I don’t think Brad Banks ever stopped smiling the whole time I covered him. Drew Tate, I don’t think he smiled. They were both great, great players. Banks’ 2002 and Tate’s 2004 are singular seasons in Iowa QB history.
1) Brad Banks (2001-02)
Banks came to Iowa as a QB recruit, but he also was recruited out of Hinds (Miss.) Community College as a wide receiver. He showed something in 2001, but took a backseat to Kyle McCann down the stretch. Then, in 2002, Banks put up one of the best and most celebrated seasons by an Iowa quarterback. He lead the Hawkeyes to an 8-0 record in the Big Ten, a co-Big Ten championship and the school’s only BCS bowl bid. He led the nation in pass efficiency (166.0) and threw 25 TDs to just four interceptions. He ended up second in Heisman voting. He’s No. 8 on Iowa’s career passing list with 3,155 yards.
Here’s a Banks story from the NY Times.
Here’s my Banks story from Heisman night (this was from before The Gazette was on the ‘net, so it’s long, something you’ll find in a lot of these):
NEW YORK – You love Brad Banks. Try to remember that today while thinking how close Iowa came to having its second Heisman Trophy winner.
You love Brad Banks.
The 921 Heisman Trophy voters loved USC’s Carson Palmer a little more.
But hey, that’s them.
Palmer won five of the six regions and had 242 first-place votes to Banks’ 199, becoming USC’s fifth Heisman Trophy winner Saturday night. Palmer, the first West Coast Heisman winner in 21 years, totaled 1,328 points to Banks’ 1,095, a comfortable margin of victory.
“My heart’s about to come out of my shirt,” said Palmer, who was 16-16 as a starter before leading the No. 5 Trojans to a 10-2 record and a berth opposite Iowa in the Orange Bowl. “This has been amazing, this whole journey through this season.”
In what was expected to be one of the closest races in Heisman history, Palmer topped Banks, with Penn State’s Larry Johnson third. Miami’s Willis McGahee was fourth and teammate Ken Dorsey finished fifth.
It was the first time all five finalists received more than 100 first-place votes.
“In a way I was expecting to win,” said Banks, who earlier this week won the Associated Press player of the year award and the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback. “I was hearing all this hype. But it went to a good person.”
Banks won the Midwest with 289 points, 100 more than Palmer, who became USC’s first Heisman winner since running back Marcus Allen in 1981.
“I couldn’t be more honored to take this trophy back to share with my teammates in Los Angeles,” Palmer said. “This award is as much theirs as it is mine.”
So, Banks didn’t win the Heisman. He was close.
“It’s a great feeling standing here talking to you guys about the Heisman,” said Banks, who led the Hawkeyes to an 11-1 record and their first undefeated Big Ten season since 1922.
“I mean, this is the Heisman Trophy. And I’m here. That’s amazing.”
Last season, Banks was No. 2 on the Hawkeyes’ depth chart. Two years ago, he led Hinds (Miss.) Community College to something called the Magnolia Bowl. Three years ago, he was a wide receiver at Hinds. Four years ago, he was a freshman at Central Florida buried on a depth chart that included Minnesota Vikings’ Daunte Culpepper.
In August, he was a first-year starter and an X-factor.
Saturday, he was at the Yale Club think Cedar Rapids Country Club times 10 in the middle of downtown New York, styling in a sharp black suit with a white shirt and tie.
“I mean, what? Heisman? Where was I last year?” said Banks, who led the nation in passing efficiency with a 166.1 rating. “What? I’m standing here right now, and I’m here talking about the Heisman.
“It’s something good. I enjoyed the ride, why not?”
Banks is Iowa’s fourth Heisman runner-up, joining quarterback Chuck Long (1985), quarterback Randy Duncan (1958) and defensive lineman Alex Karras (1957). Banks’ finish is Iowa’s highest since Tim Dwight was voted seventh in 1997.
“I’m sure he had to be a little disappointed,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who, at the urging of his assistants, skipped Saturday’s Orange Bowl practice and attended the ceremonies. “But to put this in perspective, Brad started his first game in college back in August.
“There was something about Brad even in the recruiting process that jumped out. We’ve always had a great feeling about Brad.”
And so do you.
You love the Iowa quarterback so much that you demanded the University of Iowa to market Banks’ No. 7 jersey instead of the departed running back Aaron Greving’s No. 34. And you got your wish when Banks’ No. 7 hit Iowa retailers in early December.
