Three cool things:
1. I jumped in almost the exact same time Kirk Ferentz did. My first game “on the beat” was 1999 at Michigan State. I was hired at The Gazette to cover Iowa State football. Three games into my second fall, I was on the Hawkeyes.
So, I wasn’t there for a lot of Aaron Kampman. I just have a few fleeting memories and they’re perfectly summed up in the quotes you’ll read in the gamer.
He was a cool, calm, mature guy. Seriously, he was like covering a 28-year-old. I was 31 at the time and wished I could pull off “adult” like Kampman did as a college senior.
Was Aaron Kampman the first great player of the Ferentz era? It depends how you do the accounting. Kampman was a Hayden Fry recruit out of Aplington-Parkersburg, the storied (and it should be) program. And since I’m making up the rules, I’m calling Kampman the first great player of the Ferentz era.
I’m not sure he was a fully-formed defensive end, but Kampman, who began his Iowa career as a middle linebacker, was athletic enough to totally make it work. Think about all of the moves Ferentz made when he arrived. I don’t know if he pushed for them all, but, clearly, Ferentz and staff walked in and looked at certain players and said, “You need to move to _______.” So many worked.
Kampman moved to defensive end going into the 2000 season. He was a two-time Pro Bowler with the Packers. In 2006, Kampman signed a contract extension with the Packers for $21 million. When he left for the Jaguars in 2010, he signed a $25 million deal before suffering a torn ACL and eventually retiring.
Ferentz made a few moves that got Kampman, Colin Cole (he was a DE when he began his career), Bruce Nelson and Eric Steinbach paid. Shoot, what should I do with my life, KF?
Don’t answer that.
2. People have quick opinions on the QB race in 2001. The no-look opinion (which are the @#$#$ worst, BTW) is Brad Banks was the man and should’ve been given the keys and that was that.
But then you actually look at the numbers. And you see McCann’s steady improvement (key word “steady,” that’s a good Ferentz word here) and see that Banks did struggle in the last few games of 2001.
Banks had just five completions in the final three games. McCann was the right choice to land the plane in the Alamodome. Clearly, the early investment in Banks paid off. Still, you don’t see much if any of that with Ferentz and Iowa anymore.
Old hindsight. This, to me, is actually a compliment. The Iowa staff pulled the right strings, just not the string some of you thought would automatically work.
3. We have a Jeremy Allen reference. Allen was a football walk-on and a really great thrower for the Iowa track team. He worked his way to starting fullback and he totally killed it.
In 2001, Allen rushed for 247 yards and four touchdowns and caught 20 passes for 264 yards and another four TDs. Iowa hasn’t used the fullback that much as a ball carrier/pass catcher since. The fullbacks are now under offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz. So, maybe?
But really, Allen’s numbers happened for a team that didn’t know exactly what it could be, so every skill dude with a heartbeat got a chance to do something. Allen did something. He is the prime example for Iowa fullback that you kind of have to toss out. Probably not going to happen again.
Quote: Banks and WR C.J. Jones were cousins. No, that didn’t buy Jones any extra touches.
“I keep telling him (Jones) that he’s got to be open,” Banks said. “I’m not going to force it to him because he’s my cousin. We’ve got a lot of guys who come do a lot with the ball. He’s got to work for it. No special treatment.”
Note: Iowa’s 603 yards of offense in this game is believed to be the second-most in the Ferentz era. Iowa had 613 against Minnesota in 2005. (You know it as the “Ed Hinkel Game.”)
Why No. 116? — You could tell Iowa was building toward something. And Northwestern Coach Randy Walker built the Wildcats to an 8-4 record in 2000. Alas, this was the last game Walker coached against the Hawkeyes. He passed away from a heart attack the next summer. Walker brought the spread with a strong running game attached and it changed the Big Ten.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2001
EVANSTON, Ill. — One is a cheerleader. One is a sourpuss. Saturday, it didn’t matter which one.
It didn’t matter if the Hawkeyes’ quarterback was senior Kyle McCann or if it was junior Brad Banks. Saturday, it didn’t matter if it was sophomore walk-on David Raih, which, in the end, was who it was.
But it didn’t matter, really. The Hawkeyes made it not matter a whit.
Iowa dominated Northwestern every which way, winning, 59-16, before a heavily-dominated Hawkeye crowd of 36,458 at Ryan Field.
The Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-4 Big Ten) moved as if offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe had a remote control, churning out a season-high 602 yards offense. And, accentuating that total-team effort thing, the defense put up a retaining wall, holding the Wildcats (4-5, 2-5 Big Ten) to 256 total yards.
