Before we get started, I already know you are going to say one of two things, one of which is correct, and one which is incorrect.
- Iowa State, as a Power 5 school, should never, ever lose to UNI or any other FCS program, including North Dakota State.
- UNI iS oNe oF tHe BeSt FcS pRoGrAmS iN tHe CoUnTrY aNd UpSeTs HaPpEn AlL tHe TiMe
No. Stop it. Yes, I understand that Northern Iowa is historically one of the best 1AA/FCS programs in NCAA history (11th most wins, 15th best winning percentage) and has produced some NFL talent, including NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner and current Cardinals RB David Johnson (we’ll get to him later).
All that said, Iowa State, as a Power 5 school, has absolutely no excuse for losing to a program which ranges between somewhat less talented in Iowa State’s worst seasons, and not even in the same universe in Iowa State’s best seasons. Under only the most extreme circumstances should Iowa State ever be in a close (one touchdown or less) game with UNI. Unfortunately, Iowa State’s 21-6-3 all-time record against UNI shows just how bad Iowa State has been in previous seasons.
In 2013, the UNI Panthers, led by David Johnson’s 199 rushing yards, came into Jack Trice Stadium and beat Iowa State 28-20 to kick off what would end up as a terrible 3-9 season (SPOILER ALERT: this won’t be the last time the 2013 season shows up in this series). The loss is bad, giving up 199 yards to an FCS running back is bad (though, I suppose you can console yourself with the fact that the running back was David Johnson). However, none of these facts are the worst part about this game. What’s the worst part about all of this, you say?
Iowa State could have landed David Johnson out of high school.....IF THEY HAD SPELLED HIS NAME RIGHT IN HIS RECRUITING LETTERS.
In an interview with USA Today, Johnson revealed what his experience with being recruited by Paul Rhoads and the rest of the staff went:
In a coaching tenure that featured an actual loss to UNI (amongst many more losses), arguably Paul Rhoads’ biggest loss to UNI isn’t just not landing David Johnson, who most people now consider to be one of the 3-5 best running backs in the NFL, when they had virtually no other competition, but not even getting his name right in recruiting letters. Seriously. How does that even happen? I suppose it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that a coaching staff which absolutely refused to adopt a social media presence or make any effort to keep up with modern recruiting strategies would fail to take 10 extra seconds to make sure they at least spelled a recruit’s name correctly.
The 2016 loss to UNI in Matt Campbell’s first game came as a shock, though we weren’t able to see until later that the game was an illustration of just how bad of shape the program was in when he took over. Looking back, that loss, combined with the blowout loss at Iowa, were probably first little push the players needed to own and trust “The Process,” so it’s difficult to look back on that game as a complete waste. Would we have liked to see Matt Campbell get a win in his first game? Absolutely. Would the program be where it is today if the players hadn’t experienced that disappointment and begun to take ownership of the program? Difficult to say.