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Remembering Hayden Fry (1929-2019), An Iowa Treasure

Courtesy of University of Iowa Athletics
Hayden Fry was head football coach at the University of Iowa from 1978-1998. Fry passed away earlier this week at the age of 90.

Hayden Fry came to Iowa to coach the Hawkeye football team in 1978. When he got here the Hawks had been through 17 consecutive non-winning seasons. It took a couple of years, but Coach Fry transformed Hawkeye Football.

During his tenure, he won 143 games, the team shared three Big Ten titles, and went to three Rose Bowls. In addition to being a great coach, he was also a larger than life character. He was funny, smart, tough and could throw a temper tantrum with the best of them. His players loved him. The fans loved him. And he loved them back.

When Coach Fry retired in 1998 he was the winningest coach in school history.

His record was broken by his successor Kirk Ferentz. Fry hired Ferentz to be his offensive line coach in 1981 when Ferentz was a 25-year-old graduate assistant coach at the University of Pittsburgh. Yesterday at a press conference Ferentz took some time to reflect on how Fry affected him as a coach and a person.

"I didn't have a resume that would merit real opportunity here, but he took a chance on me. And then more importantly, once I was here, he served as a mentor and a role model on a daily basis. And since that time, he's also been a cherished friend," said Ferentz.

"The guy just did a unbelievable job here... It's hard to go anywhere and not run into people that somehow, someway have a coach Fry story. It's just his reach was really, really unbelievable from that standpoint." 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, we remember Fry's legacy, his impact on the football program, and his impact on the state of Iowa. 

Guests Include:

  • Mike Hlas, Sports Columnist, The Gazette
  • Bruce Kittle, Co-Captain 1982 University of Iowa Rose Bowl Team
  • Danan Hughes, Former Wide Receiver, University of Iowa 1991 Rose Bowl Team
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk