Hello my Friend! I’m a Hawkeye, sis boom bah!!!!
I saw an article floating around on Facebook today and just had to give a little love to my state…and CW calls me “corn-fed” every chance he gets. I take it as a compliment…Oh–for you who are just startin to get to know me–yep, I’m from Iowa. Greatest college EVA!!! That would be the University of Iowa–not Iowa State–big difference people…
My CW is even a fan when needed (we need to break out those awesome overalls again, they’re still in the closet)…Love that he even has construction-looking boots on–so fitting in Iowa. Hey girls, remember when those boots were the fad in college (well, along with gangsta jackets, oversized, plain flannels and vests)? Yeah, the boys really got screw-jobbed on the fashion front when we were in school. How did so many of you marry your college boyfriends haha??? I’m sure they wish they were there now when the fad is to just be half-naked…
Here’s the article that was on Wall Street Journal online. H*ll to the yeah!!!
Iowa: The Harvard of Coaching
How Hawkeye Great Hayden Fry Raised a Bumper Crop of Coaches; The ‘Bell Cow’ Theory
It’s no secret which college football programs produce the most NFL players. Schools like Texas, Ohio State and Florida do pretty well in that category.
But tucked away in the heart of Big Ten country, somewhat removed from the national spotlight, there’s a different sort of football factory—one that specializes in coaches.
With a list of graduates that ranges from Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema to a crop of notable coordinators and assistants like Florida State’s Mark Stoops, Iowa has been the undergraduate home to 16 of the nearly 1,200 head coaches and assistants working in Division I college football.
That’s three more than Florida, four more than Michigan, 10 more than Notre Dame and four times the number from Wisconsin, Southern California and Stanford. When you include coaches who were assistants at Iowa but didn’t play there, the list includes former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez and current Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz, among others.
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Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel, who has two former Iowa players on his football staff, said that when you consider how many coaches the school has produced, it would be fair to call Iowa “the Harvard of the profession.”
Iowa’s unsurpassed track record at turning college kids into successful football coaches is due, in large part to one man: Hayden Fry. During his tenure from 1979 until 1998—in which he went 143-89-6 and led Iowa to 14 bowl games and three Big Ten titles—Fry quietly built a system designed to groom potential coaches.
“Every one of us has come through Hayden Fry,” said William Inge, Buffalo’s defensive coordinator. “He’s the one who molded us into the coaches we’ve become.”
“Not one of us would have gotten the opportunity to coach without Hayden,” said Iowa graduate and North Texas coach Dan McCarney, who keeps a photo of Fry in his office.
In an interview, from his home in Mesquite, Nev., Fry, who is now 82 years old, said his approach to inspiring future coaches stemmed from the lessons he learned from his father while growing up on a farm in Odessa, Texas.
Fry’s father would tell him he couldn’t go to school until he filled the pickup with hay and fed the cows. “I said, ‘Daddy, we have 2,000 acres and creeks and trees, how am I going to find all those cows?’” Fry said. “He said, ‘All you have to do is drive out and listen. One cow is the leader, the bell cow. Find the bell cow, and you find the whole herd.”
The “bell cow” theory not only stuck, it became a tenet of Fry’s coaching philosophy. As a coach, Fry took he unusual step of tapping certain players to serve as player-coaches for their position groups. The idea, he said, was that they would develop leadership skills that could benefit the team on Saturdays. “A few of those guys hopped on their motorcycles and left,” Fry said. “The ones who stayed became my coaches, because those are the guys who players will listen to, not an old coach like me.”
Upon graduation, those “bell cows” who wanted to pursue coaching careers had an easier time of it than they did at other schools. The second phase of Fry’s development process was to give the students entry-level coaching jobs on his staff—usually as graduate assistants. Of the 16 Iowa players now coaching elsewhere, 13 coached at the school early in their careers, including 10 who started as graduate assistants.
Though it’s not unusual for football players to return to their alma maters as graduate assistants, having so many of them go on to become successful coaches elsewhere is particular to Iowa. At Florida State, the school that finished No. 2 on the list to Iowa with 15 alums currently coaching, only four of those coaches started as graduate assistants there.
