Brad Banks is The Man

After a season as Kyle McCann's backup, Brad Banks has stepped front and center as Iowa's starting quarterback. Columnist Ron Maly says Banks is up to the task and ready to guide the Hawkeyes to an 8-4 season and a second consecutive bowl game.

Iowa City, IA - When Brad Banks was playing Little League football in Florida, his coach suddenly told him, "Go in there and play quarterback.''

He did, and he's been doing it most of the time since.

And he's been doing it pretty well, too. The way Banks looks at it, it was nice to be picked out to be a Little League quarterback, but that wasn't the important thing.

"I just wanted to play football,'' he explained. "I didn't care if I played offensive guard.''

But forget that offensive guard stuff.

Banks, a 6-foot 1-inch, 200-pound senior from Belle Glade, Fla., will be the starting quarterback Aug. 31 when Iowa opens its season against Akron at Kinnick Stadium.

It will be then that he steps into the pressure cooker. Playing quarterback at Iowa and most other NCAA Division I-A schools brings with it a heavy amount of expectation from coaches and fans.

Banks saw it first-hand last season. He was the backup to Kyle McCann, who then was the Hawkeyes' quarterback starter. Banks heard the outcry in Kinnick Stadium. He heard people, who were dressed in black and gold, booing.

Maybe they were booing McCann. Maybe they were booing Coach Kirk Ferentz for using McCann instead of Banks against Michigan. Maybe they were booing both McCann and Ferentz.

Whatever, it was an ugly situation on an afternoon when the Hawkeyes narrowly missed upsetting the Wolverines.

But Iowa got through it. McCann rose above the booing and helped Iowa to a 7-5 record that included a 19-16 victory over Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl.

"It was kind of tough for Kyle to put with stuff like that booing,'' Banks said. "We were all Hawkeyes.''

Because of the fans' displeasure with McCann, Banks became a crowd favorite in 2001, and wound up his junior season with 41 pass completions in 68 attempts for 582 yards and four touchdowns. He ran 41 times for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

Banks indicated he won't try to do anything differently to remain in good standing with the fans.

"I don't even think about it,'' he said. "I just want to play football. It's a challenge, and I love challenges.''

Even though he became the clear-cut starter in spring practice, Banks is the first to admit he's often not recognized as Iowa's No. 1 quarterback when he's walking around the campus.

"Not being noticed doesn't matter to me,'' he said.

He also said it doesn't have any impact on him that he's Iowa's first black starting quarterback since Pete Gales, who lettered from 1978-1981.

Banks came to Iowa from Hinds Community College after originally enrolling at Central Florida.

As he patiently answered reporters' questions on a hot afternoon at Iowa's media day, he talked about how different it was from his days at Hinds. In Iowa City, Banks was surrounded by 15 reporters, some armed with huge TV cameras, others trying to get a handle on the guy who will direct the Hawkeyes' offense.

"I kind of like this attention,'' he admitted.

Banks said the things you'd expect him to say. He said he had team goals, not personal goals. He said making it to the Rose Bowl is the main goal. He said the quarterback can only do so much on any team On the Benny Sapp situation, he said Ferentz made a decision to kick him off the team "and now we've got to move on.'' As far as I'm concerned, Banks seems fully capable of directing the Hawkeyes to an 8-4 record and a second consecutive bowl game.

Here & There

There are plenty of tickets left for most of Iowa's home games. About 20,000 remain for the Akron and Utah State games, 15,000 remain for the Purdue, Michigan State and Northwestern games, and 12,000 are left for the Wisconsin game. Single-game sales for the Iowa State game Sept. 14 have been suspended. The only way to get a ticket to the game against the Cyclones is to buy a season ticket...Almost 39,000 season tickets have been sold. That's an increase of more than 1,000 over last year....Iowa has a series against Arizona State starting in 2003. Arizona State plays at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 20, 2003, and the Hawkeyes are at Arizona State on Sept. 18, 2004. Iowa opens its 2005 season against Missouri at Kinnick Stadium, and plays at Missouri in 2006....At his media day press conference, Ferentz coolly answered a string of questions from a Waterloo TV reporter, who obviously had an agenda. The reporter kept peppering Ferentz with questions regarding Benny Sapp. At one stage, Ferentz referred to the reporter as "my friend in the back of the room.'' He was using the word "friend'' loosely. Ferentz was more patient with the guy than most coaches would have been. For instance, former Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry, after the third or fourth question, likely would have told the guy where he could shove his TV camera...."There are probably more players with Iowa ties on the Dallas Cowboys' training camp roster than any other NFL team,'' says Mike Mahon, sports information director at Drake. In addition to former Drake kicker Billy Cundiff, the Cowboys' roster includes wide receiver Beshir Yamini of Iowa and defensive end Kevin DeRonde and running back Ennis Haywood of Iowa State....I hear that Jim Walden, who quit this week as Larry Cotlar's broadcast partner on KXNO, is building a home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho—a resort community across the border from Spokane, Wash....Walden, Iowa State's football coach from 1987-1994, has been doing commentary on Washington State broadcasts, and his daughter sells advertising for the Washington State Radio Network.

Ron Maly

Vol. 2, No. 45

Aug. 10, 2002

[Ron Maly's e-mail address is ]

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