Although I wasn't alive in rhe 1950s, I'll give coach Gaer a partial mulligan for those years. I believe Drake deemphasized football about 1959, opting for the college division. During those years, Drake had small rosters and (eventually) less challenging schedules. Overnight, it got harder to recruit players
It was a similar situation with Chuck Shelton in 82 & 83, after the NCAA forced Drake into I-AA over attendance issues. Drake was a I-AA team playing in a I-A conference.