Interview: Drew Tate Talks Hawkeyes, Stampeders and Beyond

B.Senior Analyst IOctober 12, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 1:  Drew Tate #5 of the Iowa Hawkeyes talks in the huddle during the Capital One Bowl game against the LSU Tigers at the Florida Citrus Bowl on January 1, 2005 in Orlando, Florida. The Hawkeyes won 30-25. (Photo by Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

On January 1, 2005, in front of a large Capital One Bowl crowd, Drew Tate became an Iowa Hawkeye legend.

Winning the Big Ten Title with a victory over the Wisconsin Badgers secured Tate a spot in the Iowa history books, but ESPN declaring his Capital One Bowl hail mary as the 30th best play of all time in college football made him a legend.

As time on the game clock ticked away in the final seconds of the game, Tate launched a 56-yard pass to wide receiver Warren Holloway for a touchdown to win the game over the LSU Tigers, 30-25. 

Iowa isn't the only state to consider Tate a legend.  In fact, Iowa wasn't even the first state to bestow this title on him.  That honor belongs to Texas.

While playing high school in Texas, he was a four-year varsity starter who guided his team to four consecutive Class 5A playoff appearances and destroyed the record books.  He ranks first in career pass attempts and completions, second in career passing yards with over 12,100 and third in career touchdown passes with 113.

Tate originally committed to play college football for Texas A&M, but after a coaching change he decided to take his skills elsewhere.  It just so happened, Iowa had an opening.

At Iowa, he went on to become one of four players ever to start at quarterback for three seasons.  He recorded over 8,240 passing yards and ranks third in career wins among Iowa's all-time quarterbacks. 

Tate's 61 career touchdown passes also ties him for eighth-best in Big Ten Conference history.

These days, Tate is playing football up in Canada, waiting for a chance to tackle a few CFL records.  He is a backup quarterback for the Calgary Stampers, who are currently sitting tied for first place in the Western Division. 

Even though Tate hasn't played at Iowa in nearly three years, Hawkeye fans still inquire about him on a regular basis.  It seems Iowa television doesn't carry many CFL games.

As a result, I recently caught up with Drew Tate.  With the help of the Coordinator of Community and Media Relations for the Calgary Stampeders, I was able to get a few questions over to Drew, who was more than willing to answer.


BRET FEDDERN: You have covered a lot of ground in your football career (Texas, Iowa, Canada). How is life in Canada different from the states? Was it hard to adjust?

DREW TATE: Not a lot is different to be honest. They are on the metric system here so I am glad all of my math classes back at Iowa got me ready for it up here in Canada. It wasn't hard to adjust really.

If I had come straight from Texas to here I probably wouldn't have made it because of the weather. Iowa was my first time being in cold weather so pretty much after Iowa it's safe to say that I was ready for it here.


BF: What are the CFL fans like? Are the Calgary fans just as intense as us Hawkeye fans on game day?

DT: The CFL fans are great here. They are very passionate about their teams. Very similar to Iowa fans. The best I can describe it is our games are just like Iowa games but being able to consume alcohol inside the stadium. Therefore, lots of streakers and people running on the field during play. A very fun time.


BF: What has been the biggest difference for you between playing in the Big Ten and playing in the CFL?

DT: It's the 12 player. Having an extra defensive back and receiver changes a lot. Coverages and route combinations are just structured differently and it has taken a while to get comfortable knowing what is going on every play. Also only 3 downs so after 2 plays you're punting. You get a lot more drives with the ball.


BF: It looks like a battle going on up there in the West Division. What is the key to success for the Stampeders to win the Grey Cup?

DT: We just need to be ready to play the full 60 or plus minutes and nothing less. We have been growing as a team and now in the 14 week, we are starting to put together a good team right now.

The last 6 games is such an important time for our team because we need to be playing our best football going into the playoffs. Right now we are in sole possession of first place so we just need to keep the gas pedal floored all the way.


BF: Do you get a chance to watch the Hawkeyes or catch any Iowa highlights? If so, what current Hawkeye has impressed you the most so far this year?

DT: Stanzi is doing great. He wins games and everyone seems to overlook that now a days. You play to WIN and it doesn't matter how that's accomplished. The defense has been the most impressive thing to me. I have only seen the Penn St. game and they played phenomenal.

The offense played great when they had to and the defense was able to keep them in the game the whole time. That was a great team win and a huge boost of confidence for not just the team but the coaches and everyone involved in that building.


BF: What was your favorite moment as a Hawkeye?

DT: Taking a knee against Wisconsin at home to win the Big Ten championship and having the fans swarm the field. Having the trophy ceremony right there on the field. It was a cold cold night game and the atmosphere of that moment is what makes college football the greatest thing on American soil.


BF: In the off season, what was your favorite hangout in Iowa City? Favorite place to get Pizza? (For me, The Airliner for Pizza)

DT: The one thing I tried to do was make Iowa City a great time all the time. Iowa City is such a special place that really is a secret to so many people. Every time someone asks me how was it playing at Iowa and living there I just tell them you have to experience it yourself. People who have never been to Iowa City or to Kinnick for a game just can not comprehend what it's really like.

I can't call out just one place for hang out or food because I went a lot of places and had a ball at all of them. [Three Samurai] sushi is still the best sushi I have ever eaten. Yes, Airliner GREAT pizza.


BF: You are a team leader with a strong understanding of football. Your stepfather was your high school coach and you played football at a university known for molding college coaches. Some might say those are the roots for a potential coaching career. Do you have any plans to coach football in the future? Is coaching something of interest to you?

DT: Absolutely I want to coach college football without question. As long as I can remember I've been involved with this game one way or another. I was always the ball boy for my dad's teams since 2 grade and then became the quarterback.

What helped me was that my dad just happen to be a nerd high school football coach in the state of Texas. That's what his passion was so as a son always looking up to your dad, I was just the lucky one to be in that spot. God has blessed me so much in putting the people He has into my life in all of my chapters of growing up to become a man and I just can't be more happy about that.


Tate made a lasting impression on Hawkeye fans and record books, and he looks to do the same in Calgary.  Texans know what he is capable of.  So do Iowans.  It's time for Canadians to find out, too.

He saw his first playing time of the season recently against the Montreal Alouettes.  It was a losing effort for Calgary in the long run, but Tate's performance gave his supporters something to smile about.  He attempted six passes, connecting on five for a total of 36 yards.

And who knows...maybe the Iowa Hawkeye Football record books haven't seen the last of Drew Tate.