HAYDEN FRY'S "Top 25" - Honorable Mention

Discussion in 'Football' started by GVGiant44, Mar 13, 2020.

  1. GVGiant44

    GVGiant44 Well-Known Member

    MICHIGAN STATE, 1985. I know, I know – the bootleg, the first game ever with Iowa at #1, a fantastic finish. And almost EVERY top 10 list has this game in it. To me, the Spartans were a bunch of pretenders that exposed us that day – something curiously never taken advantage of again until UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Let's be clear about something here - MSU was NOT a great team – not even a good one. Even pedestrian Minnesota got end–of–the–season votes in the final polls – Michigan State did not. Had this been the spring–board play to Chuck Long winning the Heisman Trophy, I might feel differently. But when that didn't happen, the importance of this game, in the grand scheme of things, went way down, at least to me - a game we should have won handily, but barely did;

    UCLA, 1981. I'm not sure why this game is either in a lot of Top Ten’s or just outside of it. Yes, the Bruins were a good team, but we had already shown we could beat good teams when we took down Nebraska two weeks earlier. And UCLA, regardless of where they were rated when we beat them, did not finish in the Top 20 – in ANY poll. Hayden had a LOT of wins like this in his career. A good win, but there are many better ones;

    PENN STATE, 1983. A lot of people also have this win in their Top Ten’s. OK, that 1983 team was one of Iowa’s better teams, with their only legitimate loss being to Michigan on a last–second FG following a late Richard Bass fumble (and a bowl game where the weather in Iowa made preparation for the bowl nearly impossible and allowed Fry to show EXACTLY why we needed a practice bubble). Conversely, it was one of Penn State’s worst teams in quite some time. And yet, even with the game being in Iowa City, we barely beat them, even if it was a truly "offensive" game, 42-34. The years of perspective tells me there were better wins, even if this was Joe Paterno and Penn State;

    HAWAII, 1984. I know – wait, what?? But after getting our hats handed to us, going 0–2–1 in our previous three regular season games (and with two early-season losses to Penn State and Ohio State), we needed this to save even a little face, not to mention a bowl bid from a new bowl that wanted us in the worst way. And after 3 quarters, we were down 6–3, and the running back that replaced Ronnie Harmon and his broken leg (in the Wisconsin game), now had a torn ACL. But in a move that introduced Hayden Fry, Kirk Ferentz and others to a new concept of preparation called “next man in”, brought in a young man that the Hawkeye staff had to just take a chance on, since there were no films available from the tiny high school in Hugo, Minnesota - a young freshman named Rick Bayless. Listening to the game on WHO late, late that Saturday night, I couldn’t even make out Jim Zabel’s pronunciation of the name. I just knew that he kept getting the ball and gaining significant chunks of yardage. We scored two 4th–qtr. TD’s to send us to the Freedom Bowl and an eventual HUGE win over Texas.

    ILLINOIS, 1982 and 1985. Two very different games in very different circumstances – but in both cases, the Illini came into Iowa City expecting to do great things – and with teams that were at least one of the pre-season favorites to win the Big 10. I don’t want to talk about the ’82 game or team much. Suffice to say a goal–line stand, combined with a pooch punt for the ages by sophomore place-kicker Tom Nichol snuffed out the heavily favored Illini, 14–13. But between the ’85 game and the ’90 game (which will be in the top 25), I’m not sure that the football program in Champaign has ever – EVER recovered from those games. And why it is Illinois that Hayden could chomp out a win against a top team with a ridiculous score of 59–0 I’m not sure. Still, we went on to more bigger and better things – Illinois went on to six different head coaches – or is it eight (including two interims)?;

    ROSE BOWLS, 1982, 1986, 1991. Yes, it REALLY hurts that this is where these games fall - what a shame that these are relegated to also–ran status. Remember - I'm not looking at the build-up that led to games, or the historic nature of finally being in them. My top 25 focuses on games that defined the career of Hayden Fry. No doubt, having a program NOT named Michigan or Ohio State going to three Rose Bowls has to account for something, which is why they are on this page. But there was almost nothing to look back at with any fondness in any of those Rose Bowls, except for maybe the 2nd half of the 1991 contest, after we fell hopelessly behind in the 1st half. They rate among the worst games we played in the Hayden era. And in some ways, it doesn't make sense, especially since we were able to play well in other bowl games. What makes it worse is that only the 1991 Washington team could be considered a truly elite opponent - and that was the team we did the best against of the three Rose Bowls. Maybe one day, in my lifetime, an Iowa team will go to Pasadena, and play well - and maybe win. But I turn 60 next month, and I'm still waiting.

    NEXT POST: #25
  2. hawkeyebob62

    hawkeyebob62 Well-Known Member

    1983 also had a 33-0 loss to Illinois, and the PSU game was AT Happy Valley.
  3. GVGiant44

    GVGiant44 Well-Known Member

    I was going over these one final time and spotted this. Regarding the Penn State game, yes I had goofed - the game was at Penn State, though my feeling about where the game fell in my rankings did not change.

    But I had NO intention of making mention of that "other" game. That Illinois team was more crooked than a mountain pass road - they ended up having to forfeit those games that year. So no, we didn't lose a game in that neighboring state that year. It highlighted the difference between how Hayden did things and how other pretenders tried.
  4. NCHawker

    NCHawker Well-Known Member

  5. hawkdrummer1

    hawkdrummer1 Well-Known Member

    I would suggest UCLA '81 could have been bigger than Nebraska '81. It proved that the Nebraska game was no fluke. B1G teams also traditionally struggled against PAC10 teams that were quicker and more open offensively. (much more the case in the 70s and 80s even than now)