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Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has 143 wins under his belt at the University of Iowa, one away from the all-time record.

The Gazette will count down each win, as ranked by writer Marc Morehouse.


Football violence played much differently 16 years ago

No. 10 Iowa 20, Wisconsin 3 | Nov. 2, 2002

Wisconsin's Brooks Bollinger braces for a hit by Iowa's Derek Pagel (left) during the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)
Wisconsin's Brooks Bollinger braces for a hit by Iowa's Derek Pagel (left) during the first half Saturday, Nov. 2, 2002 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. (The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. There are a couple of story treatments I will be sweating when this comes out. If you can’t recall the first one, I’m sure as heck not telling you.

And this one.

I’m not sweating it as much as I’m thinking, wow, this kind of treading in the violence of the game, I guess it was OK then.

This was grim and obviously times have changed. The real question is what do I do when Iowa again gets this much more physical than its opponents? That is one of those good problems for you and your team. Obviously. I hope I would downplay it. Would I track QBs getting knocked out of the game? Well, if it happened consistently, you can’t ignore it.

I’m thinking Derek Pagel would’ve gotten an ejection. I still think the ejection is too harsh. It’s time to explore the idea of yellow cards, which is something college football kind of does now with the two personal fouls and you’re gone policy.

I think you could have “yellow” and “red” hits. Get two yellows and you’re out. Get a red and same with a carry-over to the next week if it happens in the second half.

I wouldn’t be doing this monster survey of 20 years of Iowa football if I didn’t love football. Now, I’d like some real thinking going into the preservation of the game. Strides have been made. I know the majority hates the targeting rule, but it has taken some heat out of the game.

Players are going to be the best guardians of safety. It is a competition and it’s physical. It doesn’t have to be a blood sport and I think most players respect that.

Or I hope they do. I commend the moves to enhance player safety. I like keeping kickoffs and hope rules committees on every level are open to figuring that out.

Still, you can’t be naive. The game has collisions. Safety is always going to be theoretical.

2. WR Mo Brown had a crazy career here.

Let’s jump ahead to 2003. He made one of the best catches of the Kirk Ferentz era at Iowa State. He had an ankle blown up on the play and missed a bunch of games, but that play helped open the doors to Iowa snapping a five-game losing streak to the Cyclones.

In 2002, Brown caught 48 passes for 966 yards and 11 TDs. The 11 TDs stayed a record until Marvin McNutt came around in 2011. Brown is one of two Iowa wideouts to average more than 20 yards a catch in a season. Brown averaged 20.1 in 2002. In 1983, Ronnie Harmon averaged 20.8 per catch.

3. Back when The Gazette and KCRG were owned by the same company, we did this TV show called “On Iowa Live.” One night, this young author came on to talk about his book “Growing Up Hawkeye.”

It was Pagel. Great guy. I ran into him, I think, the next year for homecoming. I think he had a couple of cans of Budweiser and was having fun.

You can still get his book on Amazon.

Quote: Here’s the Kirk Ferentz T-shirt and tattoo quote:

“Our guys like to hit. That’s a Hawkeye tradition that we want to keep going.”

Note: Here’s a good one: What was Kirk Ferentz’s record against Barry Alvarez?

Ferentz finished 4-3. Lost the first three meetings and then won the next four, including 2005 at Camp Randall, Alvarez’s last game there as the UW head coach.

Why No. 75? — Games like this molded Wisconsin into what it is, the perennial favorite in the Big Ten West.


Game story from 2002

IOWA CITY — They swear they’re not trying to hurt anybody. The last thing they want to do, they say. But they also know this isn’t two-hand touch.

They swear they’re not trying to hurt anybody. It just works out that way.

The Iowa defense KO’d Wisconsin’s first- and second-string quarterbacks Saturday, while Hawkeyes quarterback Brad Banks shredded the Badgers for 275 yards and two touchdowns in No. 9 Iowa’s 20-3 victory before a full house of 70,397 at Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes improved to 9-1 and to 6-0 in the Big Ten, the first time an Iowa team has been 6-0 in the Big Ten. The best Big Ten start before Saturday was 5-0 in 1921-22.

