It’s been nearly a decade since BHGP commenter The Director took to the FanPost to educate us all on some Hawkeye history - the good, the bad and the ugly. Over the next few weeks as we prepare for football season, we’ll be revisiting these history lessons as they truly are great reading. The following was originally posted on November 16th, 2010. You can read the original here: A History of Iowa Football PART VII: A High Porch Picnic, 1979-1998.
All parts of this series can be found here:
John Hayden Fry was Texas. A descendant of an original Texan family--including one relative who fought with Sam Houston--Fry epitimozed the Yellow Rose independent spirit as celebrated in films such as GIANT, THE ALAMO, and, in its own way, DAZED AND CONFUSED. (1) He was brash. He was bold. He did everything big and he did it with style (he wore shades in the day!). He did things his own way, and he didn’t give a flying intercourse what you thought of it. Because, in the end, he knew that you would love it
As long as he won, that is. Everyone loves a winner. Everyone loves a cowboy. And everyone loves John Hayden Fry.
The day they hired Hayden Fry, I remember thinking only one thing: this guy sounds NUTS! (2)
They talked about his days as a Texas high school QB. How he and a few classmated allegedly flunked their senior year on purpose so they would get another shot at a state championship (which they won, by the way, proving that if you’re going to fuck the system, you might as well successfully conceive, right?). How he had been the first Southwest Conference coach to play a black player. How he had been fired by SMU--after taking them to a Cotton Bowl--because he wouldn’t tolerate an alumni slush fund. (3) How he had gone to North Texas State, and taken them to a dizzying height.
Still, that’s not what got to me. What got to me was his manner. He had a swagger, like James Dean in GIANT after his well “came in.” When Fry went to the mic, he walked up there confident, drenched in crude oil fresh from the ground, his future secure, prospects bright as sun on a magnifying glass, and talked about
corn futures WINNING. Fuck, no Iowa coach had talked about corn futures winning like Fry had since Evy! And Fry talked about it not as a theory, or as a proposition, but as a FACT. We....will....win.
Was this a joke? some wondered. Did Fry know that we’d had 17 losing season in a row? That we’d won just a couple of games the year before? Had he seen the schedules for the next five years? Cripes, it was like Lazzeri, Cronin, Gehrig, Ruth, and Simmons all over again; only this time, instead of facing pitching-ace Carl Hubbell, they get to beat up on a Pee-Wee hurler! (4) This was a Murderers Row no one could survive! (look at the schedules if you don’t believe me: from 1979-1981 we played teams like Oklahoma, Nebraska, UCLA, and, of course, OSU, and Michigan).
He was asked how he would do the impossible, how he would have this baby David defeat those many collegiate Goliaths. His answer was almost comical in its simplicity and quaintness:
”We’re gonna’ scratch where it itches.”
Chuckles. Nervous chuckles. Was he mad? Had he seen the players in person? Had he seen their forty times? “Scratch where it itches”? Can I have a few more details, please?
”We’re gonna’ play hard every game. We may run the Statue of Liberty play out of our own end zone!”
It was at this point that people were
lighting the bomb fuses eyeing the door, awaiting the inevitable arrival of the ambulance and men in white outfits, a soon-to-be-applied strait-jacket in their hands. (5)
The first game was against Indiana. At half, we were up by three touchdowns. It all seemed to good to be true! (It was). A frantic comeback by the Hoosiers left us ahead by just a few points late in the 4th quarter. A colleague of mine recalls what happened, and his voice gets tight and strained when he tells it: a defensive back (he recalls it was Mario Pace) blows a coverage and IU wins on a long pass play. In fact, he remembers it as if it were yesterday. (6)
We scratched where it itched, but it was IU that drew blood that day. Still.....that first half was pretty sweet. Hadn’t seen an Iowa team play so well since, maybe, 1974 when they beat UCLA. Next week: powerhouse Oklahoma and Heisman candidate Billy Sims.
