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Farley, UNI take one for the team

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  • Farley, UNI take one for the team


    The Northern Iowa football team is taking one on the chin for the rest of the athletics department.

    It has been going on for some time now — the Panthers playing a game just for the money.

    In most any other walk of life, when someone says you only did something for the money, it might not be considered a compliment.

    But what coach Mark Farley and his program are doing each year, playing a Division I team for the money is highly commendable.

    Last week the 2005 game against Iowa in Kinnick Stadium was finalized.

    It will generate a school-record $325,000 for the athletics department and more than a few bumps and bruises for the football team. It will almost certainly generate a loss, too.

    But it's all for the good of the family. None of that money will end up in the football budget.

    Still, Farley isn't complaining — far from it. When he came back to run the program he loves he said, ‘Bring them on.'

    The Panthers were playing teams like Eastern Michigan, Ohio and Boise State for relatively meager amounts.

    He said the Panthers should be playing Big Ten and Big 12 schools for the big bucks, so long as it did not wreck the Panther program.

    By the time UNI gets a check from Iowa for the 2005 game, the Panther football team will have played six Division I opponents for a total of $1.3 million.

    In Pantherland, that's a lot of cash, about the same amount as is raised annually by the Athletic Club.

    On the other hand, it is not as much as Kirk Ferentz makes in a year.

    Without games like that, however, the cash-strapped Panthers athletics program might have a lot fewer programs and athletes right now.

    The only thing that concerns Farley is that playing games like that could prevent his team from reaching its annual goal of making the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs.

    "I think we have to be careful how we schedule the rest of the non-conference games," said the fourth-year coach.

    "Financially, it is a game needed for the athletic department. Yet, from a football standpoint, we have to make sure we take care of our football program and keep the program moving forward."

    Farley knows what it takes to make the playoffs every year.

    "The magic number is 8-3, and every year our goal is to find a way to make it to the playoffs," he said. "We play in a league that right now has four teams in the Top 10. When you start weighing those issues the non-conference schedule becomes pretty critical in managing an 8-3 season."

    Farley won't say it, and might not even think it, but the Panther football team is playing to keep other programs alive.

    Pure and simple, that is what the reality of the situation is.

    What he and athletics director Rick Hartzell have to do is be sure to keep the damage to the football program to a minimum.

    Hartzell has turned down bigger paydays in the past because the games were not good for the football program.

    It's a fine line the program is walking. So far, so good on that front.

    Kevin Evans is the Courier's Executive Sports Editor. Contact him at 291-1469 or e-mail him at [email protected].
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