With his Iowa team trailing Washington 28-0 in the waning moments of the 1982 Rose Bowl, a rangy freshman quarterback trotted into the rout. Chuck Long took two snaps before time expired, carrying twice for 11 yards. Since then, in three years as a starter, Long has thrown for 7,150 yards. His wake at Iowa is littered with the debris of broken records he "can't really keep track of." Against Indiana last season Long connected on 22 consecutive passes, an NCAA record. His 66.1 completion percentage last fall led Division I. After his six-TD, 461-yard strafing of Texas in the Freedom Bowl in a driving rain, Longhorn coach Fred Akers said, "He was as perfect as I've ever seen a quarterback."
NFL scouts rate Long as one of the nation's top three collegiate quarterbacks, along with Jack Trudeau of Illinois and Robbie Bosco of BYU. But since the '81 season, when his uniform stayed so clean that the NCAA let him count it as a red-shirt year, Long hasn't played in a Rose Bowl. And that sticks in his craw. So on Feb. 5, after a month of ruminating, Long told a roomful of reporters that pro ball could wait awhile. He would return for a fifth season in Iowa City.
Long gets two of his three favorite receivers back for '85 and foresees "the most exciting offense in Iowa history." Few disagree. Kevin Harmon started the spring game at tailback, but only because his older brother, Ronnie, was in a cast, recovering from a compound leg fracture suffered against Wisconsin in the ninth game. Ronnie, a senior who averaged 100.7 yards per game in '84, has hands and moves reminiscent of his older brother, Derrick, the San Francisco 49er running back.
Robert Smith, a junior wingback who spreads defenses like warm margarine, skipped spring track to drill with the football team. Smith is a 10.16 100-meters man who averaged 26.6 yards a catch last year. There's also plenty of proven ability in the Hawkeyes' immense front five, which returns virtually intact. The same can't be said, however, of the defense, which loses seven All-Big Ten players off a unit that allowed the fewest points—15.3 per Saturday—in the conference. What the defense does have is consensus All-America linebacker Larry Station, who had 137 tackles in '84, including 85 solos, and coach Hayden Fry, who's said to be as "defense-oriented as an armadillo." Don't worry about the D.
Last November the injury-ridden Hawkeyes tied Wisconsin and lost to Michigan State and hapless Minnesota. Goodby, Pasadena. "It left a bad taste in my mouth," says Long. So he's back, which means the Hawkeyes should go a Long way.