The Mount Rushmore of UNI could be tough for a dude who covered the team for five years after going to school for five years and bought season tickets the first year in McLeod, despite living in Des Moines. (We bought last row because we stood the entire game. My knees were younger back then.) But… Mount Rushmore should be the people that everyone would recognize, not just big time fans. UNI does have a US Senator alumnus, Charles Grassley, and even an AFC Defensive MVP in Bryce Paup. But those guys don’t make the list. The four guys I have listed are mostly recent, but then again, UNI has been in the national spotlight only recently. I’d LOVE to put Seth Tuttle on the list, but he just missed out. Gary Rima is the VOICE of the Panthers. He was number five. I think he’d be fine with the Top 4 chosen.
No brainer here. Despite not actually playing a ton at UNI, Kurt has been the face of UNI to 90% of Americans since he made it big as the quarterback for the Greatest Show on Turf. We love underdogs and a guy working at Hy-Vee who wins a Super Bowl is one of the best underdog stories of all time. Kurt has publicly been highly supportive of UNI basketball and Ben Jacobson, especially for the past few seasons.
He is the face of UNI basketball. Greg McDermott may have put UNI on the map, but Ben has kept them there. He’s always rumored to be going to a “better job” by people who don’t know much about him or UNI. He’s led UNI to its first ever Sweet 16 and Top 10 rankings. Just like Kurt Warner, he’s a character guy and role model on the court and off it as well. Coach K once said he wished he could get his guys to play defense like Ben gets his guys to play. A few of his former players are now coaches. Expect that to continue. There will be a Ben Jacobson coaching tree some day.
Hi, fantasy football players. You like this guy? David was offered two scholarships—one by Illinois State to play linebacker and the other by UNI to play wide receiver and maybe running back. Iowa wanted him to walk on. Considering the Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God from a few years ago, it’s good David went elsewhere. He is now a household name in the NFL. Beast on the field, nice guy off the field. Honestly, in my five years covering UNI, this dude was probably the nicest. Marc Sonnen would be a close second. If David stays healthy, he could be a Hall of Famer. Heck, his cleats went to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after his third career game.
The shot. One of the greatest upsets in March Madness history. A shot that he had absolutely no business taking, but he did. UNI knocked off #1 Kansas with that shot. Dude was an assassin. He hit a three from the D at mid-court at Drake one year. He had 1.5 seconds to catch, set his feet, and shoot, and he drained it. A former assistant at Nebrasketball, he’s now at Drake and at home in the Valley. There is no bigger moment in UNI history than his shot against Kansas.