Iowa State University is well known for their technology programs and research, producing some of the world’s leading theorists, writers, and even astronauts, but what of their sports programs? The Cyclones of Iowa State compete in the Big 12 Conference of the NCAA’s 1st Division, a conference generally recognized to be one of the weaker ones in the NCAA, and it’s safe to say their sports program doesn’t have quite the lustre that their academic pursuits do. In fact their men’s baseball and swimming teams recently got shelved due to budget constraints, leaving the school with just 6 men’s teams, while still fielding 10 women’s teams. Many other team sports do still exist at a club sport level, including men’s baseball, hockey, and swimming, though they don’t enjoy the benefit of NCAA Division 1 competition or exposure.
The Cyclones nickname first came about in 1895, after Iowa State routed Northwestern 36-0, to which a Chicago Tribune reporter remarked that Northwestern would’ve had more success playing against a tornado. Iowa State immediately adopted the name, which was also fitting given the area’s propensity for tornadoes, and created Cy the Cardinal to be their mascot. Their logo has undergone several revisions, with the most recent version of a graphically intensive and busy logo of a half-cardinal, half-tornado, a style of logo popular in the 1990’s, being scrapped in favour of a more distinguished logo featuring a capital I superimposed over the word State, in a new font type the school is calling cyclone.
During a men’s football game at Jack Trice Stadium in 2005, Cy the Cardinal famously took a backseat as the team’s mascot when a real tornado touched down in Ames, Iowa, very near to the stadium. Fans were evacuated to the parking lot or the nearby Hilton Coliseum until the danger had passed. Iowa State would use that as motivation is the game, as they would upset the favoured Colorado Buffaloes 30-16.
Iowa State competes against Kansas State, the University of Colorado, the University of Kansas, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska, Baylor University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Texas. Iowa has won 14 conference championships over the years, but none in more than a dozen years, as the school has slashed funding to its sports programs.
Iowa State has few major rivalries, with the most notable being their clashes with the University of Iowa, in which the Cy-Hawk Trophy is put up for grabs. The trophy features both schools mascots, Cy the Cardinal, and Herky the Kawkeye, emblazoned on the front of the trophy, with a football player running with a ball atop it, much like the Heisman Trophy.
One sport where Iowa State receives national attention is their wrestling program, which has won 8 national titles, and produced a number of world class wrestlers and Olympians. Most recently, Cael Sanderson, the current head coach of the Iowa State wrestling program, won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens following a four year collegiate wrestling stint in which he went undefeated with a record of 159-0. Cael has led the current program to three straight conference titles, and a 2nd place finish nationally in 2007.
Writer and editor, Freddie Brister, is a former high school football coach of 25 years. His love of the game of football is reflected in his words and memories of growing up in the South and playing football in the back yard with his brother, cousins and neighborhood friends. His biggest thrill is watching former high school players he has coached play at the college level. His favorite pastime is watching college football on tv and attending the games in person every chance he gets. Freddie Brister is ah big fan of Iowa State and college football. Check out his Iowa State Gear or his Iowa State Collectibles.
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