I've got news for those of you who think laid-back Brad Banks never thinks about the Heisman Trophy.
The Iowa quarterback has been doing the "Heisman pose" since he was a little kid.
"I was 8 when I first did it," Banks confessed.
"Do you do a pretty good Heisman pose?" I asked the Hawkeye senior from Belle Glade, Fla.
"It's all right, it's not bad," he said. Banks explained that he and other youngsters would do the pose when they'd play football in their neighborhood.
"We'd do the pose when we scored a touchdown," he explained.
The subject came up because Banks is a legitimate candidate for the Heisman Trophy—the award given to the best player in collegiate football—right now.
He'll be able to improve his credentials with a strong performance in an 11:05 a.m. game Saturday against Minnesota in Iowa's regular-season windup at the Metrodome.
Banks has come out of nowhere to be the offensive master of a Hawkeye team that leads the Big Ten with a 7-0 record and is 10-1 overall. He has led the nation in passing efficiency for seven consecutive weeks and ranks first in the Big Ten in total offense with a 237.9-yard average.
After completing all 10 passes he attempted in last week's 62-10 victory over Northwestern, the 200-pound senior was named the Big Ten's offensive player of the week for the third time this season. He's the first player ever to win the conference's offensive honor three times in a season.
Tim Dwight of Iowa earned the special teams player of the week three times and was the offensive player of the week once during the 1997 season.
In addition to being a Heisman contender, Banks is a finalist for the Walter Camp national player of the year prize, and he (along with Seneca Wallace of Iowa State) is a finalist for the Davey O'Brien national quarterback award.
Banks admits he has practiced the Heisman pose occasionally in a joking manner around his teammates. But he couldn't be talked into doing it for reporters.
"My leg is stiff right now," he said with a laugh, "so I won't be able to do it."
Don't fret, Hawkeye fans. Banks' leg isn't so stiff that he won't be able to run Iowa's offensive show Saturday.
Heck, he might have been kidding about the stiff leg anyway.
The Heisman pose isn't the only thing Banks is well aware of as the collegiate season winds down. He also knows all about Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig that has had a home in Iowa City the past year.
Floyd is the prize that's been awarded to the winner of the Iowa-Minnesota game since 1935.
"I just went in to see Floyd," Banks said earlier in the week in Iowa City.
"Was Floyd doing the Heisman pose?" I asked him.
"No, he wasn't doing the pose," Banks answered. I guess it'll be left to Brad to handle that.
Ferentz: Give Banks Consideration
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, another laid-back guy, hasn't said much all season about Banks and the Heisman.
But he may be warming to the occasion now.
"That (Heisman topic) is going to play itself out," Ferentz said. "I'm not going to do anything to put water on that campaign.
"Look at the numbers. He'd be a legitimate candidate. I read the papers and I think you have to give Brad consideration. If we can finish up well, and if Brad can finish up well, it will enhance his chances."
Iowa Fans Root for Beutjer, Illinois
Isn't it ironic?
Iowa and Ohio State are up there atop the Big Ten standings, and look who has a chance to torpedo the Buckeyes' title chances Saturday.
None other than Jon Beutjer, the former Iowa quarterback who now starts for Illinois.
Ohio State is an 8-point favorite.
I'm not buying it. I think Illinois is going to win.
By the way, Iowa is favored by 10 ½ points over Minnesota. I am buying that one.
Hurt, But Not Injured
Sure, Iowa had its Ironmen in 1939.
Certainly no one on the Hawkeyes' 2002 team is going to cast any shadows on Nile Kinnick, Al Couppee and the rest of that team. It was a special group. But Iowa has its own Ironman now.
He's center Bruce Nelson, the one-time non-scholarship player from Emmetsburg who will start his 47th consecutive game Saturday.
"I feel very fortunate," Nelson said of his streak. "I've been flat-out lucky."
By lucky, Nelson means he's never had a physical problem that has kept him out of the lineup.
"I think if you're injured, you don't play," he said. "If you're hurt, you play. I think we've all been hurt as football players, but I don't have anything major to talk about.
"There's been a sore back, a deep thigh bruise; those kinds of things. But you just gut it out."
Vol. 2, No. 100
Nov. 14, 2002
[Ron Maly's e-mail address is email@example.com ]