The Hawkeyes snapped a four-game road losing streak in their biggest road victory since a 63-20 rout at Iowa State in 1997. The loss was Northwestern’s fourth straight and its worst home loss since a 42-0 defeat to Indiana in 1990.
Iowa wideout Kahlil Hill piled up 233 all-purpose yards, including six receptions for 133 yards. He had punt returns of 48 and 25 yards that eventually turned into a 21-0 first-quarter lead.
Five different Hawkeyes scored touchdowns. Senior fullback Jeremy Allen scored three.
There was one no-doubt-about-it first in Saturday’s game. Banks, the ebullient junior college transfer, is the first Iowa quarterback to get flagged. Literally, flagged.
After the game ended, Iowa players streamed toward the bleachers on the northeast side of the field, high-fiving and hugging anyone and anything black-and-gold, which, at game’s end, was everything at Ryan Field.
During the happy chaos, Banks grabbed one of those huge Hawkeyes flags from a cheerleader and started waving it.
“That thing is heavy man, real heavy. I think I strained my shoulder,” Banks joked. “That was great. But, man, that flag was heavy.”
McCann, the all-business business major, distanced himself from the celebration, calmly jogging to the locker room. Burned in the media and booed by the Kinnick Stadium fans during Iowa’s two-game losing streak, McCann’s finished talking, declining interview requests after the game and next Tuesday.
“I’m really happy for Kyle,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I know he’s been kicked around a little bit, if you will. But he’s a tough-minded young guy, he prepares and really I thought did a nice job today.”
We do know McCann was accurate, efficient and poised. His performance did all his talking for him.
McCann started and led the Hawkeyes to a 14-0 lead, setting a pace that Northwestern would never match. He completed 4 of 6 passes, including three on third down, during Iowa’s opening drive, which ended with Allen scoring the first of his three touchdowns.
Banks got his first crack on Iowa’s third possession. And on his first play, he rifled a 50-yard bomb to receiver C.J. Jones, his cousin, splitting the coverage by cornerback Raheem Covington and free safety Herschel Henderson, giving the Hawkeyes first-and-goal at NU’s 4.
“I keep telling him (Jones) that he’s got to be open, Banks said. “I’m not going to force it to him because he’s my cousin. We’ve got a lot of guys who come do a lot with the ball. He’s got to work for it. No special treatment.”
McCann (9-of-14 for 152) and Banks (7-of-9 for 145) combined for 305 passing yards, two TDs and one Banks interception that allowed Northwestern to pull within 21-7 in the first quarter.
”It really doesn’t matter who plays quarterback. We believe we can win with both guys,” said Hill, who averaged 25.8 yards every time he touched the ball. “I think today’s game says it all about our quarterbacks.”
A players-only meeting Sunday seemed to spur the Hawkeyes, who were hexed by penalties and turnovers in losses to Michigan and Wisconsin their last two games.
Five seniors spoke their minds, in a productive, constructive manner, after Sunday’s practice.
“If you do something like that, it needs to work,” senior defensive end Aaron Kampman said. “It was very controlled, concise and to the point. No screaming or yelling, just re-establish our vision. That we are a good football team, that we can play with anyone and beat anyone. We had to re-establish that, and it obviously worked. People listened.”
Boy howdy, did they listen.
“We had it all going today, even the fullback,” Allen joked. “Everybody forgot about me, huh?”
Forgetful, that would about size up Northwestern’s rumor of a defense.
”Honestly, it’s flat-out embarrassing,” Northwestern defensive end Napoleon Harris said.
Northwestern’s Zak Kustok came into Saturday’s game with the glittering QB resume. He entered averaging 290.2 yards total offense. He left late in the third quarter with 120 total yards, 34 rushing and 86 passing.
Kustok threw two interceptions in the third quarter, helping the Hawkeyes post a season-best 28 points in the third, pushing their lead to 59-9 and removing any twinge of doubt.
For the first time in 40 games, the Wildcats played without star running back Damien Anderson, who’s the sixth-leading rusher in Big Ten history. As obvious as the “N” on their helmets, the Wildcats were handcuffed.
“I’m not going to lie, I feel sorry for him he didn’t play,” Kampman said, “but it’s always a good situation when a starter with that much experience and talent isn’t able to play.”
The Hawks, who converted 12 of 15 third downs, ran 86 plays to Northwestern’s 65. Iowa had the ball 22 minutes, 43 seconds to Northwestern’s 7:17 en rote to a 31-7 halftime lead.
“I think they were averaging like 440 yards and we held them to something like 250 today,” Kampman said. “That’s a real tribute to the coaches and the schemes.”
With five victories in hand, the Hawkeyes are something like a bowl team again. One win away with games against Minnesota and at Iowa State, they’re something like for real.
Considering the wild, herky-jerky ride, that’s saying something.