CEDAR FALLS — If tickets were to be sold, they could be tougher to get than Hamilton on Broadway.
Saturday night in the Farley home after a Northern Iowa football win or loss could potentially be the greatest show that nobody has ever seen.
There is the head coach — Mark. There is the ex-Panther, Jake Farley, and there is the star linebacker, the youngest Farley of them all, Jared.
“They get after it after games,” says Jamie Farley, UNI football’s director of operations, as she, the daughter and sister, and mom, Lori, are the only regulars in the crowd. “They don’t take it easy on each other, either.
“I also think it is very productive for them.”
Saturday, Jared, will be one of 15 UNI seniors to play in his final regular-season home game when the Panthers host Indiana State at 4 p.m. He’s the last of the three Farley men to wear the Purple and Gold — Mark (1983-86), Jake (2012-14) and Jared (2014-17).
“They make sure I know what I did wrong and what I did right,” laughed Jared. “Jake loves getting on me, he’s probably harder on me than dad ... coach.
“It’s all good. They are both just trying to make me the best player I can be.”
Mark Farley says those behind the closed door sessions are special to him and very unique.
“I’m just thrilled they allowed me to be part of the ride,” he said. “It’s been phenomenal. I had no idea this experience would be so fun, memorable.”
Before Farley ever coached one of his sons in the Purple and Gold, he had some reservations.
Jake began his career at Kansas before transferring to UNI. Before Jake made the move back to Cedar Falls, Mark reached out to other fellow coaches who had their sons on their teams.
“I was very pessimistic about it,” Farley said. “I did not know ... all I could think about was the things that could go wrong and you don’t think about the things that could go right. You are trying to make sure, number one, that they have a great experience.
“It was probably harder for them to have a great experience than it was for me because they had to be the guy that was the coaches’ son. “
Jared, a 2017 preseason FCS all-American, and has started his last 33 games, and played in 45 total games in a UNI uniform. He has saved his best play for his last season, entering the season finale with 107 tackles, a career high, along with an interception and two fumble recoveries.
“Watching him on the field, his understanding of the game and how he fits within the system of our defense,” Mark Farley said. “He is so instinctive, and understands where he needs to be instinctively as much as mentally.”
Jared says he wouldn’t change the decision to play for his dad.
“It’s been awesome,” Jared said. “I could not have asked for a better experience. I have been a UNI fan since I was in kindergarten, so it was nothing new to be a Panther. Being part of this program, it has been my life, it has been absolutely everything playing for him.”
While being described as the more reserved of the two brothers, Jared shares the same inner fire and competitiveness that Jake showed on the field and Mark did during his playing days for UNI.
That competitiveness and drive to win was developed long before Jared ever stepped foot on the UNI-Dome turf, it was developed in the Farley basement.
“Whether it was playing Xbox, ping-pong, pool, whatever it was we were at each other’s necks,” Jared recalled of he and Jake’s basement battles. “He would get the best of me most of the time because he had four years on me, but I’d get him once and a while. We definitely go after it, punches were thrown and stuff. “
“I could tell you stories,” adds Mark. “It wasn’t that they broke stuff, they just were always attacking each other. Trying to keep them apart, if one lost, the winner teased the loser, and then it was mayhem. They just couldn’t leave it at a handshake.”
The wars were not just two-person battles, either. Jamie, a two-time all-Iowa Conference volleyball player for Wartburg College, was usually in the fray.
“She tried to hang with, but as we got bigger and stronger ... she’d still get after us and pick fights and all that stuff,” quipped Jared.
“They definitely toughened me up, didn’t take it easy on me,” smiled Jamie.
Having coached his two sons, and having his daughter on staff, Mark Farley says he is much appreciative of Northern Iowa for allowing that to happen.
“That is what I got to be most thankful for,” Mark said.
Jared hopes he and his dad can share a few more moments on the playing field beyond Saturday’s game where a victory most likely will secure a FCS Playoff berth and potential home game for the 24th-ranked Panthers (6-4 overall, 5-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference).
But if it were to be the last time they walk onto the UNI-Dome turf together, Jared says it has been a memorable trip.
“There are a couple (memories),” Jared said. “My first play ... it was either Northern Colorado or Tennessee Tech and we were up by a lot. I thought I was red-shirting, but he comes over to me and says, ‘you’re going in.’ I looked back at him and said, ‘you’re really going to blow my red-shirt for this, we’re up 35-0.’ That was memorable.
“The interception to seal the game last year at Iowa State. I think he (Mark) broke the career-record for wins with the win, and to seal the win with the pick was one of the more memorable moments for sure, and him getting the game ball afterward ... that was special.”