Iowa football quarterback Cade McNamara cites relationship with Jon Budmayr, culture as reasons for picking Hawkeyes

Budmayr, a senior special assistant to the head coach at Iowa, was on Wisconsin’s staff when McNamara received his first Power Five offer from the Badgers in 2017.


Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara speaks with reporters, Thursday, March 2, 2023, at the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City, Iowa.

Chris Werner, Assistant Sports Editor

A select number of Iowa football players met with media members for the first time this spring inside the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City on Thursday. Among them: new quarterback Cade McNamara. 

McNamara — who spent the last four seasons at Michigan, started in 2021 and beat Iowa in the Big Ten title game, but was benched in favor of J.J. McCarthy to begin the 2022 season — entered the transfer portal on Nov. 28, 2022, and committed to Iowa on Dec. 1, 2022. 

RELATED: Former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara to transfer into Iowa football program

The first question on everybody’s mind when McNamara was made available for questions Thursday: Why Iowa?

The graduate transfer from Reno, Nevada’s answer was a long and multifaceted one, but he cited a relationship with Iowa Senior Special Assistant to the Head Coach Jon Budmayr as a primary reason.

Budmayr was on the Wisconsin Badgers’ offensive coaching staff from 2015-20 and was a quality control coach for the Badgers when Wisconsin gave McNamara his first Power Five scholarship offer in 2017.

Budmayr coached the Badgers’ QBs from 2018-20. 

“We both have an understanding of how we operate,” McNamara said of Budmayr. “He knows my expectations and I know his expectations for this season. There’s a level of urgency between the two of us and I think we’re very similar in that aspect and that has played into our relationship as a quarterback and a quarterbacks coach. It’s been huge because we already have really good chemistry so I’m able to talk to him about anything, and he’s able to be straight-up honest with me. I really appreciate me and his relationship and I know it’s only going to continue to grow.”

McNamara also said the Hawkeye brand was something he wanted to be a part of. 

“I mean, overall, the reputation that this program has, I mean, I played them and I know what the brand looks like from the outside, it’s something that’s very well-respected across the conference and across the country,” McNamara said. “I just think this place is special. And I think coach [Kirk] Ferentz has an unbelievable reputation. Once I finally started to get to know him, I realized how much respect he has from not just the program, but everyone in the community, which is awesome.”

The 6-foot-1 McNamara also pointed to the level of pride the many Iowa natives on the roster have for the program as something that he noticed quickly. 

“Something that has really stood out to me is the amount of pride that my teammates have in being from Iowa and playing for Iowa,” McNamara said. “It’s continually said that, ‘We don’t have a professional team here in Iowa.’ And the level of seriousness that comes with playing here at the university is really special to the guys and we have a lot of guys from Iowa and they take a lot of pride in it.

“For me,” McNamara added, “it’s honestly pretty inspiring how much these guys care. A lot of my teammates, they grew up being Iowa fans and they want to represent the black and gold just like they watched when they were a kid … That’s something that I’m really happy to be a part of.”

McNamara noted an underdog mentality as part of the fabric of the program as yet another attractive aspect of the Hawkeyes’ identity.

“What I’ve grown to realize is that this is a chip-on-your-shoulder type of program,” McNamara said. “I think that was also very intriguing to me … I think I gel into it nicely and I think I’m just gonna continually try and do everything I can to make sure that I can prove myself to my teammates and my coaches.”

McNamara said a successful season at Iowa would result in a Big Ten Championship.