The Badgers fell to 6-4 (1-4 Big Ten) while having their five-game winning streak over Iowa snapped.

Well, less snapped and more broken into tiny, little bits.

This was ugly, gritty, mean football. The kind of football that breaks the opponent, visibly and physically. This was — and after week after week of this, you have to say it — Iowa football.

The defining moment came just before halftime.

Iowa had just taken a 10-3 lead, and UW quarterback Brooks Bollinger, who entered Saturday’s game with a 3-0 record against the Hawkeyes, tried to ignite his offense.

A screen pass broke down and Bollinger took off toward the sideline to save clock. He never made it.

Linebacker Kevin Worthy had Bollinger’s legs, and free safety Derek Pagel finished him off with a vicious helmet-to-helmet clack that set off migraines through the first 20 rows of Kinnick bleachers.

“When you’re trying to get away from a tackle like that and you get hit face-on like that, that’s tough to walk away from,” defensive tackle Colin Cole said. “I knew pretty much right then that he was going to be done. He got up slow and he was blinking his eyes a lot. I could tell something was wrong with him.”

Pagel has his sweet side, posing for pictures with some hometown folks from Plainfield just after the game, hugging any Plainfield folk who wanted hugging.

But this isn’t two-hand touch.

“We want to be the most physical defense in the Big Ten,” said Pagel, who also had his team-high fourth interception. “You get a hit like that, you hope maybe it shakes him up a little bit. You want it to shake his confidence.”

The hit shook Bollinger, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago at Ohio State, out of the game with a concussion. His backup, Jim Sorgi, was knocked out, too, leaving after Cole, a 307-pounder, flopped on him in the fourth quarter.

“They told me Brooks was going to play in the second half, but he wasn’t thinking clearly,” Wisconsin Coach Barry Alvarez said. “They didn’t want to take a chance putting him in there.”

Alvarez said Sorgi wasn’t hurt.

“I just took him out. We didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.

Like it or not, violence is as much a part of football as ankle tape.

Iowa is good at violence.

Counting the two Saturday, Iowa has now knocked out six quarterbacks for various parts of games this season.

Start with Akron’s Charlie Frye to Purdue’s Kyle Orton to Michigan State’s Jeff Smoker to Michigan’s John Navarre to Saturday’s double knockout.

“If it wasn’t Pagel, I was going to get him on that play,” defensive end Howard Hodges said. “I was chasing him, but the next thing you know, Pagel just took his head off. Pagel took him in the stands.”

While Iowa’s offense struggled to find itself, the defense pitched the flag.

The Hawkeyes held tailback Anthony Davis to a career-low 34 yards on 16 carries. They held the Badgers to 215 yards offense, including just 78 on the ground.

Iowa has allowed just one TD in its last three games. Michigan cashed in a gimme TD from the 1-yard line last week after Iowa botched a punt.

“Our guys like to hit,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who won for the first time in eight tries against a former Hayden Fry assistant. “That’s a Hawkeye tradition that we want to keep going.”

Running back Fred Russell didn’t dress Saturday because of the hand injury he suffered last week against Michigan.

With sophomore Jermelle Lewis at running back, Iowa’s offense came out sluggish, starting the game with two three-and-outs and a punt.

After nearly a half of scratching for everything they could get, the Hawkeyes put it all together on their final drive of the half.

With the score tied at 3-3, Banks found receiver Mo Brown wide open in the end zone for a 21-yard TD with 1 minute, 3 seconds left before halftime.

Iowa ran the play three times during the drive, but this time Brown ran a different route. Three Wisconsin defenders bit on receiver Ed Hinkel. No one was within 15 yards of Brown.

“That was one of those plays where you’re so wide open you worry about dropping it,” said Brown, who caught six passes for 107 yards. “I didn’t want to be that guy.”

On Iowa’s next score, it was tight end Dallas Clark’s turn to be the guy who doesn’t drop a wide-open TD.

