Ottawa Rough Riders

Ken Hobart - Quarterback - 1989-90 - University of Idaho

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Blog - The Parking Lot - David - June 2007

Before Damon Allen was professional football’s all-time leading passer, he was a hapless goat who threw enough interceptions to make him a pariah among Ottawa Rough Rider fans in his first season with the team in 1989. Later that season, from the potato patches of Idaho, Ken Hobart emerged as the saviour for the ham 'n eggers sitting in the south side stands at Lansdowne Park by winning two games, thus doubling Ottawa's wins for a respectable 4-14 season. Long after Hobart had returned to the simple life in Lewiston, Idaho, Southsiders would dog Allen with extended moans of "Ho-bart, Ho-bart". The Southsiders, originality not their strong suit, continued hurl this epithet at Allen's successors who had no idea what they were referring to.

Although it's his off-the-tractor performance in 1989 that many of us remember, Ken Hobart was more than just a flash-in-the-pan back-up. He was a natural athlete and leader who came through for his teams, making do with the situations given to him. As a walk-on at the University of Idaho, Hobart established himself as a prolific running quarterback in coach Jerry Davitch's option-play offense. When Davitch was replaced by Dennis Erickson and his spread passing offense, many wondered whether Hobart, who had barely thrown the ball under Davitch, could keep his starting role. Quickly adapting to the new Vandals' offense, Hobart emerged as a talented passer, being named All-American in 1983 en route to becoming only the second player in NCAA history to pass for 10,000 yards, setting 12 Division I-AA records, and crushing rival Boise State 45-24. Today, the "Kamiah Kid" is ranked the 45th greatest athlete from Idaho by Sports Illustrated.

Following his success at Idaho, Ken Hobart rode the bench in 1984 for the USFL's Denver Gold, throwing for a touchdown and 576 yards, and rushing for another 160 yards and a touchdown. In the NFL supplemental draft that year, Hobart was drafted 10th overall by the New York Jets, ahead of future NFL stars Ricky Sanders, Gary Clark, and Mel Gray.

Although he later regretted the decision, Hobart never took a snap in the

NFL, landing in Hamilton for the 1985 CFL season where he lit up the league as a rookie. Rushing for an unprecedented 928 yards, he won the Jeff Russell Memorial Trophy for the most outstanding player in the eastern division. To this day, Hobart shares the record for most touchdown passes in a playoff game, having thrown five on November 17, 1985 in a win over Montreal in the eastern final. In a championship loss to the BC Lions, Hobart never quit, scrambling for his life and throwing three touchdowns.

Hobart was replaced by Mike Kerrigan the next season, but took home a Grey Cup ring as a member of that championship team, playing a couple of series late in the game. Eventually Hobart was cut loose by the Ti-Cats and bounced around, stopping in Regina long enough for a cup of coffee before returning to Idaho for what he thought was the quiet life of a retired CFLer in the American west.

 

In 1989 the state of football in Ottawa couldn't have been any worse. It had been eight years since the Rough Riders had been to the Grey Cup and thirteen years since they'd won it. Coming off Super Season '88, when they managed to win only two games, the desperate team hired marketing superstar Jo-Anne Polack as general manager. Polack poached free agent Damon Allen from Edmonton where he couldn't escape the long shadows of Matt Dunigan and Tracy Ham. Allen as saviour became the focus of Polack's "Rider Rage" marketing campaign, along with running back Orville Lee and kicker shanker Dean Dorsey. 1989 also saw the arrival of one of the worst coaches ever to pace a CFL sideline, Steve Goldman.

The Riders were en route to a Super Season '88 sequel, with a 2-11 record, when Allen went down with torn ligaments in his throwing hand. With two games left in the season, the Riders' record was 2-14, back-up Willie Gillus was injured, stop-gap Tony Kimbrough had proven hopeless, and a defensive back had been taking snaps from centre. Polack went searching for hope to salvage "Rider Rage" and it came in the form of Ken Hobart. As he had done at Idaho and in Hamilton, Hobart stepped up to beat Winnipeg in back-to-back games, Ottawa's first consecutive wins in half a decade and doubling Ottawa's win total.

The next season, every time Damon Allen faltered, the "Ho-bart" chants rained down from Lansdowne Park's south side upper deck where Byron Smith, "President of the Southsiders for Life", whipped up the ham 'n eggers into an anti-Allen frenzy. Frustrated watching the hapless Allen, Hobart would stir the crowd by donning his helmet and warming up on the sidelines. Goldman, who had never wanted Hobart back for the 1990 season, made the worst of many bad decisions when he released the fan favourite. For the 1991 season, Ken Hobart was back home in Idaho, Allen threw 31 picks, and Goldman was canned after four games, but the southsiders were relentless with their chants of "Ho-bart". To this day fans torment Allen with these heckles.

Despite only starting for one year and being active for less than five, Hobart concluded his CFL career as the leader among quarterbacks in rushing.

Today Ken Hobart lives in Lewiston, Idaho, with is wife and three children where he sells billboard advertising and real estate. He remains active in football as the colour commentator for University of Idaho Vandals' football and supervising the development of his son Zack, a quarterback himself.

 

For Information on obtaining historical CFL Images visit:

http://scottgrant.photoshelter.com/

- statistics --

 

 

Ken Hobart       Idaho      
    Passing        
Yr Team Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg
1985 Ham 437 211 2,522 48.3 19 14 67
1986 Ham 217 104 1,062 47.9 2 6 52
1987 Ham 101 49 664 48.5 5 3 26
1988   Did Not Play          
1989 Ott 54 19 384 35.2 3 3 75
1990 Ott 70 32 448 45.7 2 5 53
Total 5 879 415 5,080 226 31 31 75

 

    Rushing      
Yr Team C Yds Avg Lg TD
1985 Ham 118 928 7.9 44 6
1986 Ham 82 593 7.2 35 6
1987 Ham 28 240 8.6 26 1
1988            
1989 Ott 20 115 5.8 14 1
1990 Ott 20 106 5.3 15 2
Total 5 268 1,982 7.4 38 16