From west Texas to eastern Iowa, Hayden Fry is being remembered after his passing on Tuesday night. The Hall of Fame coach led the Hawkeyes to three Big Ten championships during his tenure. He also made a huge impact off the field, especially to his players.
Hawkeye Headquarters reporter Adam Rossow takes a look at Fry’s legacy through the eyes of three former Hawkeyes:
“It’s hard to say there’s going to be another person like Coach Fry,” Craig Clark said.
One of a kind.
“You know, when you meet the guy, that he’s a very good coach,” Myron Keppy said.
A college football legend.
“Coming from DeWitt, you know, Coach Fry, he is second to God, right?” Rob Huber said.
The deity of the Hawkeye state.
Hayden Fry was that and more to Iowa football.
Craig Clark played for Fry in the 1980s.
“People still talk to me about Hayden Fry,” Clark said. “People still ask me questions about what it was like to play at Iowa. I’m 55 years old now. For me, he’s Coach Fry, but for people that didn’t play football at Iowa, they were on a first-name basis with him. He was Hayden.”
And Hayden endeared himself to generations of Iowans through that down-home Texas personality.
“He always had good stories to tell,” Huber said. “And maybe they were football related, maybe they weren’t football related, but they all tied together and I think made people feel related to him. You know, being able to sit down, he wasn’t this football coach at the University of Iowa, he was your neighbor sitting down and chatting with you.”
Fry’s unique ability to connect with people also produced success on the football field.
Huber said Fry’s ability to motivate each individual was the catalyst for the team’s ascension to the top of the Big Ten.
“He’d meet you. He’d get to know you. He’d find what made you tick and what made you want to perform. And he took the time to do that for everyone on the team.”
“You know, he’d kind of laugh and joke and have a good time with them, and then there was a time to be serious,” Keppy said. “It was a fine line, but you knew when it was time to work.”
A balance between work and play — another lesson taken from Coach Fry’s playbook on life.
“You know, the skills that you come out of that program with that he brought in helped me with my professional job,” Huber said. “It helped me with my family. It helped me on the football field.”
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