Hmm. Maybe we got something here! In the second half, it’s only Oklahoma 14-6, and Sims has under 100 yards for the first time in...forever! Oklahoma scores one more time, and Sims gets a few meaningless late-game carries to get his century mark. But still--a moral victory, right? Oklahoma was ranked THIRD in that nation! Whereas we were probably pegged at THIRD from the BOTTOM! Hayden must be proud, right? What an effort!
Cue the team bus. The players are slapping each other on the back, high fives all ‘round! Fuck, man, we gave the Sooners a run today, didn’t we? Sims BARELY got his hundred! Fry walks in, looks at the happy crowd of players. The difference between them, and him, is this: he doesn’t care what the score was, or how hard Sims fought to get his hundred. The Hawks lost. He is the LOSING coach.
”Next guy to smile gets a punch in the mouth.”
Silence. Stunned silence! Who IS this guy? they must’ve wondered. Didn’t he see how well we played? What’s going on? Who the hell IS this guy??
Answer: a WINNER. And they got the message: the days of being a satisfied loser are fucking OVER, son.
The rest of 1979 was rough in spots, that’s for sure. A climate can change with time, but it will change slowly: the next week, a three point loss to Nebraska. But then a convincing victory against Iowa State. And then wins against the Illini and Northwestern (by 58-6! When was the last time Iowa’d had a 52 point win? Answer: 1959) The season ends with a respectable 5-6 record, and a decent 4-4 in the
Big Two-Little Eight Big Ten.
We was just scratchin’ where it itched! And it was workin’, too!
In 1980, the team took one step back to 4-7. But there was something there, in the air, every game. Didn’t matter what the final score was, when the team took the field, they thought they had a chance! Some they lost close--ISU 10-7--and some they lost big--Nebraska 57-0--and some they won big--MSU 41-0--but it was there. The confidence. The feeling that it’s coming and it’s coming soon.
Now it’s 1981. The schedule is tough: Nebraska, ISU, and UCLA to start the year. First up, the Bugeaters. Sixty minutes later, the miracle: the Hawks are on top, 10-7. Pandemonium! Then again, some say, wait ‘till next week. ISU is tough these days. Next week comes and goes: Iowa 12, ISU 23. It was bound to happen! Always a let-down. With UCLA next, looks like a 1-2 start for sure.
Nope. John Hayden Fry wouldn’t allow it! Next one to smile gets a punch in the mouth! When the dust had settled, with the aid of a blocked punt for a TD, Iowa had taken the Bruins to task, in a convincing 20-7 win. Wait a minute--is this happening? Could this be real? Next up, the ‘Cats of Evanston.
They’d destroyed NW the year before by 52, but screw that, in 1981 we’re going to beat them by 64! Which they did. Indiana? No comebacks this time: 42-28, go to hell Hoosiers. Iowa is 4-1 for the first time since 1961. But next is Michigan, mighty Michigan, crusher of dreams and puny wanna-be programs.
This game, unbelievably, was not televised. It was shown to a lucky few thousand in the Rec Building on the Iowa campus, on closed circuit TV. I was a freshman away at
a happy place called The Institute college (7), and listened on the radio (Gene Claussen, of the Hawkeye Football Network). And when the plastic grass had settled in the Big House, Iowa had won on three Tom Nichol field goals, 9-7.
This was uncharted territory! It’s only five weeks in, and the lowly Hawks have already beaten Michigan, Nebraska, and UCLA! After that win, we are ranked SIXTH in the nation!
To an Iowa fan at the time, it was like you’d picked-up
syphilis Roseanne Barr in a tavern, but as soon as she gets back to your dorm room she’s naked-hot Clara Bow Rita Hayworth Bo Derek Jessica Alba. Naked-hot Jessica Alba? (9) What the fuck are you doing here with me, little ole Iowa? (I’ve got Buddy Holly glasses and acne! I weigh 98 pounds, ‘cmon!!) Are you sure you aren’t supposed to be in the Michigan dorm room, or the Ohio State dorm room?
