The Iowa Legislature today honored the University of Northern Iowa for their runner-up finish in division one-double-A football last season. U-N-I football coach Mark Farley used the occasion to thank the state of Iowa for rallying around the team as it made its march through the playoffs to the championship game.
“We really believe in what we do,” Farley says. “It became Iowa’s team and that was probably the most fun of the whole experience was how everything rallied together for the purple and gold.” The Iowa House and Senate each passed resolutions honoring the team for this past season, as well as the program’s long history of success — the 12 trips to the playoffs.
“This is quite an honor for our school and for our football program,” Farley says. “This is my first trip to the capitol and it’s going to be one to remember.” Farley brought along the team captains and introduced them to legislators. “These were our captains as well as (a) great representation of our university and our state when we left this state,” Farley says. “I couldn’t be more proud to have them here today with me to be honored in this way.”
After the ceremony, Farley was asked by a reporter if he’s been contacted by Jason Berryman, the Iowa State defensive standout who was kicked off the Cyclone team last week. “Oh, no. No, ma’am,” Farley responded. “Would he be welcome?” the reporter asked. Farley replied: “I’m not even going to go there today.”
Berryman was reinstated on the Iowa State football team last fall after he’d served time in prison for theft but his coach said Berryman’s recent ticket for being in a bar when he was not yet 21 was the last straw. After Bennie Sapp was kicked off the University of Iowa football team in 2001, he enrolled at U-N-I and played for the Panthers. Sapp is now playing in N-F-L for the Kansas City Chiefs.