AMES — Deshaunte Jones struck for a lightning-quick touchdown Saturday night.
Unfortuantely, it won’t count — as real lightning split the sky around Jack Trice Stadium repeatedly and for hours on what was supposed to be Iowa State’s 2018 season opener against South Dakota State, forcing the event’s cancellation.
So Jones’s apparent 55-yard touchdown catch and run from Kyle Kempt? Wiped from the ISU annals.
The Cyclones 7-0 lead four minutes and five seconds into the non-game?
Gone, too, of course.
Only two things truly “counted” during this TKO by Mother Nature: ISU’s seven suspended players will be deemed to have served their respective penalties despite the game not being official, and the Jackrabbits will still pocket the full $425,000 they were guaranteed for traveling to Ames.
As far as the suspensions are concerned — most notably starting STAR De’Monte Ruth and starting left tackle Julian Good-Jones, Cyclones Athletics Director Jamie Pollard quickly offered his answer to that anticipated question.
“I know some people will probably ask about the players that were suspended. I’ve already talked to ISU president (Wendy) Wintersteen and to Faculty Athletics Director Tim Day and we’re all in agreement that the suspensions were served tonight because the game — it’s not the student-athletes’ fault that the game couldn’t be in for weather.”
The Cyclones play at 4 p.m. next Saturday — in what’s now the season-opener, obviously — at Iowa.
Pollard said representatives from both ISU and South Dakota State “briefly” talked about possibly resuming or simply replaying the game tomorrow, but numerous logistical concerns made that difficult to impossible.
“At the end of the night, both coaches just kind of felt like throwing off the next week’s preparation, also looking at the forecast, it looks like it’s going to be miserable for the next five to six days, so — matter of fact, I just got a phone call from the Akron athletics director because they’re debating whether they could play the Nebraska-Akron game tomorrow and there’s no hotels in Lincoln. So Akron has no place to stay. So they were unsure they could even play. We hadn’t even thought about — had we got to that spot, that would have been a question for South Dakota State: Is there a place you can even stay tonight? And is that fair to their players, because you’re asking them to come back and play with, you know, where they don’t get the normal preparation, so we did briefly just debate it and then said that wasn’t the right answer.”
Instead, Pollard said, ISU may look to schedule another FCS team for the Cyclones’ scheduled bye weekend, on Oct. 20, or on the Big 12 championship weekend in early December — if the situation warrants such a move.
“For us, our bye week is Oct. 20, my guess is — Nebraska and Akron cancelled their game tonight, so I’m going to guess there is a whole host of FCS opponents around the Midwest are in the same boat we’re in,” Pollard said. “We’ll have ample time to work on that over the next several weeks to possibly schedule someone else to be here on the Oct. 20 weekend. Coach (Matt) Campbell and I have talked about that and we’re in agreement that we would use that bye week if we could to do that. If we can’t find somebody and we’re in a position where we needed a sixth win for a bowl game, then we always have the ability to possibly play on championship weekend.”
That’s a worst-case scenario proposition — just as Saturday night’s raging thunderstorms created in Ames.
Pollard lauded the fan turnout for the event and called the lack of an outcome “very disappointing” on several levels.
“First and foremost, It’s very disappointing that Mother Nature controlled the outcome of how today’s game is going to end. But at the end of the day, player safety is of utmost importance. After talking with coach Campbell and their head football coach, both coaches agreed that, given what we saw on the radar, staying and prolonging the inevitable wasn’t in the best interest of either team. What I don’t want to get lost in tonight’s events is our crowd was absolutely awesome. That student section may have been the best student section in my 14 years for a first game. That shows the excitement and the anticipation we have for Cyclone football this year. Despite how we feel right now, we still have plenty of weeks ahead of us that will be really exciting.”