Friday, October 15, 2004

Move Over, Miami of Ohio, Here's Hayden Fry of Iowa


As Hayden Fry used to say, "It goes on and on."

And, in this case, it certainly does go on and on.

The number of major-college coaches who learned their basics from Fry, the former football coach at Iowa, is astounding.

And Chuck Schoffner, the veteran sports editor at the Associated Press bureau in Des Moines, has authored a well-researched and well-written story about it.

A copy of the story was sent to me by George Wine, Iowa's retired sports information director and the co-author of Fry's book, "Hayden Fry--A High Porch Picnic."

Wine said the story was sent to him by his son, Steve, who is sports editor of the AP's bureau in Miami, Fla.

The story:

AP Sports Writer

IOWA CITY, Ia. (AP)--Six years after coaching his last football
game, Hayden Fry leads the relaxed life of a retiree in the Nevada desert
outside Las Vegas.

No more early morning staff meetings. No more game plans to draw up.

Yet Fry's influence is still felt in the game to which he devoted his
life--and should for years to come.

Seven of his former assistants or players at Iowa, where he coached
for 20 years, are head coaches at Division I-A schools. Six others who worked or
played under Fry for the Hawkeyes are offensive or defensive coordinators at I-A

Miami of Ohio has long claimed to be the "cradle of coaches,"
producing the likes of Woody Hayes, Ara Parseghian, Bo Schembechler, Paul Brown and Jim Tressel.

But with Fry's ever expanding coaching tree, Iowa at least deserves a
spot in the nursery.

"Since we all first assembled in 1979 with Hayden, you look around the
country and since that time, I don't know that there's one that's put out
more," said Iowa State coach Dan McCarney, a former Iowa player and assistant.

"I've got to believe that Hayden is on top of that whole thing when
you compare head coaches and where their guys are going and the success
they've had."

The other head coaches who worked for Fry at Iowa are Kansas State's
Bill Snyder, Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez, South Florida's Jim Leavitt and his
successor with the Hawkeyes, Kirk Ferentz.

Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and his brother, Mike, who's in his first season
as Arizona's head coach, were defensive backs for Fry, then worked as
graduate and volunteer assistants. Don Patterson of Division I-AA Western Illinois spent 21 years at Fry's side as an assistant.

Another Stoops brother, Mark, is the defensive coordinator at Arizona.
He also played in the secondary at Iowa and was a graduate assistant.

Former Iowa assistants Del Miller (offense) and Bob Elliott (defense)
are Snyder's coordinators at Kansas State. Chuck Long, who as Iowa's
quarterback led the Hawkeyes to the 1985 Big Ten championship, is the offensive
coordinator at Oklahoma.

Former Iowa safety Jay Norvell is the offensive coordinator at
Nebraska and Bret Bielema, a defensive lineman at Iowa, is Wisconsin's
defensive coordinator.

"Coach Fry was a psychology major and a great motivator," Patterson

"He always had an idea what to say to players or coaches. The things I say
to our coaches are the same things that Hayden said. We all learned a lot
from coach and we've put what we learned to great use."

They certainly have done that.

Snyder masterminded perhaps the greatest turnaround in college
football history at Kansas State. Bob Stoops guided Oklahoma to the national
championship in 2000. Alvarez has had three Rose Bowl teams at Wisconsin.

Under Ferentz, Iowa shared the 2002 Big Ten title and made
back-to-back January bowl appearances for the first time.

McCarney is the only coach in Iowa State history to make three straight bowl appearances,and Patterson has been in the I-AA playoffs three times since 1999 at Western Illinois.

Leavitt, a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1989, has won 66 percent of
his games in seven-plus seasons at South Florida.

"Hayden did a marvelous job evaluating guys and plugging them in to
the right spot," said ESPN analyst Bill Curry, who coached at Alabama,
Kentucky and Georgia Tech. "Then once you got on the staff, you had Hayden pulling for you when other jobs came up."

At one point in the 1980s, Fry had Snyder as his offensive
coordinator, Ferentz as the offensive line coach, McCarney as the defensive line coach, Patterson coaching tight ends, Alvarez coaching the linebackers and Miller as recruiting coordinator.

