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Spotlight shines on Northern Iowa again at the ESPYs

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Ali Farokhmanesh and Northern Iowa earned another big victory on Wednesday night, but this time it was no upset.

The Panthers took home the trophy for "Best Upset" at the 2010 ESPY Awards on Wednesday night in Los Angeles, another landmark moment for a program still riding the crest of its Sweet 16 appearance last March. Northern Iowa's second-round upset of pre-NCAA tournament-favorite Kansas beat out Y.E. Yang toppling Tiger Woods at the PGA Championship, Frankie Edgar taking down UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn, and Hawaii softball knocking out top-ranked Alabama.

"On behalf of these two guys and their teammates that are watching, we'd like to thank ESPN, thank all of the fans that voted for us," Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said as he accepted the award. "This really caps off a fun season."

Although Northern Iowa had the chance to bask in the national spotlight for a week in mid-March, Jacobson's stiff acceptance speech made it clear the Panthers are still getting used to this level of attention. About the closest he came to humor was telling Farokhmanesh to hand the trophy to teammate Adam Koch because he was "afraid Ali might shoot that thing."

Farokhmanesh, of course, sank the somewhat ill-advised 3-pointer that clinched the victory over Kansas.

Earlier in the week, a reporter from WOI-TV asked Jacobson whether winning an ESPY could provide the program a recruiting boost during the July evaluation period.

"We talked about it as a staff when we got the invite because we are in the middle of our recruiting period," Jacobson said. "I've got three great assistants and they're out there working right now. Obviously the opportunity to be out here and be a part of this is not something we would miss."

Other college basketball award-winners at the ESPYs: Duke (Best men's college athletic program), Stanford (Best women's college athletic program), John Wall, Kentucky (Best male college athlete), Maya Moore, UConn (Best female college athlete).

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