Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) celebrates with teammate Molly Davis during a NCAA college women’s basketball game against Fairleigh Dickinson University Knights, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Caitlin Clark is on the verge of another remarkable achievement. The University of Iowa star needs only 8 points to become the all-time NCAA women’s basketball scoring leader. She can make history Thursday when the 4th ranked Hawkeyes (22-3, 11-2 Big Ten) play host to Michigan (16-8, 7-6).

Awful Announcing recently caught up with Rob Brooks of the Hawkeye Radio Network. Brooks, 57, has had a front seat to Clark’s amazing career. We talked to him about Clark, Iowa, and following in the broadcasting footsteps of his father, the late Bob Brooks.

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Awful Announcing: How important is the scoring record to Clark?

Rob Brooks: “It’s a huge milestone. When you look at any record in basketball, that’s always number one, right? It’s out there, and I’m sure it weighs on the back of her mind and her teammates’ minds. But they’ve always put winning first. Now, you’d expect it to happen pretty early Thursday night. Once she hits that milestone, you have a little weight off your back.”

Have you seen a more popular Iowa athlete?

“Iowa men’s basketball had a 1980 Final Four basketball team that was very popular. Tom Davis’s first year for men’s basketball (in 1986-87), that team was ranked number one in the country and won 18 straight games, but got beat on a great comeback by UNLV in the Elite Eight. That team stands out. But as far as an individual and what we’ve seen on the road and the impact that she’s had on so many fans, men, women, 3 years old, 80 years old, no. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

What’s it like being on the road with Iowa?

“The thing that stands out is the people at the team hotel. There were hundreds of fans lined up just trying to cheer on the team, to get Caitlin’s autograph (on Sunday in Nebraska). The hotel was maybe a mile and a half from the arena. The street was just lined with fans all the way. The bridges and overpasses had Hawkeye fans waving. It has been like that every single place you go. Now you necessarily can’t go through the front door of the hotel. Meal rooms have to be off. There have been police escorts from the hotel to the arena. Otherwise, with the traffic jams, we might not get there. That’s something that didn’t even really take place last year. There’s just a buzz around when Iowa shows up.”

When did you realize that Clark was going to be special?

“I go back to her sophomore year game at Michigan. Iowa had some injuries to some starters, and Michigan had a good team. They were in the top ten at the time. And through three quarters, Iowa was down more than 20 points. 

“At the start of the fourth quarter, she takes a couple of steps over the half-court line and fires a three. There were still probably 25 seconds left on the shot clock. And it goes in. The next time down the court, she does the same thing. She had 25 points in that quarter and pulled Iowa to within five midway through the fourth quarter. Iowa ended up losing, but that moment stands out. “‘Wow, this could this could be something special.'”

Has it been difficult for Clark to play under a constant spotlight?

“You think about the pressure and the constant scrutiny, the people wanting to talk to her nationally. It’s just unbelievable how many interview requests she gets, the autographs. We’d still be in Nebraska if she signed every single autograph. I think she embraces it. I think she finds some calmness out on the court with her teammates. That seems to be her sanctuary where she’s happiest.”

How have Clark’s teammates dealt with the attention?

“I think everyone has handled it well. I think actions speak louder than words. Gabbie Marshall came back for an extra year. Kate Martin came back for an extra year, partially knowing that Caitlin was going to be there. And if you’re a post player, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want her on the floor. She had fifteen assists on Thursday night and she went over a thousand career assists Sunday. You have to have good hands and be ready for passes from anywhere. I think they’ve embraced it.”

What are reasonable expectations for Iowa?

“That’s a good question. It’s just so hard to accomplish what they accomplished last year. You look at South Carolina, they won something like 66 games out of 67. That one loss was to Iowa in the national semifinals last year. The NCAA tournament is always such a fickle thing. You don’t want to put that tag on a team. ‘Well, you have to win it all now because you finished second last year.’ That’s just unrealistic. I think you just try to win as many possible games as you can and go as far as you can.

“I think probably the outside narrative is ‘You need to get back to the Final Four.’ But I just don’t see it that way.”

What’s something most casual fans might not know about Clark?

“She’s a huge Chiefs fan. She has been to games every single year. She grew up in Des Moines, that’s only about three hours from Kansas City. There are a lot of Chiefs fans over there. She’s been a Chiefs fan from a young age, so it’s not like she just jumped on (the bandwagon) since they’ve become good. I think there are pictures of her as a kid running around in Chiefs jerseys.”

What made you want to follow in the broadcasting footsteps of your father?

“I’ve been around it for so long. I always had a big interest. There were a few years there where I didn’t, and then kind of jumped back into it. But yeah, that was always a goal.”

For those not familiar with Bob Brooks, could you describe his longevity?

“He did television for 30 years. He did Iowa play-by-play for 57, football and men’s basketball, and covered them for over 70 years. One of us has been on every Iowa football broadcast since 1943. I’ve worked in some capacity with football for over 30 years, and we overlapped a few. The last Iowa football game he saw was the Rose Bowl (on Jan. 1, 2016). He worked right up to the end.”

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant, Anthony Grant, Amy Grant or Hugh Grant.