It's no coincidence that Iowa was one of the Big Ten's best teams at
the time, making three Rose Bowl trips and six other bowl appearances between
1981 and 1990. Before 1981, the Hawkeyes had gone 20 straight years without a winning season.

Could it have been the best staff in college football?

"I think in retrospect, you could say that," said Ferentz, who was an
Iowa assistant from 1981-89 and returned as head coach after Fry retired in

"Still in history that's one of the better turnaround jobs that's ever been

"I think that was coach Fry's real gift. He's got many of them, but
one of his biggest strengths is being able to pick the right people, not only
coaches but also players. Then he knew what buttons to hit with those people that he picked."

Along with a staff filled with future head coaches, Iowa in the
mid-1980s had Long at quarterback--he was an All-American and the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1985--and Norvell playing in the secondary. Bob Stoops was
helping as a graduate assistant after finishing his playing career in 1982.

Long never thought about coaching then. But after eight seasons in the
NFL, he returned to Iowa to coach the defensive backs and quarterbacks, then
went to Oklahoma in 2000.

"As I got toward the end of my (playing) career, I felt a calling to
get into coaching," Long said. "A big reason why was how they treated me at
Iowa, how they treated the players, how well they taught us. I thought, hey,
that's my calling. I want to do the same thing for young men.

"A lot of what I do, some of that comes from Hayden Fry and what he
taught us."

Miami has turned out a number of good coaches over the years, but
looking at today's coaching crop, Patterson thinks Iowa's day has come.

"Miami of Ohio used to be the cradle of coaches. Not anymore," he

"It's the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa."


Jim Tressel, who is in his fourth season as Ohio State's coach, has a 35-9 record. But the Buckeyes will be trying to avoid their first 0-3 Big Ten start since 1988 when they play Iowa tomorrow.


Californian Uncle Bob, aka Bob Nicholas, the uncle of former Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler and present Hawkeye tight end Scott Chandler, sent this e-mail to me today:


Your articles from great games in the past really got
me ready for the big game tomorrow. I wish I would
have had a Big 10 connection to introduce me earlier
in my life (you know, for the wonderful history).
Somehow, after my trip to watch the Michigan game at
Kinnick last year, my football reality has changed.
We have lots of good teams out here in the west, but
somehow it's not quite the same.

I've got a good feeling about this one.

Go Hawks!

Best Regards,

Uncle Bob

P.S. -- Unfortunately, no more news from Nate.

[NOTE: Great hearing from you again, Uncle Bob. After earlier thinking--and even predicting--that Ohio State would beat Iowa in a close game tomorrow, I'm feeling good about the Hawkeyes' chances, too. And I hope there's something good to report about your nephew Nate in the NFL one of these days, too].


My larger-than-life postcard arrived in the mail today.

It cost 37 cents in postage for the Purdue athletic department to send, and the idea is to promote Kyle Orton for the Heisman Trophy, the Davey O'Brien Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the All-America team.

That's Kyle Orton of Altoona, Ia. -- just east of Des Moines.

That's Kyle Orton, former Southeast Polk High School standout.

That's Kyle Orton, who has his own website.

That's Kyle Orton, whose Boilermakers have a Nov. 6 date with Iowa at Kinnick Stadium.

On the front of the postcard it says "HEISMAN TROPHY CANDIDATE. Leading the Charge."

On the other side of the postcard it says:

"Kudos for Kyle.

"As the 2004 college football season reaches the halfway point, Kyle Orton has established himself as one of the country's outstanding players. He leads the nation in points responsible for with an average of 24.0 per game and in passing touchdowns with 18. He ranks second with a 181.6 passing efficienty rating and is third with 340.8 yards of total offense per game.

"More important, Orton has led the Boilermakers to a 5-0 record, including three consecutive road wins at Illinois, Notre Dame and Penn State, and a No. 5 national ranking in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

[NOTE: Orton is certainly my favorite for the Heisman and all the other quarterback awards. If the talented passer can do a job on Bret Bielema's Wisconsin defense tomorrow, he'll attract even more Heisman voters].

Vol. 4, No. 268
Oct. 15, 2004