Q&A with Gary Dolphin
Gary Dolphin is known as The Voice Of The Hawkeyes, having broadcasted play-by-play for Iowa football and basketball since 1997. His radio call during The Catch has become famous as Hawkeye fans remember the thrilling finish.
What do you remember about The Catch?
“You know, this sounds goofy, but the thing I remember most about essentially the end of the game, the final minute of the game, was how frustrated I felt when LSU scored with 50-some seconds to go in the game. They brought JaMarcus Russell in, of all people, a freshman, and he really rallied LSU. But what was frustrating after he put them ahead, my frustration was boiling over because Iowa had led the entire day. They had led the entire 59 of the 60 minutes to that point. Kirk and his staff had really outcoached Nick Saban and the Tigers and Iowa really deserved to win the game. Now people around the country were probably seeing that score at that point going, Oh, ok LSU, 13-0 the year before, national champions. Most of those starters were back, a terrific talented team, I think they had maybe three or four guys go in the first round that year. I just remember their defense was awesome, and Drew Tate was spectacular against that great LSU defense. So here it was, Iowa was on the cusp of losing a game that I really felt they deserved to win. That said, I think I made a remark on the air, Ed Podolak and I were talking that despite Iowa trailing for the first time, we knew just the way Drew Tate conducts himself, he would put Iowa in a position to win. They may not win the game, but he would put them in a position to win, either by scoring a touchdown or by positioning the field goal team. Keep in mind, we only needed a field goal, we did not need a touchdown. The Hawks did not need a touchdown. So Walner Belleus takes the kickoff and runs it back, great return out across the 30, and in two plays, Drew has them out at midfield. And still 30-40 seconds to go, plus two timeouts. I lead up to that point because that was the thing I’ll never forget other than the touchdown was how the Hawks kind of lost track of the game clock and the fact that they had two timeouts left and weren’t using them. All of a sudden Iowa gets penalized for, I forget, it was a false start or delay of game, but once they put the ball down they started the game clock. It seemed like nobody in the stadium other than those in the press box knew that time was running out. Tate ran one play and then was frantically checking to the sideline and Ken O’Keefe as I remember was flashing signals and signs, and nobody was calling timeout. I thought, wait a minute, you can’t lose this game by not managing your timeouts a littler better, by not calling timeout and settling down and getting a couple plays into the huddle, but it was not to be. So now, all of a sudden, we’re inside 10 seconds to go, and I said, the game is going to end on this play, the game, the season is going to end on this play. And we’re still just across midfield, nowhere near field goal range. At that point LSU, to this day I don’t understand why, they were chancetakers, LSU jumped into a blitz package. And one thing about Drew Tate that always marveled me, amazed me, was at 5-foot-11, 6-foot-whatever, not a very big guy, but he might be the smartest quarterback at changing on the run that Ive ever seen at Iowa. He recognized that blitz coming. He had Clinton Solomon take double coverage to the left. He had Holloway on single coverage up the far side hash, the wide side strong side hash, and Ed Hinkel on the outside. And Hinkel, of course, was the guy they were watching in that area. But Solomon was the key because Tate looked right at him as if the play was going that way. And he backed out from center, rolled out to his left, the blitz came, the safety and the linebacker bit on it, they came through, Tate slapped the ball once toward Solomon’s direction, then automatically turned and fired up the has toward where Holloway was. He caught the ball and of course, as you know, backed into the end zone, danced into the end zone and that was it. But it was just an amazing play, an amazing sequence. Fifty-eight seconds seemed to take like a day and a half. We went from frustration to anger to euphoria.”
Do you ever go back and listen to your call, and how do you feel about it?
“You know, I really don’t. I don’t know how many people have told me they use it as their answering service, their answering tone on their cell phone. So I get it that way once in a while. Every now and then when I go back four or five years just to review old plays, old games, and just who was playing at the time as we hit five and 10 year anniversaries, just to bring those up on the air, Ah gee, can it be 10 years since Robert Gallery played at Iowa, that kind of stuff that I’m always looking for. When I go back through media guides and old tapes, I’ll stumble across it now and then on a highlight tape or catch it on TV somewhere or on somebodys answering service. But I really don’t. It was a great moment, it was a wonderful moment in Iowa football history. It is probably the most spectacular ending to a game in the history of Iowa football, whether it be a bowl game or regular season. Now, I will tell you that the Michigan State game a couple years ago, up in East Lansing certainly rivals that play and that game simply for what it meant. It kept Iowa undefeated at the time, it almost ensured a BCS Bowl bid, which ultimately they got to the Orange Bowl. Stanzi to Marvin McNutt at Michigan State on that Saturday night game would be close to the end of the Capital One Bowl play. But no, I really don’t revel in the past for a couple reasons: That’s not me, and number two, I just don’t have the time.”
Where does that rank in terms of the best moments since youve been calling Iowa football?
“You know, it’s hard to say because I know I would miss some, miss a couple plays here and there. But as far as I can remember, it would rank right up near the top. In fact, it would rank number one, with Michigan States game a close second. Because of who they beat, I mean LSU was coming off a national championship year, 13-0. I’m not sure, I think they were a nine or 10 win team the next year. So they really had an outstanding football team, they had guys like Marcus Spears. They just had an outstanding defense, and for Iowa to put 30 points on the board against this LSU team was just tremendous, even though it’s a bowl game and doesn’t mean anything other than great national exposure and you’re on national TV on January 1st. That game would be right there at the top with the Michigan State game a close second. There’s so many wonderful moments in my almost 15 years of doing Iowa football that it’s hard to single out one.”