Staying in the Moment

Sept. 17, 2011

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Two weeks ago, University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz invited a famous former Hawkeye quarterback who wore No. 7 (Brad Banks) to be honorary captain. The result was a 34-7 win over Tennessee Tech.

This week Ferentz invited another famous former Hawkeye quarterback who wore No. 7 (Matt Rodgers) to be honorary captain for the Pittsburgh game that kicks off at 11 a.m. inside Kinnick Stadium.

Rodgers told the Hawkeyes to stay in the moment, following a brief walk-through Friday at the Kenyon Football Practice Facility.

“When you find yourself getting too far ahead in the game or thinking too far ahead at an opponent, you get out of rhythm with what you’re doing,” Rodgers said. “The same thing if you keep looking in the rearview mirror and you’re still thinking about a bad play.

“The most comfortable place to me always seemed to be focusing as hard as I could on what I was doing out there and the action slowed down and you get to the point that it becomes easy.”

Rodgers earned letters for the Hawkeyes from 1988-91. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 1990 when he led Iowa to an 8-4 record and berth in the Rose Bowl. As a senior, the Hawkeyes finished 10-1-1. His junior season (1990) sticks out.

“We had an unbelievable offensive line, Nick Bell, Tony Stewart, the defense was unbelievable,” Rodgers said.

A highlight was defeating Michigan, 24-23, on Oct. 20, 1990, in game where the Wolverines were 13-point favorites at their Homecoming in Ann Arbor.

“That was pretty satisfying, and that last (scoring) drive of 85 yards without a third down in the drive,” Rodgers recalls.

Rodgers completed 5-of-6 passes for 67 yards on the drive. A 12-yard completion to Stewart took the ball to Michigan’s 1-yard line, before Paul Kujawa plunged into end zone with the game-winning touchdown.

“I threw to five different receivers and had all day to throw,” Rodgers said. “That was a special moment.”

The UI has thrived, and continues to thrive, with some assistance from the Rodgers family tree. Jimmy, Matt’s father, lettered in basketball for the Hawkeyes from 1963-65. He went on to a long career in the NBA, serving as head coach for the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Jimmy Rodgers served on coaching staffs that won six NBA Championships — three with the Celtics and three with the Chicago Bulls.

Matt’s son, Kyle, is a freshman at the UI and is first trumpet in the band.

“He played football in high school, but he really gravitated toward music,” Matt Rodgers said. “I told him to do what he loved and made sure that if he is going to do something to do it to the best of his ability and have fun with it. He did take it to the next level which is playing for Iowa and it’s really amazing.”

Rodgers works as a financial advisor in Naples, Fla.