Wiebers shines at BV on gridiron, BB court
Buena Vista University sophomore quarterback Eric Wiebers admits that the shadow he's playing under is "tough to get out of."
But for Wiebers, that's not nearly as negative as it sounds.
Eric's dad Rollie was a star quarterback under coach Jim Hershberger at BV from 1976 until 1978, gaining Division III first-team All-American honors and leading the Beavers to the national semifinals in 1978, where the team lost to coach John Gagliardi and St. John's.
Five or six quarterback records are still held by Rollie, who was an all Iowa Conference pick three years and was Conference MVP his senior year as well.
Nevertheless, Eric has already broken a couple of his dad's records, including number of touchdown passes in a game and total passing yards in one game.
"A lot of people wonder whether I'm going to be as good as my dad was," Eric said Tuesday afternoon at the Pierce Hall dormitory lounge. "I'm playing in his shadow in a lot of ways, but for me, that just makes it more fun."
Rollie Wiebers ran an option-type offense under Hershberger, and was a prolific runner and passer. But the elder Wiebers admits he doesn't have the talent his son has.
"Eric has great vision on the field," Rollie said Tuesday night. "And he has a much stronger arm than I had. He can run toward one side of the field and rifle the ball back to the other side in a way I wouldn't even have attempted that. He's a natural at quarterback."
Why wouldn't he be?
Rollie was a head football and basketball coach at Charter-Oak-Ute, just a few miles from his native city of Denison.
Eric was always by his dad's side while the latter was coaching, whether it was at football or basketball practice or at games.
He'd shoot baskets on the side while Rollie's team was practicing and toss the football around with the older guys during grid practice.
"Eric was a gym rat and always at the football field with me, and I think being around practices, games and other athletes gave him a huge advantage over other kids." Rollie said.
"I can remember one evening, I was in a brick building breaking down film for a football game and Eric was tossing the football by himself at the building for more than an hour."
All that has paid off big-time for Eric. He was a standout basketball, football, track athlete and baseball player at Denison High before his graduation there in 2001.
Although Eric was equally talented in basketball and football, he eventually decided to play just basketball at the University of Nebraska-Omaha his freshman year.
But football came calling, according to Eric and his dad.
"I just missed playing football more than I thought I would, and I decided I wanted to play both football and basketball," Eric said. "That was available for me at BV."
So Eric transferred here after his freshman year at UN-O, and it has also paid off big-time for Beaver athletics.
Eric still had a good year at UN-O playing basketball, averaging 15 minutes of playing time per game as just a freshman in a high-powered Division II program.
"I think coming out of high school, Eric wanted to test the waters at a high level of basketball," Rollie said. "He had a great year in basketball at UN-O, but he really did miss playing football."
Eric says his dad always let him make his own decisions and never pressured him in any way to attend BV.
Still, Eric said, "deep down, my dad was glad I decided on BV. It's a great place that I'm real familiar with."
So is the entire Wiebers family. Rollie's three brothers - Doug, Dave and Rod - were all athletes at BV. So were two the elder Wiebers' sisters.
"I was thrilled Eric chose to transfer to BV," Rollie said. "But it was all Eric's decision. UN-O is more of a commuter school and I think Eric wanted a better campus life. A lot of his friends were at BV and he could play both sports there."
Meanwhile, Eric was a standout in both football and basketball in 2002-2003, his first full year at BV.
Last year in football, he emerged as starting quarterback early in the season and wound up hitting on 120 of 233 passes for 1,648 yards and 13 touchdowns. He completed 51.3 percent of his passes and averaged 164 passing yards per game.
On the basketball court at off-guard last winter and early spring, Eric led the Beavers to a 27-4 mark, the team's second consecutive conference championship and the Sweet 16 of the Division III national tournament.
Individually, he was tops in the nation in Division III in three-point field goal shooting (49.1 percent) and was an All-West Region and All-Conference selection as well as conference MVP.
Eric admits he's looking forward to next basketball season, but for now, football his on his mind. He admits the Beavers were young and struggled a bit in football last season, but says that won't be the case in 2003.
"We've all got a year's of good experience behind us now and I think we're going to surprise a lot of people," he said.
Meanwhile, Rollie is back coaching at Charter Oak-Ute but he and his family, brothers included, catch most of Eric's basketball and football games live. Denison is only about an hour south of Storm Lake.
"I can't think of a better way to spend a year than watching college sports," Rollie added. "When I go back to watch the BV football games, I see a lot of the guys I used to play with. It's sort of an extended family at BV, something special."
But what about those records of his that Eric could break this season or in the future.
"I think he'd like to see me break them," Eric said with a chuckle. "But at the same time, I'm sure he has a lot of pride in them and in a way, would like some of them to stand."