Hayden Fry I have a Question for You

Why did you stand up your Tight Ends?

The Iowa Hawkeyes in the 1980s and 1990s had a pro style offense with the Tight End lined up tight just as in any other normal formation. But, instead of the Tight End in a 3 point stance with his hand on the ground, their offense had the Tight End standing straight up with his hands on his hips.

Looked kind of cool, and nobody else had ever done it before or since, but my question for Hayden Fry is why. What was the purpose in standing your Tight End like that?

Blocking 101 says get your pad level lower than the defenders pads and that’s a harder thing to accomplish if you are standing up straight.

There’s a reason why sprinters put hands on the ground when sprinting. You get a faster start if you push off from a low stance which makes running a pass route less efficient when you are standing up straight.

But, Hayden Fry put the Iowa Hawkeyes on the map back in those years, so if he wanted to stand up his Tight Ends I am all for it.

Plus, it looked kind of cool.

Hayden Fry is my mother’s age. My mom passed away last year, but Fry is still alive and kicking last time I checked and he must be doing well.

Fry grew up in far West Texas and attended Baylor to play Quarterback. He never was much of a standout under center at Baylor and never started, but he did play and the team was decent in those years. Younger fans, again, may not realize that Baylor was another one of those bottom dwellers for years in the old Southwest Conference.

Hayden Fry was a high school head football coach at the ripe old age of 26 and held that job for 3 years before being hired by Baylor as an assistant coach.

The Southern Methodist University Mustangs hired Fry before the 1962 season to take over as head football coach.

SMU is not an easy place to win unless you take the road of the football team in the late 1970s and early to mid 1980s when they were an elite football team but did a lot of cheating to get there. But, the road that SMU took lead to a huge barricade and the death penalty.

Fry went 2-8 with the Ponies that first year in 1962. It never really got all that much better in Dallas, but he did produce two 8 win seasons. Fry was fired after going 7-4 in 1972.

Over all, his record at SMU was an unimpressive 49-66-1.

One of Hayden Fry’s best accomplishments at SMU was becoming the first SWC school to sign a black football player in Jerry Levias. I have a post coming out about Levias some time soon.

After Fry was fired at SMU, he was quickly hired by North Texas State University which is now UNT to lead their football program.

Fry was coaching the Eagles, now the Mean Green, when Bobby Bowden and Florida State came to town in 1976 which I wrote about here: Bowden vs Fry in freak snow storm

Hayden Fry saved his career in Denton, Texas at North Texas State University when he led them to a 40-23-3 record. Fry did well there, but had his eyes on a bigger program that had more love for football.

The Iowa Hawkeyes came calling and Hayden Fry jumped on the chance. When he took over at NTSU, the Eagles were considering dropping football and he resurrected that program. Now, he was being challenged with another football program that had not had much recent success. The Hawkeyes won the Big 10 Conference championship in 1956, 1958 and tied for it again in 1960. But, head

coach Forest Evashevski resigned after the 1960 season and things went down hill quickly after that. The Iowa Hawkeyes football team had a 67-129-5 won loss record in the 20 years before Hayden Fry. Their worst season was in 1973 when the Hawkeyes went 0-11. But, there were several 1 win years and some 2 win years and a lot of horrible records.

Although, Hayden Fry may never go down in the record books as one of the nation’s best coaches. He may have even failed at SMU but he was definitely the right man at the right time for the gridiron success starving Iowa Hawkeyes.

After struggling with a 5-6 and 4-7 records starting out, but then Fry and his Hawkeyes shocked the nation by tying for the Big 10 championship with the traditionally tough Ohio State Buckeyes. Naturally, the Buckeyes had been to the Rose Bowl many times since the Hawkeyes had last been, so Iowa got it’s first trip to Pasadena in more than 20 years.


That was Iowa’s first bowl game in 22 years, but just the first of 14 bowl games while Hayden Fry was their coach.

One of the nation’s worst football programs transformed dramatically under Hayden Fry. His

Hawkeyes powered through a 143-89-6 record during his days on the sidelines.


Hayden Fry’s career at Iowa reminds me much of Bill Snyder and what he’s done at Kansas State. What’s interesting about that comparison, at least to me, is that Fry and Snyder both had a lot of guys either play for them or coached under them that went on to head coaching positions. Bill Snyder actually coached under Fry. Also on the list are the Stoops brothers, Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema, Dan McCarney, Kirk Ferentz, and Bo Pelini.


Hayden Fry retired after the 1998 season which was also his worst. Kirk Ferentz, Fry’s former Offensive Line coach, was hired to take over the Hawkeye program.

Much like Fry, Ferentz struggled at first but quickly got the ship righted. In 16 seasons, the Hawkeyes under Ferentz have played in 12 Bowl games under the foundation laid by Hayden Fry.

Hayden Fry put the Iowa Hawkeyes on the college football map.

But, I’d still like to know why he made his Tight Ends stand straight up on the line of scrimmage.

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