Chuck Hartlieb is one of the all time greats in Iowa Football history. Before I got to know him through our interviews over the past three years, he was my favorite quarterback to ever don the black and gold, and I got into more than a few debates with Iowa fans due to my opinion that he was the best passer of the Hayden Fry era.
Hartlieb was also on the throwing end of one of the greatest plays in Iowa football history, at Columbus when he found Marv Cook on fourth down with time running out at the Shoe.
Hartlieb watch Iowa's Capital One Bowl win with his family in Des Moines, and that is where we begin the final installment of ‘Monday Morning Quarterback' for the 2004 football season.
JON MILLER: Chuck, I don't know how to say this, so I will just say it. I think Hartlieb to Cook just got knocked down one peg in Hawkeye history.
CHUCK HARTLIEB: I certainly think it has. It (Tate to Holloway) was miraculous in a lot of different ways. I am real happy for the Hawkeye fans and the team. It's a team with a lot of character and a lot of heart; it's a team that should get rewarded. Because of the venue and the exact situation, it certainly was the best passing play to finish a game.
I might argue that the greatest play of the Fry and Ferentz era, because it was #1 vs. #2 would still be Houghtlin's kick (against Michigan in 1985). There was a little bit more on the line, as we were still thinking National Championship and Iowa wound up being the sole Big Ten champs.
But what was accomplished on Saturday has to be one or two.
JM: Earlier this year, you told us how you sent Drew Tate a note, telling him that he was going to break the records that you and Chuck Long put up back in the 1980's. I wondered if you were falling into the trap of hyperbole a bit. Imagine that, me saying that someone was falling for hyperbole (laughs). But you were right, and that I the last time that I will question anything you say, because Tate has some magic in him.
CH: I have critiqued quarterbacks for the last 20 years. I am right sometimes and I am wrong sometimes, but I think I have a pretty good feel for not just the fundamentals of a quarterback, but also the intangibles. Pretty quickly you could see the whole package for Drew Tate.
People around Des Moines ask me my thoughts and opinions from time to time, and I would love to give a contrary viewpoint just to play Devil's Advocate, but I think he is the complete package, he has all of the abilities in the world to not only succeed at the college level, but I think he is the type of guy who can play in the NFL for eight to ten years.
I think there are small differences between a kid that is 6-feet tall and a kid that is 6-2. It's nice to have a Carson Palmer who is 6-4 or 6-5, or a Peyton Manning, but there are plenty of quarterbacks in the NFL who are shorter than that.
I think the only thing we have to worry about now is that Drew doesn't leave after his junior year.
CH: I think there is a slight chance of that, because I think the way he plays can be very Drew Brees-like in the NFL, and I think he has a better arm than Drew Brees.
JM: Will Brees' emergence this year help Tate come whatever NFL draft he is in? Some people questioned San Diego's drafting of Brees, saying he was not tall enough and did not fit the cookie cutter NFL QB sterotype. After last year, NFL people felt that he was not going to get it done, but he led his team to the AFC West crown this year.
CH:That does help, and that is a very good point. There are plenty of situations out there…Rex Grossman and Tom Brady; guys who don't fit a cookie cutter, as you say, I think are going to get a lot of respect and they should. They are the playmakers. Billy Voleck at Tennessee has earned a spot for the next 10 years. He is a playmaker and he belongs in the league.
Tate has some unique intangibles that are tough to find, from the headiness to the footwork, his leadership; he is a special kid.
The only negative I can think of is that it's tiresome to talk about him after a while (laughs).
JM: Take me through the last 50 seconds of the Cap One bowl, as you saw it. Were you like me, feeling that Iowa had very little chance to win it after LSU scored?
CH: I honestly thought we had a 50 percent chance to hit a field goal. I felt the way this team has performed this year, we had a chance. After the kickoff return, there were two great plays. There was no rush; you wanted to get 10 or 15 yards at a crack. You figure you had five plays, with the two time outs and the clock stopping on first down. I say that is five plays easy, with two timeouts, and maybe six or seven. So that is just four 10 to 20 yard passes, and they have to worry about protecting the deep pass.
Right off the bat, you get 20 yards on two plays, you are at midfield, and you are at around 30 seconds with two timeouts, so you have three plays left.
We don't have to spend too much time on it, but you know they wish they could have changed some things in the management of the clock. Like Kirk said, it is moot now.
