IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Tiger drill was a Concordia University (Wisconsin) tradition. The team would christen in a new season with one player lining up against another. May the best man win.
It was always one of assistant coach Keith Collins’ favorite days. About 17 years ago, there was this one quarterback willing to jump in, ready to take on all comers. It always made Collins smile, a quarterback willing to get a little dirty.
“You would see the freshmen and sophomores looking at him like, ‘Who is this idiot?” Collins said.
That “idiot” was Tim Polasek.
So, no, Polasek becoming the Iowa offensive line coach doesn’t shock those at the small liberal arts school in Mequon, Wis. The only surprise may be it too him this long to coach the position.
“We always said as a coaching staff (that) if anybody was going to the next level and beyond as a coach, it was going to be Timmy,” Collins said.
Collins watched more than a thousand football players come through Concordia in his 33 years. Wannabe business majors became teachers. Some switched future careers three times in four years.
Never Polasek. He wanted to coach. He’d tell it to everyone.
“Timmy always said that was his goal,” Collins said.
Polasek wasn’t just participating in practice. He took mental notes, watching how coaches interacted with players, doled out criticism and put everyone in a position to work together. Football was Polasek’s everything.
“He wasn’t going to have a girlfriend,” Collins said. “He wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.”
Instead, he focused on his craft and learned the offense. Polasek wasn’t afraid to tell a teammate when they missed an assignment.
“Really was a joy when you get a guy who reinforces everything you are trying to do,” Collins said.
All the work paid off. He started from 1999-2001, taking home the Badger-Illini Conference Player of the Year award in 2000. He set single-game, single-season and career records for completions, attempts, passing yards and touchdowns.
Concordia enshrined Polasek in its Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012, after he finished his career with 6,979 passing yards and 65 touchdowns.
“I hold that pretty near and dear,” Polasek said. “It’s pretty cool senior year to have some control of the offense and things like that.”
Collins said he always thought Polasek was a linebacker taking snaps under center. It went beyond his Tiger drill antics.
Take the time Concordia traveled to Concordia University in Nebraska. Polasek and his team played in a smaller division, and the game would be a handful of them.
The Nebraska squad quickly asserted dominance, and Polasek took a beating, blood running from his nose. There wasn’t much time to throw, so Polasek tended to step forward, into the oncoming pass rush, trying to gain whatever yardage he could.
“He sacrificed himself in that game,” said Collins, the offensive line coach at the time. “I will never forget that game as long as I live.”
Polasek traded his helmet for a clipboard upon graduation in 2002. He spent 13 years moving up the ranks, working at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Northern Illinois and twice at North Dakota State, coaching nearly every offensive position but the line. He recruited the upper Midwest nearly the entire time and served as the offensive coordinator for the Bison before coming to the Hawkeyes.
“I never would trade my path for anything,” Polasek said.
Including his days in the Tiger drill.
“He was going to go to the next level, and football was his number one love,” Collins said. “He proved it.”