It's No Joke, Banks is a Hall of Famer

Aug 29, 2013

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Former University of Iowa quarterback Brad Banks wasn’t sure if it was real or if he was getting “punked” when he received word of his inclusion in the 2013 National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame.

“It threw me a little bit,” said Banks. “I didn’t know if it was a prank. When I got off the phone and realized they weren’t kidding, I was like `Wow, this is a cool deal.”

Banks is one of six individuals that will be inducted Aug. 30 along with Sam Bailie (men’s gymnastics), Craig Clemons (football), Jennifer Brower-McNutt (track and field/cross country), Franthea Price (women’s basketball), and former UI women’s golf coach Diane Thomason.

“To know I am going into the University of Iowa Hall of Fame, where there is a long list of great athletes, and I am a part of it, is truly an honor,” said Banks. “I am privileged and amazed, and to know that all the hard work paid off is a blessing.”

Banks is a Hall of Famer based on a magical 13-game Hawkeye career.

“This honor is special because it is where it started for me. When I got to the University of Iowa, I was given the opportunity to play. That’s when things jumped off the map for me, and we put Iowa on the map and made it a household name again.”
Former Hawkeye quarterback Brad Banks

Banks joined the Hawkeyes in 2001 following a two-year stint at Hinds (Miss.) Junior College. During his first season, he served as back-up to Kyle McCann, finishing the 2001 campaign 41-of-68 for 582 yards.

When handed the reins to the Iowa offense in 2002, Banks didn’t disappoint. Following season-opening wins over Akron and Miami (Ohio) in his first two starts, the Hawkeyes had their only blemish of the regular season — a 31-27 loss to Iowa State inside Kinnick Stadium.

The setback showed the character of the team.

“Everybody that played that game, even guys on the sidelines, felt accountability,” he said. “That was special about our team that year, everybody felt accountable about what their job was and what we were trying to do.

“There were no fingers pointed, everybody felt like it was their fault. That was the type of character and team we had. That was rare to see.”

Banks says the Iowa State loss was a turning point.

“Moving forward, guys made up their mind that we were not going to feel that way again, we were not going to let that happen,” he said. “That’s what triggered us having a successful season.”

Iowa rebounded with a 42-35 overtime victory over Penn State the following week, but it was 31-28 win over Purdue on Oct. 5 that stands out in Banks’ mind as one of his most memorable Iowa moments.

Trailing 28-24 with 2:16 remaining and no timeouts, Banks engineered an 87-yard scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Clark on fourth-and-goal with 1:07 left.

When Banks pulls up the highlights from the 10-point fourth quarter rally, he knows the final outcome, but it still amazes him.

“It was crazy,” he said. “Now when I look back it, it is like `Wow, we did that.’ At the time, it was like, `Watch this… watch what we’re going to do.’

The sequence of events allowed Banks to right a wrong from his prep days at Bell Glade Central High School in Florida.

“There was a time in that game where it brought back a play from my high school state championship game,” said Banks. “It was the same situation, fourth-and-goal, and I got stopped, and we lost the state championship game.”

Following the Homecoming victory over the Boilermakers, the Hawkeyes rattled of wins against Michigan State (44-16), at Indiana (24-8), at No. 8 Michigan (34-9), Wisconsin (20-3), Northwestern (62-10), and at Minnesota (45-21) to claim a share of the Big Ten title. Iowa played in its first Bowl Championship Series game in the Orange Bowl, falling 38-17 to Southern California.

Banks enjoyed a banner year for the Hawkeyes, completing 170-of-294 attempts for 2,573 yards and 26 touchdowns. He led the nation in passing efficiency en route to finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting, winning the Davey O’Brien Award and Associated Press Player of the Year Award, receiving the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award as the Big Ten Conference Most Valuable Player and being selected to numerous All-America squads.

“The focus was never on being player of the game or player of the year or accomplishing all those individual accolades,” said Banks. “It was always the little things and details. By doing that everything else came.

“I remember coach (Kirk) Ferentz talking about focusing on your task, getting your work done, showing up on the game field, and taking care of the small things. The focus was always executing assignments. By doing that, you know all the positive things would come. That wasn’t the focus… I couldn’t care less about that, it was making sure we were doing things right.”

After wrapping up his playing career in the Arena Football League with the Iowa Barnstormers, Banks has made Des Moines, Iowa, his home. He works in business development and with charitable initiatives.

Banks takes pride in being a University of Iowa graduate and alum of the Hawkeye football program.

“The measure is unlimited,” said Banks. “It goes beyond wearing black and gold, bleeding black and gold, and being a Hawk. The most important thing for me is being a pure worker and the work ethic and type of people we produce from the program and university.”

Banks still keeps tabs on the happenings in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.

“I am around,” he said. “I like to be involved and push and support the program. I am being that light in Des Moines.”

Banks brought the light to Iowa City during the 2002 season and solidified his spot in Hawkeye history as a member of the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletics Hall of Fame.

“This honor is special because it is where it started for me,” he said. “When I got to the University of Iowa, I was given the opportunity to play. That’s when things jumped off the map for me, and we put Iowa on the map and made it a household name again.”