Several of Iowa’s former assistants say Fry was a prolific mentor because he wouldn’t hire an assistant unless he believed that assistant was capable of becoming a head coach some day. He also trusted his assistant coaches more than anyone they’ve worked for.
“When you came on his staff, you’d better be ready to coach because he wasn’t going to sit you down and tell you what he wanted you to do,” said Bill Brashier, who coached under Fry for more than 20 years.
“He hired you because he knew you’d do what you were supposed to, and he was one of the few head coaches who really believed it.”
After spending just one year as Fry’s tight-ends coach—an entry level, part-time position that came with little major responsibility—McCarney said that Fry was impressed enough to offer him a job as the defensive-line coach. McCarney, an offensive lineman who’d never played or coached defense in his life, was thrown into the fire.
“You can either teach or you can’t, and he knows that,” McCarney said. “He knew more about what we could do that we knew. You can’t imagine the kind of confidence and motivation that gives you. It makes you feel like you can’t let him down.”
Fry said his knack for picking talent stemmed from another lesson he learned—the hard way—from his father. In the 1930s, when Fry was around 9 or 10, he said his father dragged him to the barn and started beating him with a horsewhip for no apparent reason. After a while, his father explained that he’d beat him because he wanted him to remember the lesson he was about to teach him for the rest of his life. “Then he said, ‘Son, I don’t know what you’re going to become, but if you want to be successful, you better surround yourself with winners.’”
When his coaches were ready to move on, Fry was gifted at singing their praises. “ADs would always call and ask for permission to interview my assistants, and I’d say that if you interview him, you’ll hire him,” Fry said. Bump Elliott, Iowa’s athletic director during most of Fry’s tenure, said Fry’s recommendations went a long way.
If there’s anyone who ranks second to Fry in influence, it’s Florida State’s Bobby Bowden, who coached at the school from 1976 to 2009, and whose progeny includes South Florida’s Skip Holtz and Texas’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Chris Massaro, athletic director at Middle Tennessee, said he hired football coach Rick Stockstill in part because of his experience playing for Bowden.
Next week, Fry will have a good opportunity to see his legacy in action when Iowa plays Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl. he game will pit Iowa’s Ferentz, a former Fry assistant, against Bob Stoops, a former Iowa player and graduate assistant.
“I think of these guys as my sons and I follow and watch them all,” Fry said. “It makes you feel good, like you really made a difference in people’s lives.”
You got an A+ for reading that long article, but pretty cool huh??? Super stoked that we are seriously #1 on that list!!! My Florida State and Auburn readers will be happy too….we beat ya Florida!!! Ok, yes, I have an aresenal of Florida Gator gear and I am a huge fan for the Wilson boys–
but, if it’s a competition between us and Florida, DONE. This was the last Outback Bowl they were here in Tampa…see, we support each other’s teams…
Loved the TWO Outback Bowls when Iowa played Florida. We won one, they won one. This pic is in our house…just noticed CW’s button. Rude.
We travel back to Iowa City too….Ellen went to Penn State if you’re wonderin why J&E are both in blue…and for that matter, why is Steichen wearing WHITE and pink??? Hello, Steich…….
How cute are my P’s?
Love me some cold weather!!! Bring on the snow. Well, actually this was the 2008 Iowa-Penn State game and without hindsight being 20/20, we left in the last quarter because we thought we were for sure going to lose. My legs were frozen solid (I mean to the point that they hurt) and no amounts of hot chocolate were going to work. We ended up at the Airliner (mmm..pizza) to see the last of the game…and we ending up WINNING by a point!!!! We all vowed to never repeat that. So….don’t tell anyone, ok? Here’s what happened. How embarrasing that we left that game..
This was at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving a couple years back…it’s a sin to not have an Iowa flag hanging loud and proud…
Even our pups participate at Halloween…
We are 100% going back for a game next year. We, meaning You–if you went there. Who’s in???????