Former Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, the 2002 Heisman Trophy runner-up, was one of six people inducted into the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame leading up to Saturday’s Hawkeye season opener vs. Northern Illinois.
“I’m honored and privileged beyond measure,” Banks said. “We had some great players that helped me get to where I did. I’m just grateful.”
After seeing limited duty in 2001 as a backup to Kyle McCann, Banks passed for 2,573 yards in 2002 and led Iowa to a 11-2 record, a Big Ten title and an Orange Bowl appearance.
“We had a good run,” Banks said. “A lot of work went behind it. There was a lot of growth and perseverance. I had great coaches who put me in the right position to help me make the plays. Everything clicked.”
Iowa commitment stays home. Ben Niemann was planning to be at Kinnick Stadium Saturday, but the weather didn’t cooperate.
The Iowa commit and son of Northern Illinois defensive coordinator Jay Niemann had to stay home. His season-opening football game was postponed by a storm Friday night and moved to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Niemann, an outside linebacker, originally committed to Northern Illinois. But he changed his mind and gave Iowa his pledge on July 20. Ben’s father, Jay, is from Avoca and played at Iowa State. Jay’s coaching stops included Drake (1989-96), Northern Iowa (1997-2001) and Simpson College (2002-07).
Larry Station could still play. As a sun-splashed ceremony honoring the first Wall of Honor class at Iowa began Saturday, Larry Station, in a shirt without sleeves, looked like he could suit up and lead either team in tackles. The suggestion appealed to Station, 49.
“I would like to, actually. I saw (Northern Illinois) drive the ball down the field (in the first quarter), I was like, ‘C’mon, y’all — you’ve got to step it up,’ ” Station said. “I feel it in my heart, that I’d definitely like to play.
“But physically, I probably could only last a series of downs before I had to go into traction.”
Even with those biceps?
“Maybe two series,” he said, with a laugh. “Maybe the half. Whatever is necessary to win, basically.”
When asked about Iowa’s four-win season a year ago, Station — an all-American under coach Hayden Fry — said the philosophy he used to win in the 1980s still can apply today.
“Each person, player or coaches, have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Is this the best I can do?’ ” Station said. “And if it is, and you’re still not winning, you’ve got to do more.”
Station’s No. 36 is now displayed with eight others — including living honorees Chuck Long and Randy Duncan — on the front façade of the stadium press box. Station, for the record, said Fry would support the do-whatever-it-takes thinking, too.
“A lot of times, people would talk about coach Fry, nice guy and all this stuff. But he was only a nice guy when we won,” said Station, with a hearty laugh. “When we lost, he was not nice at all.”
Bob Brooks enters Year 71. Saturday marked the beginning of Bob Brooks’ 71st season of covering Iowa football. The longtime radio and television personality began reporting on the Hawkeyes in 1943, and watched Nile Kinnick play in the 1930s.
When Brooks arrived Saturday, he saw a high-tech $9 million video board system, and a new wall of honor celebrating Iowa’s past.
“Everybody had to put (the scoreboard) in,” Brooks said. “Keeping up with the Joneses.
“I’m always happy when they honor Iowa players and their history.”
Proud alum. Former Hawkeye defensive end Adrian Clayborn, now with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, might have felt a little nostalgic Saturday when he tweeted, “Who’s taking bets on the number of PAULA’s giving out to freshmen on their first hawkeye tailgating experience?!”
Anthem for hire. These days, almost everything’s for sale in the world of high-dollar college athletics. Even, it seems, the National Anthem. The public address announcer mentioned the company AgriBusiness in connection to the anthem — in a moment that felt very NASCAR-ish.
A little steamy: The announced temperature of the Kinnick Stadium field turf to start the game was 163 degrees. By halftime, it had cooled to “only” 145.
No sellout: Saturday’s opening-day attendance at Kinnick Stadium, 67,402, was just the fourth non-sellout in the last 66 home games. Kinnick Stadium holds 70,585.
Contributing: Andrew Logue, Bryce Miller