Hawkeyes Fired Up By Fiery Roth

Video interview with M. Roth

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The calm at Friday’s final walk-through for the University of Iowa football team before Saturday’s Iowa Corn Cy-Hawk Series game against Iowa State turned fiery when honorary Matt Roth took the floor.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Roth is one of the toughest, most-fiery, student-athletes to play for head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Roth, a defensive end from 2001-04, earned second-team All-America honors as a senior, while helping the Hawkeyes claim a share of the Big Ten Conference championship. He was drafted in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins.

“It means a lot to me because I respect Kirk and the staff, and to come back and be able to share this with my family and the coaching staff, and the players means a lot to me,” Roth said of being selected as honorary captain.

A native of Villa Park, Ill., Roth played seven professional seasons with Miami, Cleveland and Jacksonville, playing both defensive end and linebacker. This is the first time he has returned for a game in Kinnick Stadium since his final contest as a player on Nov. 20, 2004 — a 30-7 win against No. 9 Wisconsin.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying the whole experience,” Roth said. “I want to take it in, hopefully with a victory. I know the guys are ready, they’re going to play hard and embrace the whole journey.”

It will be easier for Roth to attend Hawkeye football games this season. For one, he has retired from the NFL; secondly, he has returned to the UI to finish his degree in health and sports studies.

“I didn’t finish my degree when I was here; I’ve been given the opportunity to come back and pursue that degree,” Roth said. “That means a lot to me and it means a lot to my family. It will be a nice accomplishment when I do it.”

Roth finished his career with two wins in a row against Iowa State — 40-21 in 2003 in Ames and 17-10 in 2004 in Iowa City. He doesn’t have an itch to return to the playing field Saturday in a 1920s throwback uniform.

“Maybe for a play, then that’s about it,” he joked. I’m content to being a fan.”

And an impressive motivational speaker.