The Hawkeyes showed tunnel screen, a play that flummoxed Michigan last week, but Banks pumped and faked a pass into a mass of helmets and jerseys, pulled it back and had either Brown or Clark for an easy TD.

“You don’t want to be the guy who ends up on ESPN for dropping a pass like that,” said Clark, who caught five passes for 97 yards. “That’s not how you want to make ESPN.”

The Hawkeyes made ESPN in so many ways Saturday.

Banks completed 17 of 30 for 275 yards and two TDs. Against eight- and nine-man fronts all day, Lewis chugged for 81 yards on 25 carries. The Hawkeyes outgained Wisconsin, 405-215.

“We missed a lot of stuff today,” said Banks, who rushed for 61 yards before subtracting three sacks. ”We had a slow start, but we caught on fire.”

The highlights from the defense will come with a rating. Way too much violence for youngsters. You’ve been warned.

Mo Brown feature from 2002

Brown keeps making plays

IOWA CITY — The day Mo Brown arrived at the University of Iowa for his recruiting visit the wind chill hit minus-5.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native got a full frontal view of Iowa’s harsh winters.

“He called and said, Dad, it’s minus-5 with the wind chill,” said Victor Brown, Mo’s dad. “That was all he said. And so that kind of suggested to me that he wouldn’t come.

“But as soon as he got back and first thing he said was, ‘I’m going.’”

Saturday, the temperature for Iowa’s game against Wisconsin dropped to 37 degrees. Not quite minus-5, but the coldest day this season.

Once again, the cold didn’t seem to bother Brown. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior wide receiver caught a career-high six passes for 107 yards in Iowa’s 20-3 victory over the Badgers. Brown’s 21-yard TD catch with just more than a minute left in the first half gave Iowa a lead UW never threatened.

“He’s making big plays for us, has all season,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “He’s a mature football player. He’s playing the way you have to play for winning Big Ten football.”

Brown rolled up his fourth 100-yard game this season. He leads the Hawkeyes with 36 catches for 733 yards, which moves him past Ronnie Harmon and into 15th on Iowa’s season-best list.

Quarterback Brad Banks will be the first to tell you he missed his share of plays Saturday. But Brown was so open on his TD grab, there was no way Banks was going to miss.

“We were setting them up all day with the corner routes,” Brown said. “I ran a post and it was there.”

Wisconsin had a breakdown in its coverage. No one was within 15 yards of Brown. He was asked if he was ever that wide open.

“Yeah, on the play that Dallas scored on,” Brown said. “I was even more wide open.”

Iowa had success last week against Michigan with a tunnel screen to wide receiver C.J. Jones. It worked three times, once for a touchdown. Saturday, Banks faked the screen and had his choice between Brown and tight end Dallas Clark for the TD.

“They were open, huh?” Banks said. “I remember telling myself on that play, just get him the ball, just throw a good ball and let him catch it.”

Brown was a mismatch all day for the Badgers’ secondary. His first reception went for 24 yards and converted a third-and-13. His 29-yarder set up Clark’s TD.

“It’s tough for defenders to hold him,” said Banks, whose 20 TD passes this season is third-best at Iowa, behind Chuck Long’s 27 in 1985 and 22 in ‘84. “He’s so big and strong. He can run routes and catch the ball. He’s scary.”

He’s not so big and strong and scary that he doesn’t cry, though.

During his first winter in Iowa, Brown called his dad with tears in his eyes.

“He said he walked outside and the cold hit him in the face and knocked the tears out of his eyes and they froze on his face,” Victor Brown said.

That’s a hazard for the 13 Floridians on Iowa’s roster.

They’re just not ready for the cold. Banks said he called home and told his mom to send coats, sweatshirts and sweaters.

“I remember I came outside and my face was hurting,” Brown said. “It felt like it was going to crack. I just went back inside.

“Couldn’t take it. I dressed for it. I had on a coat, it was just my face. It felt like it was about to crack.”

Let the record show, he made it though a cool fall Saturday just fine.