You love Banks so much you probably dropped a few productive moments at work during the past few weeks, voting for Banks in any and all cyber Heisman polls.
Through campaigns led by Hawkeyenation.com, a Web site devoted to all things Iowa athletics, you mouse-clicked Banks to actual Heisman votes from a Toledo (Ohio) Blade sports writer and Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Morrisey.
You also won Banks the People’s Heisman on CNN/SI.
So, not all of the 921 Heisman voters loved Banks as much as you.
During the first two weeks of Heisman voting, Banks led Palmer by a fairly comfortable margin. During the first week, Banks had nearly 30 percent of the total points compared to 15 percent for Palmer. Banks held a similar edge in week two. Other than his otherworldly performances, Banks’ best weapon
for the Heisman was the Big Ten’s TV contract. The Big Ten Conference has the arguably best TV contract among the power conferences, with its games going to ABC, ESPN or ESPN2.
Eight of the Hawkeyes’ 12 games were shown on ESPN or ESPN2, including seven of the Hawkeyes’ Big Ten games.
The Hawkeyes had a Q rating off the charts in a certain Belle Glade, Fla., home.
“We watched almost all of the games on TV,” said Vida Banks, Brad’s mom, whose family held Hawkeyes parties in the Banks’ Belle Glade home. “We were tuned in every Saturday at 12 o’clock. We’d have chicken wings and crabs and we’d sit and stand and yell and yell some more.”
But ESPN wasn’t enough to overcome recency effect.
The Hawkeyes played 12 straight weeks, beginning Aug. 31 against Akron. They finished their regular season Nov. 16 at Minnesota, leaving Banks on the sidelines while the Heisman ballots were shipped to the 921 voters.
“To me, it’s irrelevant whether the last game was Nov. 16 or Dec. 7, other than maybe leaving impressions,” Ferentz said last week when asked to do a little Heisman stumping. “But if you look at 12 games, with all due respect to the other players, I don’t know who’s done more for his football team.”
While Banks and the Hawkeyes sat idle, Palmer made the most of his final game, passing for 425 yards and four TDs in a 44-13 victory over Notre Dame on ABC national TV on Nov. 30.
“I think it was the Notre Dame game,” Palmer said. “If anyone else was playing in that game, maybe they would have gotten the trophy.”
We’re talking prime time TV on ABC and a decisive win over Notre Dame, the most polarizing team in college football. A lot of voters probably enjoyed USC’s rousing victory.
“A lot of people have been talking about the East Coast bias and I think this takes care of that,” Palmer said.
The performance also earned Palmer a spread in Sports Illustrated.
“Voters must’ve been paying attention,” said ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, one of the Heisman show’s hosts. “Sometimes it’s hard to do that with regional TV.
I’ve got to give the voters credit for that.”
Iowa’s budget for Banks’ Heisman promotion was less than $2,000, according to Iowa sports information director Phil Haddy.
Like it or not in the big-time world of college athletics, that’s a whisper in the wind. Iowa’s philosophy was to let Banks’ play do his
campaigning for him. That philosophy nearly won the Heisman Trophy.
“It’s not our usual M.O. to go out and buy billboards in Times Square or to put out bobble heads,” Iowa athletics director Bob Bowlsby said last week. “I just don’t see that being the way Iowa typically does business.
“Iowa is a place, as a university and a state, where we sort of understate and overdeliver.”
Understate, overdeliver, that’s Banks right there. That’s why you love him.
2) Drew Tate (2003-06)
The 5-11-ish, 200-ish Tate was a competitor incarnate. As a freshman, he burned his redshirt as the No. 2 behind Nathan Chandler. He didn’t play any significant minutes, but it set the stage for a magical 2004. As a sophomore, Tate set the Big Ten on fire, whirling the Hawkeyes to a share of the conference title, earning first-team all-Big Ten and continuing a play at Michigan without a helmet. Of course, he threw one of the most memorable passes in Iowa history, lifting the Hawkeyes to a Capital One Bowl victory over college blueblood LSU on the final play of the game — a 56-yard TD to Warren Holloway. That was the pinnacle. The Hawkeyes limped into the Outback the next season and finished 6-7 in 2006 after losing a hard-fought game to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. Tate suffered torn ligaments in his thumb as a senior, but fought through it, as you’d expect. I always enjoyed Drew. Yes, he got short with the media sometimes, but that was OK by me. Don’t ask Drew dumb questions. Seemed OK to me, even when I was on the receiving end. He finished his career as Iowa’s No. 2 passer with 8,292 yards.
