Chuck Long makes amends with Seneca Wallace for 14-year-old mistake


Former ISU quarterback Seneca Wallace poses for a photo with former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long at the Iowa Games opening ceremonies at Jack Trice Stadium on July 17, 2015. 

Kyle Heim

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long dodged repeating a mistake he made 14 years ago.

As the quarterbacks coach at Oklahoma in 2001, Long made a mistake that continues to haunt him to this day.

The Sooners had an eye on a 20-year-old quarterback from Sacramento City College who had two years of eligibility remaining.

His name: Seneca Wallace.

Even schools in the Pac-10 showed interest, but they didn’t believe Wallace was capable of playing quarterback. They wanted him to play wide receiver or cornerback.

In the end, Long passed on him.

“I made a big mistake a long time ago when I was coaching — I turned Seneca down in recruiting,” Long said. “I was at the University of Oklahoma and I turned him down, and I shouldn’t have done that.”

Wallace got his opportunity to play quarterback at Iowa State. In two seasons, he passed for 5,289 yards and 26 touchdowns. He added more than 900 yards on the ground and 15 rushing touchdowns.

“It worked out for the best,” Wallace said. “I came here at Iowa State; this is where my journey started. It was a good pick for me to come here.”

His favorite memory came against Iowa State’s greatest rival and Long’s alma mater, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Down 24-7 at halftime, Wallace led Iowa State to a 36-31 comeback victory against Iowa, the only regular season loss the Hawkeyes were dealt in 2002 and possibly the only thing that kept them from playing in the NCAA Championship.

Wallace went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL, seven with the Seattle Seahawks, before retiring after the 2013 season. He started 22 games during his career and threw for 4,947 yards and 31 touchdowns.  

“Seneca was a great player in college and professionally,” Long said. “I apologized to him that I turned him down.”

Wallace said every coach has their reasons for the players they recruit. Are they too big or too small? Do they fit the mode of what the school is trying to accomplish?

“Every time I see Chuck, he apologizes,” Wallace said. “It’s funny to think about it now. At the time, you don’t really pay attention to it because you’re going through the recruiting process.”

Long is now the CEO/executive director of the Iowa Sports Foundation, a position he’s held since September 2014.

“It’s a great place to be,” Long said. “It’s all about sports and recreation and health and wellness for all Iowans.”

Included in his line of work is preparing for the Iowa Summer Games, and one of the responsibilities was finding someone to give the keynote speech at the opening ceremony Friday night at Jack Trice Stadium.

The decision was one Long won’t need to spend the next 14 years regretting.

“[Wallace is] a Cyclone graduate and played there, and people know his name,” Long said. “I think people will be excited to see him again, [see him] come back to campus.”