Iowa City, Ia. – Roaming through the tailgaters at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday were a pair of quarterbacks who once owned the Big Game.
For former Iowa State signal-caller Sage Rosenfels, it was his first trip to the stadium since he led the Cyclones to a 24-14 win here in 2000. With his 11-year NFL career on an unplanned hiatus after the Vikings cut him two weeks ago, the Maquoketa native has some time on his hands, and he was happy to spend it reliving one of his greatest memories.
“Scoring sort of the clinching touchdown in that northeast end zone is probably one of the most special moments here at Kinnick for me,” Rosenfels said. “My first-ever college football game, I came with a high school friend and sat in that end zone right there.”
How did he celebrate the score?
“I wish I could have spiked (the football),” said Rosenfels, 34, who also helped the Cyclones beat Iowa 17-10 in 1999. “(Former coach Dan) McCarney was pretty strict on no penalties. It’s funny, I remember scoring that touchdown and I was excited, but it was really more of a relief, because I wanted to win that game badly for myself, but also for all of my teammates and coach McCarney, who is obviously from here. It was almost more of a relief that we had accomplished something that we’d spent five years thinking about a lot.”
In the broadcast booth Saturday, former Hawkeye star Chuck Long was doing his best to remain objective while calling the game for the Big Ten Network.
“I’m the third man in the booth, so that helps,” he said. “They want me to provide analysis of both teams, obviously, but they know where I played.”
Long was the quarterback during three successive Hawkeye blowout victories in this series from 1983-85. He said Big Game week was notable for how much more intense the practices became under legendary coach Hayden Fry.
“Coach Fry was known for the humor he would bring to things,” Long said. “But that week, he would lose his normal sense of humor.
“He knew the importance of that game in terms of recruiting. They were a down program at that time, so he didn’t want to take that lightly.”
Both former quarterbacks took the opportunity to do something they couldn’t during their playing days — mingle with fans soaking up the sun, among other things, in the parking lots surrounding Kinnick.
“I missed all that time when I played. I like it. I want to do more of it. I want to make up for it,” said Long, 49.
“I love the crowd. I love the people here. They still recognize me. I’m not a has-been yet. A lot of them were kids when I was in college, and now they’re all grown up. I get a lot of, ‘I was in third grade when you took that picture with me.’ They date me.”
Rosenfels, still stinging from the Vikings’ decision to release the lone veteran quarterback on their roster, said he is staying in shape and waiting for another opportunity that he’s confident will come.
“I’m not going to just sit in my basement and feel sorry for myself,” Rosenfels said. “I’m going to go out and try to do things I’ve never done before.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football