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Five for Friday: Bonus Week - Top Coaches and Top Christmas Movies

Ranking the best Iowa coaches and favorite Christmas movies.

Hayden Fry Iowa
No caption needed. God bless Coach Fry.
Getty images

With all the animosity between groups out there, and no I’m not talking Democrats and Republicans, I wanted to try something out where everyone is always correct.

On Fridays, I will throw out a topic asking for your top five in whatever the conversation is that week. I’ll give my opinion and then read your choices in the comment section. We’ll keep this going as long as there is some participation.

As these are your (or my) opinions, we can’t be wrong so just have fun with the topic.

The first week was a success as people discussed their favorite Hawkeye basketball players of their lifetime. The next week highlighted Christmas gift ideas and this week we were just going to discuss Christmas movies but with the passing of Hawkeye legend Hayden Fry, it’s going to be a bonus week.

Five for Friday

Hayden Fry will always be the pinnacle of Hawkeye football, especially for everyone over 30 years of age. That got me thinking of who the Mt. Rushmore of Hawkeye coaches across all sports would be (for this instance our Mt. Rushmore will have five people as that fits with the spirit of Five for Friday).

Speaking of spirit, with Christmas being less than one week away, I thought we should also talk about your go to Christmas movies that you have to see each year.

My Five for Friday - Coaches Mt. Rushmore +1

Obviously the reason for the timing of this one is the sad passing of Coach Fry. While sad, passing at age 90 is quite an accomplishment and certainly makes reading all the wonderful tributes and stories much more satisfying than if someone passed in the prime of their life. Death is one thing no one has managed to avoid as of yet so the ability to celebrate Coach Fry and his accomplishments makes me happy.

With that said, below is my list of influential coaches in the history of Iowa sports in reverse order. My knowledge on some of the less visible sports such as soccer, field hockey, and gymnastics is limited so apologies in advance if I’ve missed some titans of their respective sports.

  • Duane Banks: Coach Banks led the Iowa baseball team from 1970-1997. Over that time he had a winning percentage of .585 and totaled 810 wins with the program. The Hawkeye baseball field was renamed in his honor in 2001 and Banks coached 57 players who signed professional contracts according to the Iowa 2019 Baseball Media Guide. I still have a recruiting letter from Coach Banks from the late 1980s where I think he was able to see through my “talent” by offering me an opportunity to walk-on rather than a full blown scholarship.
  • Ralph Miller: Coach Miller was only with Iowa for six seasons before leaving to coach out the rest of his career at Oregon State, but while at Iowa Miller had a winning percentage of .651, including .643 in conference play. During his tenure Iowa overcame about a decade of futility to become relevant in the conference again as he won two Big Ten crowns. With Iowa becoming a factor in the conference once again, they were able to bring in Lute Olson in 1975, something that wouldn’t have been possible without Miller’s success. After leaving Iowa, Miller won 342 games with Oregon State over a 19 year period.
  • C. Vivian Stringer: It’s a testament to the two greats in front of her that Coach Stringer isn’t higher on this list. All she accomplished in her 12 seasons at Iowa was to win 269 games (a .762 winning percentage), six Big Ten titles, and nine trips to the NCAA tourney peaking with a final four berth in 1993. Since leaving Iowa, Coach Stringer has won 490 games and counting for Rutgers University. Stringer would truly be on the women’s Mt. Rushmore along side Pat Summit, Tara VanDerveer, and Geno Auriemma. Had she stayed at Iowa rather than leave for Rutgers, Stringer would have been at the top of this list.
  • Hayden Fry: You have all read the impact that Coach Fry had on Iowa sports. I have nothing else I can add that many others haven’t already said in beautiful fashion. Growing up in the middle of the Fry era, it was simply a pleasure to watch him work and enjoy the success he brought to the state. I can’t wait to see what Iowa does to honor Coach in the bowl game and next season.
  • Dan Gable: The best wrestling coach ever. Period. Full stop. In his 22 seasons coaching the Hawkeyes, Gable lost 21 dual meets. For those that are mathematically challenged, that’s less than one a year on average. His dual meet record was 355-21-5. During that time, according to Wikipedia, Gable coached 152 all-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big Ten champions, and 12 Olympians (eight who won medals). His teams won 21 Big Ten titles and 15 NCAA titles. While Gable didn’t have to turn around the program like many on this list, his pure domination during his time at the helm makes him top dog in my book.

My Five for Friday - Christmas Movies

Before I give you my list in reverse order, I’ll declare that I do not consider Die Hard as a Christmas movie. There will be those that disagree and I’m anxious to see where it falls on your list.

Be wary, potential spoiler alerts to follow.

  • A Christmas Story: One of the only “old-timey” movies that I like at Christmas. “You’ll shoot your eye out” is a refrain that every kid has heard at one time or another and who hasn’t had a leg lamp on their Christmas list at least once.
  • Grinch that Stole Christmas (animated TV show version): Not quite a movie but it counts to me as it is one I have to see every year. Thurl Ravenscroft’s version of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” is the only version I’ll listen to.
  • Christmas Vacation: Chevy Chase at the top of his game. Pre-spending a projected Christmas bonus, what could go wrong? Everything about this movie makes me laugh and I feel shortchanged if I miss it during the Christmas season.
  • Bad Santa: Vulgar and inappropriate? Yes. Unfortunately the target market for this movie is people like me with a warped sense of humor. While most of the movie is probably unquotable for a family audience, the quote from the following clip is one I use at least at least a handful of times a year. You may want to cover your ears for the first ten seconds though.
  • Elf: I’ve already watch Elf three times this year. Nothing gets my Christmas spirit going like watching Will Ferrell represent the child in all of us as he thinks that he is an elf.

There you have it, my top five Iowa coaches and my five go to Christmas movies. Let me know your favorites.

Merry Christmas and as always Go Hawks!