Aug 30, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Gavin McGrath will never be elected to the National Iowa Varsity Club Athletic Hall of Fame.
His name and jersey No. 37 will never be on the Kinnick Stadium Wall of Honor.
But a season-opening pregame pep talk from McGrath to the University of Iowa football team Friday in the indoor practice facility was as powerful as it was symbolic.
McGrath never started a football game for the UI, but he and the Gavin McGraths of the program provided a solid foundation for Hawkeye success throughout the seasons. McGrath, a linebacker, was named permanent captain for special teams following a 9-4 season in 2008 that included a 31-10 dismantling of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
In 2007, the Hawkeyes lost to Western Michigan on the final Saturday of the season to finish 6-6 with no bowl invitation.
“There are parallels between the 2008 season with that senior class and the 2013 class of seniors,” McGrath said. “The difference between ’07 and ’08 for us is that in ’08 we had that little bit extra. There is a difference between having a good day versus having a kick-butt day. That’s the power to choose that separates the great from the good.”
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 4-8 season, ending a string of four straight bowl games that started when McGrath was a senior. The fact McGrath was a special team’s standout has added significance.
“Iowa football was built on special teams and strength and conditioning,” McGrath said. “I was a special team’s permanent captain in that season and they have made special teams such a focus this season and going back to the roots.”
Iowa puts a 12-game season-opening win streak on the line Aug. 31 against a Northern Illinois team coming of a 12-win season, highlighted by an appearance in the Orange Bowl. When McGrath was as senior, the Hawkeyes rolled through the nonconference portion of their home schedule, pounding Maine (46-3), Florida International (42-0) and Iowa State (17-5).
Before the 2013 season opens, the Hawkeyes are left with these words from McGrath’s pep talk:
“The choices you make every time you step on the field, in the weight room, practice facility or classroom impact your character and who you are as a person.”