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Harty: Remembering 2002 team 10 years later

[ 0 ] August 20, 2012 |

Brad Banks and the other members of the 2002 Iowa football team gave fans plenty to celebrate, and now it’s time to say thanks 10 years later for a job well done.

It’s always a pleasure speaking with Banks because he’s friendly, he’s positive and he brings back memories of that magical fall 10 years ago when a star-studded Iowa football team finished undefeated in the Big Ten and set a school record with 11 victories overall.

The buzz from that season has faded, but the echoes will be awakened for one weekend in September when the 2002 Iowa team is honored during the Sept. 15 game against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

In addition to that ceremony, Banks said there’ll be a banquet honoring the 2002 team that weekend. Members of the 2002 team also plan to attend practice that week as a show of unity and support.

“They’re going to make a weekend out of it,” Banks said Monday. “We’re going to, obviously, go out to practice and do some other things.”

Part of what made the 2002 season so enjoyable and intriguing was that few people besides maybe veteran radio broadcaster and supreme optimist Bob Brooks saw the success coming.

Banks’ improbable rise from former backup quarterback in 2001 to runner-up for the 2002 Heisman Trophy would’ve been impossible to believe if we didn’t see it unfolding right before our eyes, one incredible Saturday after another, with exception to the second half against Iowa State.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was in his fourth season at Iowa in 2002. That season was the start of an unprecedented three-year run of success for the Hawkeyes, who won two Big Ten titles and finished a combined 31-7 from 2002 to 2004.

And for Banks, the 2002 season was one of the greatest one-year runs by an Iowa quarterback. Take away the second half against Iowa State and the loss to Southern California in the Orange Bowl and Banks was a model of consistency with a sprinkle of flash.

He shredded defenses with his arms and his legs like no other Iowa quarterback had ever done or has done since.

“Wow, 10 years, it’s here already,” Banks said. “It happens fast. It seems like it just happened, it does. We had an outstanding year. We had some awesome players and wonderful people on that team to make it what it was.

“And of course, with all the support of Hawkeye nation, it was a great time for the whole Hawkeye nation.”

Banks is quick to point out his teammates from the 2002 squad because it truly was a star-studded cast with players such as all-America tight end Dallas Clark, all-America strong safety Bob Sanders and all-Big Ten running back Fred Russell, just to name a few. Sanders and Russell told Banks that they plan to be in Iowa City for the reunion.

“There are quite few guys saying that they’re going to be back for it,” Banks said. “So it should be an awesome weekend.”

Banks played professionally in Canada after leaving Iowa, as well as for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League before retiring after the 2010 season.

The Belle Glade, Fla., native now lives in West Des Moines and has just started working for a Chicago-based nutrition company in sales and marketing.

Banks said his new job gives him a lot of freedom.

“I’m able to live and go and be wherever I want to be,” Banks said.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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