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Howe’s Friday 5: Remembering Hayden, Life After Bohannon

December 20, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Hawkeye Nation

IOWA CITY, Iowa – It’s been a rough week for Iowa’s two revenue sports. Legendary football coach Hayden Fry passed away on Tuesday. The day before, the Hawkeyes announced star guard Jordan Bohannon would miss the remainder of the season because he needed another hip surgery.

While there is marked sadness in Hawkeye Nation, particularly with the Fry news, many fans are approaching it with positivity. And that’s becoming more rare these days.

People are choosing to remember Fry’s impact on football and society. With Bohannon, there’s a sense of relief that he’ll put the pain behind him, returning with a vengeance next year.

Let’s dig a little deeper into those stories and three others in the latest Howe’s Friday 5:

5. Since this is the last “5” before Christmas, I wanted to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Whatever you celebrate, I hope it’s fantastic.

With longtime HawkeyeNation.com publisher Jon Miller recently announcing his “retirement” from this platform, you guys are stuck with me. I’m hoping we can keep rolling the train Jon did such a great job engineering for the last two decades.

We’ve got some exciting additions coming your way. They include podcasts, written content and more. Stay tuned for additional announcements. And tell your Hawkeye friends to stop by. The more traffic here, the better chance we have to keep it all free.

Thanks for you support.

4. If you haven’t been paying attention, Iowa’s Holiday Bowl opponent is dealing with unrest. The sentiment among fans is that they’d like to move on from head coach Clay Helton. The athletic department is bringing him back next season.

A lot of fan bases call for coaching changes. But the voices are loud in Los Angeles. They’re annoyed that new AD Mike Bohn retained Helton, thinking he was out, which often is the case when a new person take over the department.

Helton’s lame-duck status played a part in USC’s abnormally average recruiting class it signed Wednesday. That served as another gut-punch for the Trojan followers.

It’s hard knowing what to expect from USC in this bowl game. Will players rally around their coach or will they pound another nail in his coffin?

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3. I don’t begrudge any college football player for transferring if they feel blocked on their current roster. It just works out that way sometimes, especially at quarterback.

Kicker mirrors quarterback in that there is only one starter and normally that guy plays exclusively. With a five-year window before eligibility runs out, I get players moving on. And three of the four quarterbacks in this year’s College Football Playoff are transfers.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with staying put. You never know what’s going happen. Just ask Keith Duncan.

After starting as Iowa’s kicker as a true freshman in ’16, including delivering a game-winning kick against unbeaten Michigan, Miguel Recinos beat him out the next two seasons. Duncan stayed. He worked.

He won the job again this fall. He set a Big Ten record for field goals in a season. Thursday, it was announced that he became the 26th player in Hawkeye history to earn consensus All-American honors.

Duncan said he never considered leaving Iowa. It’s sure glad he didn’t.

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2. There’s no doubt Iowa is a better team with Bohannon playing. Time will tell how much it misses him this season.

His teammates knew his exit likely was coming. He couldn’t practice and pain was winning out.

Bohannon did help the Hawkeyes to an 8-3 start, surpassing most preseason expectations from the outside. He also prepared back-court performers that will be eating up his vacated minutes. Freshmen CJ Fredrick and Joe Toussaint said as much during interviews on Thursday.

Pressure was relieved with Bohannon allowing the youngsters time to transition into high-major college basketball. They became better prepared for what will come their way now.

1. Saying someone or something is larger than life can be an overused phrase. With Fry, it’s appropriate and accurate.

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He won enough games to earn his place in the College Football Hall of Fame. He turned around an Iowa program with 15 consecutive non-winning seasons before he arrived. He succeeded whenever he put a whistle around his neck.

Helping end Michigan and Ohio State’s strangle-hold on the Big Ten by getting to the Rose Bowl in ’81, his third season, was an incredible achievement. There weren’t 5,000 bowls and a national playoff. A series of epic wins, including against the Wolverines in ’85 and at The Shoe in ’87, continued throughout his career in Iowa City.

He had the visitor’s locker room painted pink for what he believed was a psychological advantage, created the Tigerhawk logo, modeled the uniforms after the NFL’s dominant team of the time, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and watched the long-running network TV Show, Coach, be based on him. He taught Roy Orbison in school and rubbed shoulders with US presidents.

His legend stretches well beyond the final score and memorable moments, however. That’s because of Hayden the human.

Fry’s greatest achievement was helping integrate the Southwest Conference while coaching at SMU. Bringing receiver Jerry LeVias into the program in ’65 created tension, brought death threats and put his career in jeopardy.

Fry also stepped up during the national farm crisis of the ’80s and called for support. He created the ANF (America Needs Farmers) decal still worn on Hawkeye helmets today.

If you’re unfamiliar with either to these stories, I encourage you to research them. I think they lay the foundation of understanding Fry.

They were microcosms of how he lived his life every day. He loved people and he let them know it by making them feel important. It’s why when he passed thousands of stories surfaced about him touching others.

That’s how I’ll remember Hayden Fry.

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