It's Time to Retire Long's No. 16 Jersey

<b>(*This is an HTO TheInsiders Club FREE Preview column.*)</b><p> Considering all of his individual and team accomplishments in the "glory days" of the 1980s, it seems appropriate to me to retire Long's jersey number. I have no idea what the argument against this would be.

It's been over 17 years since Chuck Long last wore a Hawkeye uniform. The final game the greatest Iowa quarterback of all time played in was the Rose Bowl. Following a 45-28 loss to UCLA on January 1, 1986, Long took off his No. 16 Iowa jersey for the final time.

In my opinion, that was the last time ANY Hawkeye football player should have worn that number.

Apparently, someone disagrees. And I'm not sure why.

Long remains one of the greatest Hawkeye legends -- in any sport -- that the University of Iowa athletic department has ever known. He was a tremendous leader who helped put Hawkeye football back on the national map, even leading Iowa to a No. 1 national ranking for a few weeks during his senior season in 1985.

Long's individual accomplishments include:

  • He appeared in an NCAA-record FIVE bowl games (due to an obscure redshirt rule).
  • In 1985, he finished second to Bo Jackson for the Heisman Trophy in the closest vote in the award's history.
  • He was a consensus All-American in 1985.
  • Long was All-Big Ten in 1983, 1984 and 1985.
  • He was named the Big Ten's MVP in 1985.
  • Team captain in 1985.
  • 782 career completions, an Iowa record.
  • 1,203 career passing attempts, an Iowa record.
  • 67.1% completion percentage in a season (1984), an Iowa record.
  • 65.0% career completion percentage, a Big Ten record.
  • 10,461 career passing yards, an Iowa record.
  • The first Big Ten quarterback to reach 10,000 career passing yards.
  • 27 passing touchdowns in a season (1985), an Iowa record.
  • 74 career passing touchdowns, an Iowa record.
  • 10,254 yards of total offense in his career, an Iowa record.
  • During his career (1981-85), the Hawks had a 43-17-1 overall record (70.5%).
  • During his career, the Hawks had a Big Ten record of 31-10-1 (73.8%).
  • He guided Iowa to some of its greatest clutch drives and performances in its history, included game-winning scores at the end of the 1985 games versus Michigan State and Michigan.
  • Long completed 22 passes in a row in one game in 1984 against Indiana, which is a Big Ten record.
  • He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • Long won the Maxwell Award as the nation's top player in 1985.
  • He won the Davey O'Brien Award as the country's best quarterback in 1985.

    Pretty impressive, huh?

    So, what's the deal? Does Iowa have too many jersey numbers retired already?

    No. There have only been TWO football jersey numbers retired in Hawkeye history: No. 24, which was worn by Nile Kinnick and No. 62, which was worn by Cal Jones. Kinnick, of course, won the Heisman Trophy in 1939. Jones was a three-time All-Big Ten guard, who won the Outland Trophy in 1955.

    Kinnick died in a plane crash during World War II in 1943, while Jones died in a plane crash in Canada in 1956.

    Today, Long is the Offensive Coordinator for the Oklahoma Sooners and is considered one of the top offensive assistant coaches in college football. It is only a matter of time before he is a Division IA head coach.

    Considering all of his individual and team accomplishments in the "glory days" of the 1980s, it seems appropriate to me to retire Long's jersey number. I have no idea what the argument against this would be.

    Taking nothing away from the likes of Deven Harberts, Paul Burmeister and Jason Manson, it just doesn't seem right to watch someone else wear No. 16 for the Hawkeyes.

    (Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com. You can e-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)


  • Hawkeye Insider Top Stories