Nope. She’s in the right place. Iowa dropped a couple games after that, but then closed out the year with convincing wins against Wisky, Purdue, and MSU. Still, the Rose Bowl wasn’t happening; unless, that is, OSU would beat favored Michigan, hated Michigan, dream-crusher Michigan. Hey, never bet against Art Schlichter! (10) A mad scramble for a late TD forces Michigan to cancel their Pasadena reservation and--hey, the Iowa game is still going on, random groups of people for reasons unknown start madly cheering, what’s happening, why are some people cheering?--an announcement is made in Kinnick: “From Columbus, Ohio, a final score: Ohio State 14, Michigan....”
The sentence was never completed. CHAOS erupts in the stands. Cheering, crying, and roses litter the field. I’ve been at the greatest moment in Iowa history--Houghtlin’s kick--but I’d almost trade that to have been at this one. The Hawks are going to the alpaca-humping ROSE BOWL, man! The ped mall turns into the biggest, maddest insane asylum since Bedlam.
Fry is elated: he is the winning coach against MSU. His Hawks are going to the Rose Bowl. But still, I bet he looked at the Spartan game-film and found things to piss him off. You can make a coach a winner, but you will never make him any less of a coach.
Iowa loses the Rose Bowl, and badly. (8) It is an anti-climax; it’s impossible to follow one impossibility with another so soon. In a one-sided game, true freshman QB Chuck Long makes a brief appearance, and becomes the answer to a great trivia question. At the end of the game, Fry doesn’t seem unhappy: even he realizes there are limits to his expectations. Better yet, he’s already looking ahead to next season. What some people don’t realize, is that he’s done all this with mainly Commings players. He knows what--and who--is coming ahead. And he likes it.
In 1982, he settles on that Long kid as QB. Odd, in that the lanky soph from Wheaton didn’t really throw many passes in high school, because as a slinger, he has it all: the vision, the savvy, the accuracy. The season of 1982 starts rocky as hell, with two straight losses, and many--myself included--start to wonder if we are sinking into the quicksand once again. But we win eight of the last ten, including a win against a
paid good Tennessee team in the Peach Bowl.
Life is becoming a “High Porch Picnic”: not only are we beating the Big Ten’s best, in 1983 we beat a very fine Penn State team in the best Iowa game nobody ever saw, in Happy Valley, 42-34. We beat Ohio St the very next week, 20-14, on a Long to Moritz 75 yard pass play. (11) Not satisfied with beating his opponent on the field, Fry has painted the visiting locker room pink. His reason? Pink is a “passive” color, often used in prisons and mental hospitals.
The real reason? Fry is Mr. #1 Lucky Mind-Fuck . Schembechler brings his Wolverines to town, and forces the grad assistants to paper over the pink. Fry laughs! He’s already won, you dumb-shit Wolverine assholes! He’d won the moment you bought the paper. In 1984, Iowa tars the Michiganders 26-0 in one of their worst defeats in decades. Iowa’s locker room may be Black and Gold, but its team is in the pink.
Freedom Bowl, 1984. Iowa had a great team that year, but injuries to key players--Long and Harmon foremost--set them back, and they finish 7-4-1. Their bowl invite: something
ignorable new called the Freedom Bowl, in Anaheim. They’re playing a superior Texas team that has TWO 1st Team All American defensive backs, a team that was a pre-season #1 before losing a couple in the regular season. No one gives the Hawks a chance. Long is rusty. Harmon is out with a busted scooter leg. The team is hungover from narrowly missing a Rose Bowl bid after dropping two close games to end the season.
The night before the game, home from college over Christmas break, I go out with friends and drink about a hundred Long Island Ice Teas. (12) I wake up at about two in the afternoon. I go back to bed at four pm. I wake up again and, suffering from acute gastritis, eat a paltry supper. I remember the Iowa game is today, start to pick up the phone to see if any of my buds want to go downtown to watch it, but my stomach voices a loud objection, and I slink onto the floor, my back against a red reading-pillow, and turn on the TV.
