Peterson: Protect our state's annual Cy-Hawk game from college football's chaos
AMES, Ia. — Are you kidding me?
We might lose the Cy-Hawk game every fall because college football can't get along? Because Iowa is forced to play North Carolina State or some other team in the new Alliance? Because Iowa State has to play Cincinnati or some other Big 12 newbie?
ESPN's not bringing College GameDay to Ames or Iowa City for one of those games. But they're coming back for the second time in three years for the Cy-Hawk game.
So let's hope the emotionless business of college sports spares this great annual game between Iowa's big-conference programs. Sadly, reality is it’s certainly possible the fallout of college football's upheaval will result in the loss of an annual contest.
That's unfortunate. Because, let's be honest: Who isn’t having fun this week in Iowa ahead of Saturday's Cy-Hawk battle between No. 10 Iowa State and No. 12 Iowa?
College GameDay is coming.
ABC is bringing national exposure to both programs.
Every office is buzzing about this game. Kids in schools from Sabula to Sioux City will dress up in Iowa State or Iowa clothes to show off their family's allegiances.
This game must be protected — before our government officials need to step in when the game’s contract expires in 2025.
- What Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said in his Cy-Hawk press conference
- Key takeaways from Iowa State coach Matt Campbell's Cy-Hawk press conference
Yeah, it’d be a shame if we’re experiencing the end of our greatest State of Iowa sports rivalry. September in Iowa isn't the same without it.
I can’t even imagine Iowa State and Iowa not playing an annual game for any reason other than a pandemic or a national disaster. It’d be like doing away with the Iowa State Fair.
But, yes, that sad day could come.
With our college sports world is in a major state of chaos, the only certainty is there’s no certainty. That includes Saturday’s game possibly being among the final regularly scheduled Cy-Hawk games we’ll see.
With the Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 forming a scheduling "Alliance," what does that mean for Cy vs. Hawk?
That’s as uncertain as how the Big 12 divides itself after BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF eventually become members.
"The Cy-Hawk game is Iowa’s Super Bowl and showcases who we are as a state," Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds said in an email to The Register Tuesday. "From the tailgate experience to kickoff, this is going to be a game for the record books.
"I’m thrilled that ESPN’s College GameDay chose to come back to Ames and show the country how we do College Football in Iowa. You can bet I’ll be attending this weekend!"
For many, it is the State of Iowa's Super Bowl. Die-hards may argue that there are more important games for each program each season. Iowa State vs. Oklahoma or Iowa vs. Wisconsin — I totally get that.
But to the people of Iowa, not just the fans of one school or the other, you think those are more important?
And this week will be more hyped than it's ever been before.
Saturday is the first time both have been ranked at the time of the game, and with the national attention both programs are drawing these days, the state of Iowa is the center of the college football universe this week.
So my plea: Please don’t erase this annual game from the Iowa State and Iowa football schedules when the current contract expires after Sept. 6, 2025.
"The Iowa-Iowa State Cy-Hawk matchup is good for our state, good for college football and college athletics," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said a couple weeks ago. "That being said, I can't predict the future …
"I think it's fair to say we have to wait and see what happens to the Big 12, and all of college sports in terms of conference alignment. Does anybody else expand or retract? What decisions will the Big 12 make? What other decisions will other conferences make?
"I think it is fair to say that we're going to wait and see."
Fair enough. Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard or Barta can't predict the future. I can appreciate this is all very complicated. But let's ensure one part of the present remains a part of the future. And that's an annual football game between Iowa and Iowa State.
I went to Cyclones center Colin Newell about this. An Ames High School graduate, I wondered what Cy vs. Hawk meant to him?
"You hope it’s always there," he said. "I remember how much fun it was when we were kids. Some people at school wore Iowa State stuff and others wore Iowa stuff."
And this from Ohioan Mike Rose, now Iowa State's star linebacker:
"It’s definitely got national attention," he said. "It’s a testament to the great jobs both programs are doing. I think it’s really important to keep this game going. It’s really good for the state."
And speaking of a prominent Ohioan living in our state, here’s Iowa State coach Matt Campbell’s thoughts:
"Man, as I’ve come to be a part of this game, it’s really special, and it’s special for this state and for both universities," Campbell said. "Even when you talk about playing in the UNI game — it’s what makes this state really unique.
"The families care. They have great respect for the universities. It’s meaningful when they get an opportunity to play against each other."
To the decision-makers of college sports: Are we really so business-focused that we forget who buys the tickets to games? Who crowds into the bars and restaurants to watch the games you schedule?
Think about businesses when the Cy-Hawk game visits Ames and Iowa City. Think about how much fans embrace this game.
Think about how it’s even become a national game that's brings ESPN into college towns in Iowa.
"Not having a Cy-Hawk game –— that would suck," Iowa State star running Breece Hall said.
Yes, Breece, it would.