JOHNSTON — The Cyclone-Hawkeye rivalry is a great one for the universities, the athletes and the fans, according to the athletic directors at the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.
They say the only challenge to the series would be format changes by their respective conferences.
“It’s great for college athletics to have rivalries,” Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta said Friday. The schools have a long-term agreement to compete in football and “ongoing intent” to face-off in basketball. Conferences changes are the “only thing I would foresee that would change it while I’m there.”
Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard agreed it’s “a great day when Iowa and Iowa State play.” The Cy-Hawk trophy fight will continue unless something changed in the Big 12 or the Big 10 that limited the number of non-conference games.
If that happened, Pollard said, “We’d have to have a really tough discussion because it is bigger than Gary and Jamie, far bigger than us.”
The athletic directors made their comments during taping of Iowa Press, which aired Friday night on Iowa Public Television.
Iowa State has created a schedule that includes the University of Northern Iowa Panther football team every other year, Pollard said.
“They also have a really good program,” he said. “Some would argue that maybe too good, that that’s not what you're looking for in that game.”
For Iowa, Big 10 scheduling and its goal of winning a Big 10 championship has made it difficult to include Northern Iowa.
“We didn’t want to eliminate it,” Barta said. “It is good for the state, it’s good for the fans.”
Barta and Pollard don’t foresee more conference changes of the kind that expanded the Big 10 to 14 universities and shrunk the Big 12 to 10.
“I'm not going to say it's not going to happen,” Pollard said, but not to the extent seen in recent years when “that was the discussion every single day.” He expects there will be movement among non-Bowl Championship Series schools, but not in the five major conferences.
Although re-alignment has not always been popular with fans, Barta thinks expansion has been good for the Big 10, including the move into a “corridor of 60 million people” with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers. That offers the possibility of more television revenue, he said.
There’s an upside for fans, too, he said.
“It made us redistribute our divisions, and so now every year, our fans are going to see us play Wisconsin, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern,” Barta said. “So more good than bad. We have yet to see where the negatives are.”
Iowa Press also can be seen at noon Sunday on IPTV, 8:30 Saturday on IPTV World and is available at www.iptv.org.