Iowa State's move to NFC North flying way under radar

by | CBSSports.com Columnist
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A number of sources in and around the Big 12 Conference have confirmed that Iowa State is planning to leave the conference for the NFC North division.

The university does not currently have a president, and athletic director Jamie Pollard would not comment, but multiple sources have confirmed that ISU, concerned about the Longhorn Network and Texas A&M's apparent plan to depart for the Southeastern Conference, have decided to leave rather than be left behind in whatever wreckage remains of the Big 12.

"Iowa State has sort of been an afterthought in all this," one source said on the condition of complete fictionalization, "and they're a little torqued off about it. They never get mentioned as a school that might go anywhere, like they're lucky the Big 12 took them in at all, and they've had it.

Aside from the occasional Insight Bowl victory, Iowa State hasn't had much to celebrate at the college level. (Getty Images)  
Aside from the occasional Insight Bowl victory, Iowa State hasn't had much to celebrate at the college level. (Getty Images)  
"They don't really have a natural rival in the conference, they hate all the big-shot Texas schools for lording their Texas-ness all over everybody, and the Vikings keep getting rumored to go to Los Angeles. They think it's a natural fit."

Iowa State has kept its desires relatively quiet, obscured by its ongoing search for a new president. Outgoing president Gregory Geoffroy has not spoken on the record about the move except to tell a group of donors at a university fundraiser, "What the hell do I care? I'm so out of here that I don't care if the school goes into the NHL, Arena Football or the Girl Scouts. Can I get another Scotch, please?"

Pollard has been known to covet a place in the NFL, "where they throw around money like confetti," he once told a writer from the Des Moines Register. "I mean, the NFL could eat the Big 12 like it was a salad, for God's sake. Who wouldn't want a piece of that action?"

Unlike Texas A&M, the departure of which caused great consternation and handwringing for college experts and pundits across the country, Iowa State's move is not only surprising but seems to meet with the approval of even the staunchest traditionalists.

"Its archrival is Iowa, which mostly beats the hell out of it in the big sports, and isn't even in the same conference," said one expert who asked for anonymity based on the fact that she had lost her wallet earlier in the day. "In fact, the other schools in Iowa are in different conferences, too. Iowa State doesn't really cause a lot of havoc in leaving.

"Not only that," she went on, seemingly endlessly, "Iowa State isn't really a football power. They went to five bowl games in six years under Dan McCarney, but they typically get worked over by the good teams in the Big 12. They'll get worked over in the NFL too, but if you're going to get your brains kicked in, you may as well get paid."

Other sources were surprised the NFL didn't ask about Missouri, Kansas or Kansas State, but the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams objected.

"I'm not sure what the hell they do at the Big 12," Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said. "Seems like they run that thing out of a saloon. People in and out, the door swinging back and forth. But I'm not losing a single season ticket to any of them."

When asked about Iowa State, Hunt said, "Not my dog. Don't care. Just so it isn't Kansas, Kansas State or Missouri. They can have Penn State, or Alabama, or Johns Hopkins, whatever. But no Kansas, Kansas State or Missouri."

As for the NFL, a spokesman for commissioner Roger Goodell had no comment, saying only that he and NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith were playing bocce and having an initial discussion about the 2021 CBA negotiations. Another source close to the commissioner, though, said there was nothing to the report that Iowa State was going to move to Los Angeles and be the second tenant in the planned stadium there.

"But I've learned never to say never," the source added. "I mean, if you're going to make up a rumor, you may as well go all the way."

Meanwhile, reports from Southern Mississippi ...

Ray Ratto is a columnist for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.com.

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