The game begins, it is raining. But Long is sharp, like he’s passing in a vacuum into which no rain can penetrate. TD pass to Hayes, TD pass to Flagg, and we’re up 14 in the first quarter. Todd Dodge of Texas throws a TD, but Iowa counters with a scoring run. Texas closes out the half with a TD and a field goal, and it’s 24-17 Iowa going into the break.
And then the future. In the third quarter, Chuck Long comes into his own. If you went and made a grilled-cheese and came back again when it was done, you would’ve missed four TD passes by Long, passes he threw as easy as falling out of bed: Happel, Smith, Helverson, and Hayes.
And that’s it! One minute it’s a game, and the next it’s Iowa 56-Texas 17, and I’m laughing! As Long threw that last TD pass to Jonathon Hayes I’m laughing my ass off! Is it because we’re winning, winning against a pretty darn good Texas team? Nope. It’s because I SEE THE FUTURE.
Cut to Fall, 1985. I remember one thing about that season in Kinnick, and it’s this: it rained about-near every damn game. Long has come back, spurning the pros, the beneficiary of a rule that says his appearance in the 1981 Rose Bowl doesn’t count against his eligibility. Harmon is back
on his scooter. Station is back. Mitchell is back. Like Otis on a weekend night in Mayberry, this team is loaded. We utterly destroy three teams in a row to start the year. MSU comes to town and shows a surprisingly good running attack (foreshadow). Down with under a minute left, Iowa faces a 4th and goal. I should add that we are ranked #1 in the nation now. Many of us wonder if that hasn’t jinxed us.
Long takes the snap, fakes to the back on a dive play. He runs right as all eyes follow the ball-carrier into the line: is he going to make it? Are we still #1?
All of a sudden, people in the stands are pointing and crying aloud, like they’ve just seen Godzilla rise from Tokyo Bay. Fuck, what are they pointing act? I wonder. Then I see it: Long raises his right arm into the air. HE’S GOT THE BALL.
Long’s got the BALL! There’s no one within a mile of him as he runs around the right side of the line. He raises the ball in the air as he crosses the goal-line. Deafness ensues. Screaming ensues. An iconic moment is born.
Crazy as this seems, that is but a prelude. Next week it’s the big one: #1 vs #2, Iowa vs Michigan. The week is one long cramp that won’t go away, as anticipation builds. As usual, it rains. A buddy and I stand in the north end zone at the top of the stairs to watch. It’s a frustrating game. Iowa clearly is the better team, and moves the ball, but circumstance and bad
calls breaks deny us touchdowns: all we muster is three field goals. Deep in Iowa territory, trying to call signals over the screaming masses in Kinnick, Michigan QB Jim Harbaugh blows milks the officials and they quiet the crowd. The ploy works. With Kinnick now subdued, a nifty shovel pass scores for the Wolverines. Before you know it, it’s late in the 4th quarter and the Wolverines have the ball and the lead, 10-9.
What happens next may be the loudest moment in Kinnick history. Iowa forces a third and three. The Musco lights are blazing, a drizzle of rain clouds the air. Between plays, the crowd chants: DEE-FENSE! DEE-FENSE! Between words, there is....silence. Actually, it’s not silence per se, because coming from somewhere--heaven? the wet skies above?--is the echo, Dee-fense, Dee-fense. Harbaugh hands off to Jamie Morris, the game is afoot, #1 vs #2, good vs evil, David vs Goliath, Spy vs Spy, King Kong vs Godzilla, Great Taste vs Less Filling....
....and from nowhere, Larry Station bullets through the line and smothers Morris for a four yard loss. I won’t try and describe the sound that emanated from that stadium, but I was there when Dallas ran the 95 yards, and Sash pitched to Hyde, and Iowa picked off a pass to beat Michigan in 2003, and I don’t know if any of them were as loud as when Morris and the ball went crashing to the ground that day. (13)
The rest is history. Long brings us downfield, with the aid of a pretty terrific run by Harmon. Houghtlin sets up the tee in the wrong place, only to be corrected by holder Mark Vlasic, and what might’ve been a blocked 28 yard attempt becomes legend at 29 yards.