I think and interesting question would be is if Ken O'Keefe or Tate called that play in the huddle. Was that from the sidelines or the huddle? NOTE: I don't know the answer to this, as Tate said in the post game that the refs told them the clock was running right when they broke the huddle, so I don't know if Tate audibled on the fly to the line of scrimmage or if it was called in the huddle
To me, it looked like they had three streaks going down the right side, with Solomon on the opposite side. That is a good Hail Mary play to call, to try and get one guy to break the coverage. The outside safety or corner needs to concentrate on Hinkel, but the middle safety needs to play the mid-point of the two other streaks, and instead, he jumped Chandler, and the player on Holloway at the start, he pulled up and played something of a zone in the flat. That could have been a typical three deep, strong safety in the flat coverage that is called a cover three. The strong safety has flat coverage against trips, which is pretty common.
But still, that free safety is responsible for both streaks. The people that messed up were the defensive coordinator calling that coverage, and that free safety who needs to cover both streaks (on the inside, which were Holloway and Chandler) and get greater depth and center up. He was flat over Chandler. He completely screwed up.
Everything that Tate did and Holloway did was perfect. It would have a low success rate on average, but there was just great execution.
It was interesting that there was Saban mismanaging the clock on their last drive. They didn't need to spike that on first down, and they could have wound the clock down more, and then Iowa didn't do the best job of managing the clock on our drive. How it ended was just miraculous.
JM: This season, to finish 10-2 given all the adversity they had to overcome, not that the Iowa coaches needed any more validation, but this staff is just remarkable, is it not?
CH:The greatest quality I see is just their ability to bring out the best character in their players. It was a game that really showed the completeness of their preparation. I felt like they had everyone on the same page.
We assume too much that special teams is a foregone conclusion with these coaches and players, but they played a great game there. We followed our defensive strategy, we tackled well for the most part and I felt we blocked well offensively. That was one of the best defenses in the nation, and it was perhaps the best defense we played to date.
This staff is unreal, and that goes beyond the X's and O's. How much they get out of their players is a real credit to Coach Ferentz and each and every staff member. You cannot take for granted the 110 percent that you get from these guys week in and week out.
Look at Oklahoma last night in a National Title venue. I saw five or six busts that were clearly poor coaching or poor player decisions that we did not see at all in the Capital One Bowl. I say that with no disrespect to the Oklahoma staff, as they do a great job, too. But something was missing there, and it was not missing in Orlando for Iowa.
JM: You were on one end of one of the biggest plays in the history of Iowa football…tell me about the differences of playing on that play, and watching the Tate to Holloway play, and the different emotions you had.
CH:Not to be too dramatic, but I am thankful for what the big guy upstairs has given me years ago from an excitement standpoint. Personally, living it once for a period of time far surpasses anything I watch on TV. When I see a play like that or get involved from a fan standpoint, I immediately think about happy I am that my kids are involved and loving what they are watching, and I am so happy for the Iowa fans.
I have talked to a lot of former players about this; there is not a lot of emotion when you are watching. I was jacked and pumped and felt great, but it does not come close to being in the game. I had that experience, and I wish that everyone could have that experience.
My emotion comes from knowing how great of a fan base we have, and knowing how much that raises up their spirits. I have four little kids who are among that fan base, and they were going nuts for a half an hour and I love seeing the joy in their eyes. That is how I view it. We have the greatest fans in the world, and when something like this happens, they are all so deserving because of the great support they give to their Hawkeyes.
JM: To close, what does next year hold for this team? They have some questions on the defensive line to replace some pretty special players. Can they do it, and if they can, what can they accomplish?
CH:Facing the next eight months goes back to the same thing we talked about to start this season; it gets tougher every year, it does not get easier.
The general approach that the players take, it's human nature to have a let down because of the success they had the previous year. Each year, the staff has a bigger job ahead of them to just get the best out of the kids.
It's difficult to reach deep each and every year and meet your potential, and then you have more teams spending more time on you in the off season as to how to stop the Hawkeyes. So it gets tougher for next year.
Obviously the defensive line is a major concern, but they don't have to be as good as they were this year, next year.
You still need to bring those guys along fast, and the others will have to step it up. There will be much more pressure on Greenway and Hodge. The secondary will have to play a bigger role in run support next year, because the defensive line took care of that this year.
There are plenty of issues, but none that can't be addressed, because they have great talent on both sides of the ball. I think they are going to have another great year next year.
I would like to thank Chuck Hartlieb for his time this year and through the years. He has provided amazing analysis for the Hawkeye Nation, and our readers tell me all of the time that his time with us each week during football season is their favorite feature we publish.