Props For Ferentz But Questions For Bluder

Chuck Hartlieb's grandmother won't need to play quarterback for Iowa's football team next fall, but Outland Trophy and Lombardi Award candidate Robert Gallery and others will open some holes for the Hawkeyes. Meanwhile, questions abound for where the women's program is going under Lisa Bluder.

Iowa City, Ia.--No one appreciates an offensive line more than former Iowa quarterback Chuck Hartlieb.

After all, Hartlieb knows that a quarterback is only as strong as the big guys in front of him.

"With that offensive line Iowa had last season, the quarterback could have been my grandmother, and the team might have won seven or eight games," Hartlieb said to emphasize his point.

Instead, with Brad Banks and not Hartlieb's grandmother at quarterback, the Hawkeyes won a school-record 11 games, lost only two, tied for the Big Ten championship and finished No. 8 in the final polls.

Hartlieb passed for 3,092 yards in 1987 and 3,738 in 1988. He ranks behind only Chuck Long on the Hawkeyes' career passing list with 6,934 yards.

Hartlieb, now a financial consultant in Des Moines, follows Coach Kirk Ferentz's Iowa football program closely. And, with spring practice under way, he's already looking forward to the 2003 season.

Speaking of the Hawkeyes' offensive line….. "Robert Gallery will probably be the favorite to win the Outland Trophy," Hartlieb said of the 6-7, 317-pound offensive left tackle from Masonville, Ia.

Add the Lombardi Award to that, too. Gallery figures to be among the leaders for that prize at the conclusion of the season.

The Outland Trophy is awarded to the nation's top interior lineman, and was won by two Iowa players on Coach Forest Evashevski's teams in the 1950s—Calvin Jones in 1955 and Alex Karras in 1957.

The Lombardi Award is given to the nation's top Division I lineman or linebacker.

Gallery was projected to be a high pick in the NFL draft that will be held next month, but chose to play his senior season for Iowa. Had Ferentz taken an NFL coaching job, Gallery might have opted to make an early entrance into professional football.

Gallery will anchor an offensive line next fall that is being rebuilt. Eric Steinbach, Bruce Nelson, Andy Lightfoot, David Porter and Gallery started all 13 games last season, and only Gallery is back. Also gone is Ben Sobieski, the No. 1 reserve.

"But Ferentz is always going to have a good offensive line because of his background," said Ed Podolak, the former Iowa and Kansas City Chiefs standout who has been the radio analyst for Hawkeye games the past 21 years.

Ferentz was Iowa's offensive line coach from 1981-1989, and obviously he pays close attention to it now as the head coach. Reece Morgan is the Hawkeyes' new offensive line coach after the departure of Joe Philbin to the Green Bay Packers' staff.

By the way, this is a busy time for Gallery. Not only is spring football going on, Ferentz pointed out that he's involved with student teaching now.

"He's in elementary education," Ferentz said. "It seems we have big guys who go into elementary education."

Whether Gallery will need to worry about actually becoming an elementary school teacher remains to be seen. Count on it that he's going to be making lots of money after the 2004 NFL draft.

Like former Iowa coach Hayden Fry used to say, a lot of guys will be coming up to Gallery, asking for loans.

The Orange Bowl That Turned Sour

The Orange Bowl isn't something Ferentz particularly likes to look back at, but obviously the memory of it will never go away.

After a 47-day layoff between its final regular-season game at Minnesota and the Orange Bowl, Iowa was overwhelmed by Southern California, 38-17.

In a way, Ferentz thought he was seeing a re-run while watching the Super Bowl, won by Tampa Bay over Oakland, 48-21, at home more than three weeks after the Orange Bowl.

"I was sitting on the couch watching the Super Bowl with my wife," Ferentz said. "About 30 minutes after I had the thought, she verbalized what I'd been thinking. She said, ‘You know, this game looks a lot like the Orange Bowl.'

"And it really did. There were a lot of parallels. I think all of us would agree that Oakland had a pretty good football team this past year, but that night they were totally out of synch, as we were in the Orange Bowl. We just were not sharp.

"We've picked our brains as a staff. We've asked, ‘What could we have done differently?' I'm not so sure what we could have done differently. It's always a tough dilemma. Our routine didn't change a heck of a lot from the year before when we were pretty successful in getting ready for the Alamo Bowl (the Hawkeyes beat Texas Tech, 19-16).

"But we finished a week early in the Big Ten schedule this past season. Maybe that was a factor. The bottom line was we just didn't get it done (in Miami). The tough part was we didn't look like us that night. That's always disturbing."

Podolak clearly thinks the time between the Minnesota and Southern California games was costly for Iowa.

"There's no way you can take a layoff that long and expect to play well," Podolak said. "USC's layoff was three weeks shorter, and I think that showed in conditioning. It certainly showed with Brad Banks. He had been flying all over the country, and just wasn't in synch in the Orange Bowl."

Banks led the nation in passing efficiency, finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting and won the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's top quarterback.

"I still think the teams were pretty evenly matched, and that was evident at halftime," Podolak said. "Iowa just ran out of gas. You can get in shape, but you can't get in game shape without playing. And that kid at quarterback for USC (Carson Palmer) had a world class game."

Gary Dolphin, Iowa's play-by-play announcer, shared Podolak's belief that the layoff proved to be a negative for the Hawkeyes.

"Give USC credit for its quickness on defense and its skilled athletes, but I promise you if that game had been played in late November or early December it would have been much different," Dolphin said.

Podolak said Iowa will be in good shape in the upcoming season "if somebody steps up and does a decent job at quarterback. They're pretty well put together everywhere else."

The quarterback job is Nathan Chandler's to lose. Chandler, who played sparingly as Banks' backup last season, will get plenty of competition from the likes of youngsters Jason Manson, Cy Phillips and Matt Bohnet.

Ferentz might even use multiple quarterbacks. "It's a possibility," he said. "We'll keep an open mind to any scenario. But we won't do it just to be doing it."

Fry ‘Flipped His Golf Cart'

Ferentz said he talked with Hayden Fry by telephone after the man who was Iowa's coach from 1979-1998 was named to the College Football Hall of Fame earlier this week.

"He said he flipped his golf cart when he found out about it," Ferentz said. "That's one of the highest honors anyone can get who does what we do. And I think it's got to be special for him that Jerry Levias was also named to the Hall at the same time. That makes it even better."

Levias played for Fry at Southern Methodist. He was the first black player in the Southwest Conference.

Ferentz said Fry "took three jobs (at SMU, North Texas State and Iowa) that would have been considered tough ones, and did great at all three places."

Not Prime Time Stuff

The women's NIT basketball tournament is not prime time stuff. For that matter, neither is the men's NIT.

Now I'm starting to wonder about the women's program at Iowa. It doesn't seem very prime time, either.

The Hawkeyes drew gatherings, I can't call ‘em crowds, of 2,165, 2,445 and 2,617 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for their three women's NIT games.

Those figures are much too small for a Big Ten university that prides itself in strongly supporting its athletic teams.

The numbers were embarrassing for two reasons. Coach Lisa Bluder kept saying she was hoping for a "full house" during the time the tournament was being played, and the NIT kept awarding Iowa home games despite the sparse turnouts.

Someone at Iowa needs to take a long, hard look at what it's going to take to make basketball the major women's sport it is at other places.

Sure, the men drew only 2,761 for their opening NIT game against Valparaiso, but fans received little advance notice that there would be a game that night. At least the next home game, which turned out to be the season finale, drew 9,038.

Ron Maly
Vol. 3, No. 20
March 29, 2003
Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]


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