The ball lands about twenty feet in front of me and fifteen to my left. The cheering lasts minutes, and it’s “Dog-pile on Houghtlin!” (and yes, there were injuries). Fans spill onto the field as the band plays “In Heaven There Is No Beer.” I grab some nearby girl, and me and five thousand others do the polka right there on the field, laughing, crying, screaming in the mist. It may seem shallow or trite to say that such a moment could be the happiest of one’s life, but if you want me to be perfectly honest, that’s about as PERFECT a moment as I’ve ever experienced: dancing an awkward polka in the rain with a girl I’d never met, the scoreboard stuck on IOWA 12 MICHIGAN 10.
The rest of the season is immaterial. After you’ve slept with the girl of your dreams, why talk about the next morning? (14)
Fry rolls along with the best group of assistant coaches in the nation: Snyder, who revolutionized Big Ten offenses, Brashier who directed a granite-nosed defense, and some guy from Pittsburgh who ran the O-line, name of Ferentz. With those guys, Hayden not only breaks an eventual nineteen-year streak of non-winning seasons, but rattles off NINE winning ones in a row.
But success for some breeds success for others, and talent finds the exit soon enough: Bill Snyder goes to K-State where he turns water into wine. Alvarez goes to Notre Dame, and settles in Wisconsin, winning three Rose Bowls. Even O-line wiz Kirk Ferentz leaves, to become coach of the Maine Black Bears. (15) New assistants come, and the Hawks continue their run with the aid of a solid QB named Matt Rodgers: they go to the Rose Bowl in 1990, and go 10-1-1 with a Holiday Bowl tie in ‘91.
But something isn’t quite the same. On a coaches’ cruise in the early 90’s, offensive line coach John O’Hara has a fatal heart attack. (16) After having star QB’s like Chuck Long and Matt Rodgers, recruited out-of-state, we seem stuck on starting Iowa prep QB’s from places like St Ansgar, Iowa City, and Cedar Rapids. Not terrible QB’s, but not exactly Chuck Hartlileb-quality, not to mention Chuck Long-quality. We didn’t know it at the time, but a New Year’s Day spent in Pasadena would never come again.
Still, three years would stand out: 1995-1997, the Tim Dwight years, the Tavian Banks years, the “if only!” years. Dwight was a comet on the field from the get-go. As a frosh, he blew up return men like Mentos jammed in a Coke. As a soph, he was a punt return phenom, a stutter-stepping dervish against the Gophers. As a junior, he was Superman as #6, a black and gold Red Grange against the Nittany Lions in a never-will-forget 21-20 win at Happy Valley. As for Tavian Banks, he saw time against Pac-10 Co-Champ Washington in the 1995 Sun Bowl, and with his smooth, gazelle-like stride had a 75-yard scamper to the Husky five yard line (there never was a more elegant runner). The next year, behind work-horse Sedrick Shaw, he showed sparks in relief. (17)
Let’s talk about Shaw for a moment. The most under-rated Iowa running back in history, the guy had it all: moves, power, and drive. Watch his game against Texas Tech in the 1996 Alamo Bowl and prepare for a spit-take on your computer screen. If we had Shaw last year, we’re basically National Champ finalists. No lie. Maybe we’d lose to ‘Bama in that game, but we sure as hell woulda’ GOT there! Helluva’ player.
Tavian in 1997 was a cut-back master, a thousand yards under his belt faster than any runner in D1 history. But then the troubles: the Iowa offense was all flash, no cash. The second half of that season was like playing six Indiana 2010 games all in a row. In the end, even with once-in-a-decade talents like Tavian and Timmy, the Hawks slumped forward into a desk chair, stone-cold dead, in a terrible performance in the 1997 Sun Bowl.
There were already rumors that Fry was past his prime. His best assistants had moved on to other pastures. Recruiting had fallen. Nevertheless, many looked upon 1998 with anticipation, as we had some talent returning, such as All-American defensive end Jared DeVries, and ace return man and receiver Kahlil Hill.
