Nov. 14, 2003
They love their Hawkeyes … and that’s why more than 500 friends and fans of Coach Kirk Ferentz’s nationally ranked squad filled to capacity and beyond the ballroom of the Sheraton Iowa City this morning for the final Johnson County I-Club Breakfast of the 2003 season.
And there was no wonder why: It was an opportunity to salute this year’s senior class.
“Every class is special, kind of like your children at home,” an emotional Ferentz said at the top of his presentation.
“This group includes fifth year guys that went 1-10 and four-year guys who were 3-9. They pushed through the hardships and enjoyed an 8-0 Big Ten season a year ago and have had a major impact on this year’s team.
Fans of the Hawkeyes attending Saturday’s Iowa-Minnesota game are reminded to arrive at their seats inside Kinnick Stadium early to enjoy the Veterans Day and Seniors Day pre-game activities.
“In addition to getting it done on the field,” Ferentz added. “These guys continued our tradition of being outstanding ambassadors for our university and our intercollegiate athletics program. And, I might add, each is on track for graduation. They’ve done it in the classroom, too.”
Ferentz and his staff – all of which were also in attendance in honor of the senior class – have reason to be proud of this group. To a person, they’ve achieved. And, yes, some have been recognized more than others and included among that group is senior offensive lineman Robert Gallery, who was presented the Stewart Gray Memorial Scholarship in honor of the former UI College of Education faculty member who passed away in 1983.
“I’d like to thank the Gray family for this honor. It’s humbling and one I will cherish. I also want to thank the Johnson County I-Club for the 5:30 wake-up call,” Gallery said during one of the morning’s lighter moments.
This week’s event was emceed by Gary Dolphin, the radio voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes, who was struck with the Hall of Fame list of emcees.
“Skorton, Fry, the first lady of Iowa Football, Mary Ferentz, and Podolak,” Dolphin said. “That’s quite a list. It’s also quite an accomplishment to get Eddie here at this time of day.
“I can assure you that he was coming in, not going out,” Dolphin added about his radio partner. “He’s the only guy I know that goes pheasant hunting at 3 in the morning!”
In keeping with the spirit of the day – the saluting of seniors – Ferentz also offered words of appreciation to the senior members of the UI Marching Band and spirit squads, the training, equipment and video staff for football, and another, more behind the scenes, “member of the staff,” custodian Gary Stock.
“Gary is very indicative of the commitment of all our staff. His contribution to the Iowa Football program does not go unnoticed by our staff, our visitors, our student-athletes. Gary, thank you,” Ferentz said of Stock, who was also in attendance.
“In addition to getting it done on the field, these guys continued our tradition of being outstanding ambassadors for our university and our intercollegiate athletics program. And, I might add, each is on track for graduation. They’ve done it in the classroom, too.”
Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz
With respect to Saturday’s game, Ferentz said Minnesota is the real deal.
“They’ve grown a lot since we last played them. They’re obviously a strong football team that has earned its 9-2 record,” he said.
Ferentz said Minnesota took full advantage of the month of December 2002 and used that extra time to eventually win their bowl game and build momentum that carried with the program through the spring and summer, and into the 2003 season.
“We have a great challenge tomorrow at Kinnick because we’re playing a very, very good football team,” Ferentz added.
Ferentz said seniors Gallery, Maurice Brown, Bob Sanders and Nate Kaeding will be team captains tomorrow. That group will be joined by honorary captain John Alt, a Minnesota native who was a three-year letterman at Iowa before enjoying a brilliant and long NFL career with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Ferentz closed his presentation with a final salute to his senior class and some “words of wisdom” for fans of the Hawkeyes.
“We ask a lot of these young men and they make great sacrifices. They’ve paid the price. And, for the record, there’s lots of football left to be played. We’ll see you tomorrow in Kinnick,” Ferentz said.