The Cy-Hawk Series was Renewed Because the Cy-Hawk Series Will Never Die

By RossWB on April 18, 2017 at 6:26 pm
Get used to this trophy.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports


Because it's the offseason and we're contractually obligated to beat dead horses into the finest glue and talk about the same five or six stories -- or "stories" -- every year, the Hawkeye and Cyclone portions of the interwebs have been talking about the Cy-Hawk Series. That's the annual football series between the two in-state rivals, if you're not hip to the lingo of the kids today. This year's Cy-Hawk discussion was seemingly triggered by Iowa's announcement that they would be filling out their 2019 non-conference with a game against Middle Tennessee State. That meager bit of news led to much hand-wringing about the state of Iowa's non-conference schedules in general, which led to griping about Iowa playing Iowa State every year in the non-conference. 

It's a fairly pointless and tiresome debate because Iowa has played Iowa State every year dating back to 1977 and there's no sign of that changing anytime soon. That was reinforced by today's "news:" 

BREAKING: Iowa is going to play Iowa State in the future, just as they've done for the last 40 years. No matter how much people gripe online about the series, it's going to continue. It doesn't matter if the game is a "no win" situation for Iowa. (It is.) It doesn't matter if the game makes it harder for Iowa State to reach six wins and bowl eligibility. (It does.) This game will outlive us all, or at least last until college football and/or the entire collegiate sports enterprise collapses under the weight of its own insanity. 

The fact that the series was only extended two more years (from 2021 to 2023) is slightly unusual and it prompted a thought from at least one observer that perhaps change is on the horizon: 

The logic behind that idea is that with nearly every major conference's TV deal expiring in 2024, that's when there will again be an opportunity for realignment frenzy to take hold and for leagues to reshape themselves. Where that could impact the Cy-Hawk Series is if the Big 12 breaks apart during that realignment frenzy and Iowa State isn't able to land in another Power 5 conference. That is likely the only way that the Cy-Hawk Series would end in its current format of split home and away games. So long as Iowa State remains in a Power 5-caliber league, the status quo of the Cy-Hawk Series is extremely unlikely to ever change. But if Iowa State is no longer in a Power 5-caliber league that's a significant change to the dynamic. Then Iowa no longer gets the benefit of playing a Power 5 team in the non-conference schedule (however meager it might be in the case of Iowa State). An Iowa State that's in a MAC-caliber league probably gets treated the same way Iowa treats other MAC-caliber opponents (i.e., playing them almost exclusively in Iowa City). 

So, sure, if the Big 12 crumbles, the future of the Cy-Hawk Series gets a whole lot murkier. But I'm not sure I'd hold my breath on that front. The Big 12 has come close to cracking up more than a few times in recent years and it's managed to continue to survive, in no small part because it's cheaper for organizations like FOX and ESPN to maintain the status quo than to let the Big 12 dissolve and for them to pay more to the new super-conferences that would form in the wake of the Big 12's destruction. If that dynamic is still true when contracts are being renegotiated 5-6 years from now, the Big 12 will probably find a way to persist, which means the Cy-Hawk Series will also keep right on trucking.

Cockroaches, Twinkies, and the Cy-Hawk Series: things that will outlast us all. 

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