But when ISU scored to make the score 27-9 on September 12th, everyone knew something was up. After six games, we were only 3-3. That was to be the high point of a sad season. We dropped the last five to finish 3-8, the finale a pathetic display against Minnesota in Fry’s last game as Iowa coach, the losing coach in a 49-7 pasting. He might’ve punched someone in the mouth after that effort, if only he hadn’t been so tired and ready to go home. Later we found out that he’d been diagnosed with prostate cancer that season, and had been receiving radiation treatments. But that didn’t matter: we’d felt badly for him all along. He certainly deserved a better going-away party than that fiasco in Minneapolis.
But Hayden was resilient, and though he looked weary, he never asked for anyone’s sympathy. And now, I’d defy you to find a more beloved man by any fan-base, Paterno included. He’s got a street named after him in Coralville, and an annual day of celebration in his honor. Countless Iowa kids have been named
Fry Hayden after the original “Ol’ Ball Coach.” (18) He may live in Vegas, but what he did in Iowa stayed in Iowa: he made Hawkeye football what it is today. And goddammit, I don’t care if he didn’t win a Rose Bowl (19), or had a few sub-par seasons, when I think of John Hayden Fry, I think of spinning around and around on that Kinnick turf with that girl in my arms, an idiot smile plastered on my face, the band playing in the background, the mist falling on my wide-eyed, win-drenched face.
Yep, when I think of Hayden Fry, the scoreboard reads IOWA 12 MICHIGAN 10 and a High Porch Picnic awaits.
Next week: Captain Kirk
(1) DAZED AND CONFUSED is the best movie about high school since ever. Wooderson, Randall “Pink” Floyd, and stoner-crew are the best thing since a “sixer” of Lone Star beer and a party at the Moon Tower. If you haven’t seen it, Netflix it NOW.
(2) He made quite an initial impression. When he first came here, his accent was thick as cold mud. He wore sunglasses all the time, a result of a sensitive eye condition he’d developed. He had funny sayings and homilies straight from a front porch rocking chair, and a laugh that could infect a monk. But deep down, as a coach, he was serious as cholera. I think his joking manner worked for him--I’m sure he was perpetually underestimated by the opposition as overly footloose and fancy-free.
(3) Within fifteen years of leaving SMU, the Mustangs were drawn and quartered, and their program scattered across Dallas. They’re still struggling to resurrect it, twenty-plus years later. Apparently, having hookers (reputedly) in a nearby house for the players’ amusement accumulates bad karma.
(4) Giants pitcher Carl Hubbell once struck out all those guys in a row in a Major League All-Star game (across two innings, of course) in the early thirties. While I like football history, I freaking LOVE baseball history, not that any of you probably care, but this is my footnote, so there.
(5) While Fry talked big, it’s a myth that he ran a lot of exotics. What he ran a lot was draw plays on third down! There was a memorable one in the early eighties against Illinois: 3rd and 31, and Owen Gill gets 32 yards, I shat you naught. The G-D thing went for 32 yards! In another game against MSU in the eighties, we were stuck inside our own 10 with a back-up QB, and we punted--on THIRD DOWN. Fry ran only a few half-back passes, a reverse or two, and faked a couple of kicks. But not all that often (even today, the media will sometimes, and erroneously, write that he was wide-open and crazy with trick plays). And by the way, he never did run the ol’ Statue of Liberty play.
(6) Obviously, Iowa losing leads late in games to long pass plays or blown coverages is not an entirely new phenomenon.
(7) First year away from Iowa City, and Iowa goes 8-3 and gets into the Rose Bowl. That’s the kind of luck I sometimes have. To make matters worse, when we blocked a kick to score against UCLA, I could see my little brother run out into the end zone and pat the guy who scored on the back! And there I am, stuck at school the whole time, watching my lil’ bro on the ABC highlight show celebrate with the Hawks in the Kinnick end zone. Painful.
