To me, Drew Tate’s career and our perception of him is Iowa Fans in a nutshell. At first, Drew Tate was everything we wanted out of a quarterback. The native of Baytown, Texas scrambled, he took chances and he fired the ball down the field. He was fiery. He led Iowa to a 10-2 record and a share of a Big Ten Championship in 2004, the most recent championship in Iowa football history. He was named First Team All-Big Ten. We, as fans, loved him. I remember back in 2005 there was a sizeable Facebook group (was it still The Facebook then?) called Drew Tate for Heisman. And seriously, you might not remember it, but there was legitimate preseason Heisman hype for Tate.
Alas, love is fleeting. Despite Tate having a better year across the board, a year where he threw for nearly 3,000 years and 22 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, Iowa was a disappointment in 2005. Tate put up these numbers even thought he missed nearly the entire Iowa State game. The game where he threw an interception and then injured himself trying to hit-stick the guy who picked him off. That was a very Drew Tate thing to do.
And then came 2006…an all around unmitigated disaster of a season. I was there for it. Suddenly, the guy who Iowa fans loved for being fiery and a competitor, was getting on their nerves. Suddenly, when Iowa wasn’t winning anymore, Tate was “hot-headed” and "out of control". I mean, was it Drew’s fault that his wide receiver lineup was Dominique Douglas, Andy Brodell and Herb Grigsby? Apparently it was. That much was evident on Senior Day, when there was a smattering of boos when Tate ran out onto the field for the final time against Wisconsin. Funny how things change.
Time brings perspective. When looking back on those dark years you realize that it’s actually impressive that Tate was as good as he was, considering what he had to work with. In Tate’s last hurrah, the Alamo Bowl against a Texas, a Texas team that had Colt McCoy, Selvin Young, Jamaal Charles, Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby, Limas Sweed and Aaron Ross, he had his best game of the year. He went 15-25 for 274 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He gave the Hawkeye fans everything he had. We, unfortunately, didn’t return the favor.