Tate is playing with the Calgary Stampede this season.
Here’s a story on Tate after the 2006 Alamo Bowl, his final game at Iowa:
SAN ANTONIO – Drew Tate showed the welled-up red bumps on his arms, where the two IVs went in during the third quarter.
His hands cramped. His groin muscles cramped. His calves cramped.
“Everything cramped,” Tate said. “Everything locked up.”
The IVs were taped so tightly to his elbows that he couldn’t throw the ball the way he wanted to. He tore them out and started bleeding out of both arms.
Tate wasn’t going to go out sitting on the bench, watching the Hawkeyes’ 26-24 loss to Texas in Saturday’s Alamo Bowl.
Locked up legs, IVs and all, he was going to go out fighting.
The senior completed 15 of 25 passes for 274 yards, an interception and two TD passes in his last game as a Hawkeye.
The season of the strained ab, torn thumb ligament, pulled groin and battered persona ended with the Texas native trying to run one of those crazy pitch plays with legs that failed him on every step.
He went out just as he came in, fiesty and gutty.
“I can go right down the list, a lot of seniors stepped up today,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said, “and I don’t think (one) any more important that Drew Tate.
“He’s had a tough year in a lot of regards, physically, mentally, and, boy, he gave us every chance to win today.”
When Tate left the game, it all seemed lost for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa kicker Kyle Schlicher missed a 45-yard field goal. Texas QB Colt McCoy lofted a perfect sideline pass to running back Jamaal Charles for a 72-yard TD, giving Texas a 20-14 lead.
Jake Christensen, Iowa’s backup QB, didn’t have a chance against Texas’ swarming defense. His one drive was three plays, two penalties and minus-17 yards.
Tate came back in and brought Iowa back from the brink, completing three straight passes with the last one going to wideout Andy Brodell for a 23-yard TD and a 21-20 Iowa lead.
“This wasn’t what we wanted, what I wanted,” Tate said. “It almost was, but it wasn’t. I don’t know if that makes any of us feel any better.”
The first player Texas Coach Mack Brown went to after the mangle of a postgame was Tate.
“I just said `Welcome home and congratulations’ on his career,” Brown said, “especially his effort tonight and the way he has handled himself all week.”
Brown obviously read the Iowa press clippings. He knew it was a tough year for Tate.
The frustrations built with injuries. They were aggravated when a young group of wideouts played like a young group of wideouts, with plenty of drops all around.
“It was tough on him; those weren’t in the script,” Ferentz said. “He also puts so much pressure on himself.”
The Hawkeyes finished 6-7. It was the first time Tate finished on a losing team in any sport.
“It’s been really tough,” Tate said. “There were so many games we should’ve won but we didn’t. We had a great effort, but we didn’t win. That’s not easy, not for anyone in our locker room.”
Tate went out fighting for an Iowa win. Try to remember that.
3) Kyle McCann (1998-01)
McCann was a bit of a lightning rod in 2001, when the Hawkeyes were turning the corner. Fans loved Banks, who came off the bench and flashed. What fans don’t remember is that Banks struggled a bit down the stretch in ’01. He had just five completions in the final three games. McCann started Ferentz’s first game at Iowa, a 42-7 loss to Nebraska. I was still covering ISU, but wrote a sidebar that day. It was brutal. Here’s a sample:
“Nebraska played kick the can like a bunch of school boys during recess. Actually, the Cornhuskers kicked the McCann, as in Iowa’s life-sized quarterback Kyle McCann, all day Saturday and up and down Kinnick Stadium.
The Huskers, whose defense is nicknamed the blackshirts, wore out Iowa’s black jerseys. McCann was sacked three times and was knocked a ton. After Saturday, McCann knows how the rodent feels in the popular arcade game Whack-a-Mole.
“A couple times, I didn’t think he was going to get back up,” Nebraska defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “You’ve got to give the kid credit. He came back everytime.”
McCann went out a winner. He waved the Hawkeye flag in the Alamodome, after the Hawkeyes beat Texas Tech. He’s also No. 6 on Iowa’s career passing list with 4,349 yards.
Honorable mention: Nathan Chandler. The 6-7 juco helped the Hawkeyes to a 10-3 record in ’03, which included a stellar performance in a 37-17 Outback Bowl victory over Florida and Ron Zook. Yes, it was shaky at times (first half of Wisconsin), but he stayed the course and never tried to do too much.