(8) This game was so embarrassing to watch, it’s tough to talk about. Iowa couldn’t do a thing on offense, and had to resort to a half-back pass to get a first down in the second half. The final score was 28-0, but trust me: it wasn’t even that close.
(9) I was tempted to say “Naked-hot Bo Derek” and leave it at that, but thought that would overly show my age. Saying “Naked-hot Jessica Alba” makes a man my age sound kinda’ pervy, maybe, but at least you young’uns can relate to it.
(10) See what I did there? Schlichter was the first guy I ever heard of who had a “Gambling Addiction.” And my Colts were dumb enough to draft him, too. Schlichter was genuinely a sick guy, and got himself in trouble with mobsters and into twelve kinds of shit as a result. His story would make a terrific movie, if directed by Scorcese.
(11) That Penn State game was something else. It was high scoring, and Ronnie Harmon made the greatest catch in Iowa history that nobody remembers (I saw footage of it once, and it’s Hinkle-esque). As for Moritz, his long TD pass was hilarious: he was clearly slower than the OSU defensive back, but kept serpentining here and there with that DB a half-step behind him for SEVENTY yards. At any second you KNEW Moritz was going to get caught--but he never did. By the time he scored, we were all laughing out loud.
(12) This is no exaggeration. We were at the old Field House and they had a special: $2 Long Island Ice Teas in those big old yellow plastic Field House cups that everyone had back in the eighties. There’s only one detail that sticks out about that night: Dire Strait’s MONEY FOR NUTHIN’ was being played continually on the stereo system. I think. Really, I can’t be sure. Anyway, I THINK I was at the Fieldhouse....
(13) If push comes to shove, I’d rate the whole games of Iowa-Michigan 2003 and Iowa-Wisconsin this year as louder. But for single moments, the Station tackle and Houghtlin kick probably can’t be beat. It was awesome, in the better, old fashioned sense of that word. As for the ‘86 Rose Bowl, game of the Four Fumbles and the UCLA Running Back Juggernaut, the less said the better.
(14) The rest of the season didn’t match the build-up and denouement of that Michigan epic: a rainy loss at OSU, then the UCLA disaster in the Rose Bowl. I danced with that girl on the field, and never saw her again. The “slept with” reference refers to that wonderful game compared to the rest of the season--and not that lovely lass, alas!
(15) We all know the coaching tree, but we lost other important guys like Bernie Wyatt, who was the ace recruiter (and I recall went with Alvarez to Wisconsin), and Carl Jackson, who moved on to the 49ers, and so on. After 1992, when O’Hara died, the program never truly recovered from those assistant losses.
(16) If I recall, this was on the annual fans-coaches cruise. I cannot imagine how awful this must have been, like watching the Space Shuttle Challenger blow up with that schoolteacher on board. One minute you’re partying and having a great time with the coaches in the Caribbean--the next, one of them lies cold in the ship’s morgue. Terrible.
(17) Tavian was really good, but didn’t play much until his senior year. What I heard was that he was allergic to blocking, and couldn’t pick up a blitz to save a burning child. Imagine if he COULD’VE blocked, what a tandem he and Sedrick would’ve made! Best in Iowa history. But he couldn’t block, or so I’m told. In my lifetime, he’s the best back that played only one full season out of the four he was on the squad.
(18) Sorry Steve Spurrier, but Hayden is the original Ol’ Ball Coach to me.You, sir, are an impostor!
(19) As great as Hayden was, he never was that good at prepping teams for bowl games. I can’t explain why, since he was so good at winning other big games. He always beat ISU like a mule, he beat Michigan and OSU sometimes, and he put teams away early and wasn’t afraid to run up the score a little. But in Rose Bowls, all three, we lost pretty reasonably badly. And in the Holiday Bowls, we either tied or almost lost to lesser teams. His shining moment was that Freedom Bowl, plus convincing Sun Bowl and Alamo Bowl wins, but only a fool would take a convincing Lesser Bowl win over the cheapest Rose Bowl win.