campbell says, "guys who have such laser vision and focus to sustain success, to recruit consistently and then to develop their guys and demand that they play at a high level."
Curtis Samuel flashes on the screen. No one on the Iowa State roster resembles the Ohio State back.
"Is he an Ohio guy?" asks a coach in the room.
No. Another coach suggests that Samuel, a four-star signee in 2014, came from Florida. Actually, he's from Brooklyn, New York.
Campbell moves into a special-teams meeting at 7 a.m. He sits at the head of the table, with associate head coach and running game coordinator Louis Ayeni to his right. Bryan Gasser, who coaches receivers and special teams, runs the meeting. Linebackers coach Tyson Veidt is also here.
The head coach stays mostly quiet, speaking up when the subject turns to weather. The forecast is more typical November for Saturday in Ames -- cold and windy. The more wind, the better for Iowa State, the coaches suggest.
Just before 8 a.m., the entire staff convenes in the same room for their daily rundown. The meeting starts with a medical report. They discuss Tuesday practice before the conversation turns to recruiting.
This weekend is "huge," says Campbell, with several official visits planned. One of the scheduled visitors, announces a coach, attended Iowa's upset win Saturday night over Michigan. No one responds to this.
By Campbell's left sits Veidt, who is handing scraps of paper to a recruiting assistant as the coaches watch film of prospects under consideration for scholarship offers. Iowa State has accepted approximately 20 commitments for its 2017 class, so space is limited.
They view film of a tenacious offensive lineman. Conversation ensues about his reputed height -- and the height of a basketball hoop on which Campbell saw the prospect dunk on video. It might have been 8 feet, suggests one coach.
"The point there," Campbell says after the staff meeting, "is for everybody in that room to know exactly what we're looking for."
Before 9 a.m., Campbell exits his third meeting of the day. He stops quickly in his office before the next session to talk more offensive strategy.
His stomach is feeling better. Chicken salad awaits in three hours.
Another long day beckons.