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Banks: 2nd in Heisman, 1st in Our Hearts

Banks: 2nd in Heisman, 1st in Our Hearts

12/16/2002 by Jon Miller of Hawkeye Nation


There is an old adage that goes something along the lines of ‘No one remembers second place.’ That might be true most of the time. But in the case of Iowa quarterback Brad Banks, Hawkeye fans will never forget 2nd place.

Banks finished 2nd place in the 2002 Heisman Trophy balloting behind USC quarterback Carson Palmer.

Both Banks and Palmer had outstanding resumes and each of them had won an impressive national quarterback award last week: The Davey O’Brien Award going to Banks and the Johnny Unitas Award going to Palmer.

Palmer will take home the most coveted individual award in all of sports, but Banks will not be forgotten.

How can you forget his Cinderella story, his rise from the fields of Florida, to a backup role behind Duante Culpepper, to a quarterback/wide receiver at Hinds Junior College, to a backup at Iowa and finally, to his first Division 1 start on August 31st ?

Little did we know at the time that Iowa’s game against Akron would be the first step on Brad Banks’ miraculous rise to the top of the college football elite. Brad’s 44-yard scamper against Purdue might be his defining play of the season, but what is more impressive is the consistency he displayed as the nation’s leader in passing efficiency, average yards per attempt and touchdown percentage.

He threw for 25 touchdowns and just four interceptions during the 2002 regular season.

His 25 touchdowns are second most in school history and just two off of Chuck Long’s record set in 1985. Before 2002, Long in 1985 and Chuck Hartlieb in 1987 were the best seasons an Iowa quarterback has ever had.

Banks surpasses them with his legs and with his consistency.

There was one low point along the way for Banks and the Hawkeyes, and that came against Iowa State. Banks had two fumbles in the third quarter and Iowa saw its 24-7 halftime lead evaporate into the September sky. Iowa lost that game, but Banks and his Hawkeye teammates were able to draw on that experience two weeks later after blowing a 23-point fourth quarter lead at Penn State.

Banks would throw a touchdown pass in overtime that ended up being the winning score for the Hawkeyes.

The ghosts of the Iowa State game had been exorcized for Banks and for the Hawkeyes.

Banks is an extension of Iowa’s head coach, Kirk Ferentz; Cool, calm, collected and consistent.

When the fire came, Banks was there to answer the questions and take the heat, just like Ferentz had done during his first two seasons at Iowa where the Hawkeyes won just four games and lost 19. Banks had every opportunity in 2001 to turn the Iowa locker room upside down with a quarterback controversy, but when he was asked his opinion of being the backup to Kyle McCann (and he was asked this over and over again last year), Banks didn’t force the issue and just said that he would wait for his time to come, like he always has.

So on December 14 th , 2002, Brad Banks found his way to New York City as one of five finalists for the Heisman Trophy.

He and his head coach were interviewed on the ESPN Heisman Award Special telecast that was seen by an estimated 90 million people. Coach and player were humble and appreciative. After Palmer was announced as the winner and the cameras were turned off, Banks met a group of reporters and continued to show his thanks.

A lot of athletes say things like ‘I am just glad to be here’, yet we don’t always believe them.

When Banks said such things last night, we believe him, because that is what he has always said. It’s the same humble approach he has taken, whether or not Iowa was a pre- season also-ran or after the conference championship victory against Minnesota on November 16th when Iowa was ranked #3 in the nation.

As fate would have it, the #3 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes will face #5 USC in the 2002 Orange Bowl.

The media will get a lot of play out of Banks v. Palmer and that the battle for the Heisman trophy will be decided on the field.

I guess that is a fun part of the periphery that will surround this game.

But if Banks stays true to form, and there is no reason to believe that will not be the case, based on two years worth of Brad’s penitent persona, he will just blow that off and focus on the team’s goal.

Brad Banks is a future Iowa legend with one game to play. He is on a team full of future legends and together they will go down in Iowa history as a legendary team.

Iowa is one more win away from being the undisputed best team in Hawkeye Football history.

It’s all the more fitting when you look at the team’s leader, a kid from Florida, who has in just two short seasons adopted the characteristics and heart and soul of what it means to be an Iowan. Banks is humble, hard working, genuflecting and thankful.

His hometown of Belle Glade, Florida may as well be Bell Plaine, Iowa.

Brad Banks is a true Hawkeye and Iowa fans will always remember number seven who came in second place on one day in December, 2002.

Because from this day forward, he will be number one in the hearts of Hawkeye football fans for generations to come.

Hawkeye NationHawkeye Nation was founded by Jon Miller, and later acquired by Rivals and Sports Illustrated. You can visit them at

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Banks: 2nd in Heisman, 1st in Our Hearts - Summary of Iowa football and basketball games