Cabin fever can often hit this time of year, but instead a severe case of purple fever centered in eastern Iowa has hit the state. The University of Northern Iowa football team opens the playoffs undefeated and top ranked, and UNI has instituted "Panther Purple Pride Day" today.
Stacey Christensen of the school’s marketing and public relations department says everyone is getting caught up in the movement. She says the Cedar Valley and the entire state is getting caught up in the success of the football team and they wanted to have everyone show that support by putting on purple. Christensen says many people already have the purple gear to show their support.
"If you look around to the retail stores, you’ll see purple everywhere," Christensen says, "and even in some of the restaurants and some the establishments here in the Cedar Valley, some of the wait staff have game day shirts that they’ve printed for all their wait staff, it’s an exciting time."
She says the excitement of having an Iowa team in the playoffs has spread beyond Cedar Falls. The Iowa State football team didn’t qualify for a bowl game and the chances for Iowa look slim. Christensen says the situation is similar to a few years ago when UNI was the only school to get a team in the NCAA basketball tournament — and people across the state jumped on the bandwagon.
Christensen says, "You would be surprised at the Hawkeye and Cyclone fans that are showing their Panther support and really cheering for us, and that really feels good." The Panther football team opens the playoffs against New Hampshire on Saturday night at 6:30.