Iowa State Cyclones

It's September, it's college football season ... some places

Iowa State's first opponent has had a brutal August

Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns
Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns

This would have been the day of Kirk Ferentz’s press conference in the lead-up to his Iowa football team’s season-opener Saturday.

That opener was to have been at Kinnick Stadium against Northern Illinois. Then, Maryland. Now, nobody.

Here’s ESPN’s college football triple-header on Saturday: Eastern Kentucky at Marshall, SMU at Texas State, Arkansas State at Memphis. That’s not what the network originally had in mind.

So things are different from state to state, conference to conference. In Iowa, though, things are weird. Iowa City and Ames are national hot spots for the coronavirus. One is pausing all athletic team workouts until after Labor Day and isn’t having fall sports. That’s Iowa. One is slated to play a home football game on Sept. 12 in front of 25,000 fans. That’s Iowa State.

The Cyclones open against Louisiana. That’s the one in Lafayette, from the Sun Belt Conference. The Ragin’ Cajuns are picked to contend for that league’s title.

A pair of recent deaths of 31-year-olds have impacted the Louisiana team.

On Aug. 1, assistant coach D.J. Looney died of a heart attack during a team workout.

On Aug. 21, Lafayette police tasered and later shot and killed Trayford Pellerin as he attempted to enter a gas station. The police said he had a knife.

Last Friday, about 150 Louisiana student-athletes marched against police brutality. The march was organized by the football team’s leadership council and was supported by the coaching staff.

Head coach Billy Napier expressed one regret in hindsight.

“We got to a point in the walk where we headed in the direction where the police department was,” Napier said Monday. “And I didn’t anticipate our team, and they didn’t intend, to stop at that police department.”

“I’ve got the utmost respect and admiration for law enforcement and the job they do, under a very difficult circumstance,” Napier said. “Their job in our country is more difficult than it’s ever been.

“And I think it’s important for our team to know where we stand. It’s important for our community to know where we stand. And as a football organization, we are so thankful for the environment and our safety that our campus, that the Lafayette police department, provide for us.”

It will be interesting to see how his players respond to that.

As I write this, the Iowa State-Texas game in Austin has been moved to Black Friday on ABC or an ESPN network depending on the game’s significance.

Also, President Trump has found time to encourage the Big Ten to play football this fall. Not the Pac-12. Just the Big Ten.

Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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