Hayden Fry has a legacy to be proud of: 232 career victories, five conference championships across three leagues, two national coach of the year honors and five conference coach of the year awards, 17 bowl trips and a coaching tree unmatched in his profession. He joined the College Football Hall of Fame in 2003.
But one piece of Fry's resume is probably his greatest accomplishment and something that may never be matched again. He holds the FBS record with 180 career losses.
CFB Matrix's Dave Bartoo (who originally put this thought in my head) raises an interesting question:
Holding the record for most losses is a badge of honor and a sign of a successful career in the same way that Reggie Jackson struck out more times than anyone in Major League Baseball history and Kobe Bryant has missed more shots than anyone in NBA history. You've got to succeed a heck of a lot to be allowed to fail that often.
At five losses per season it would take a coach 36 years to catch Fry. A four-loss average would require a 45-year career. The coaching market is too volatile and fan bases are too restless to allow that, though. Fry went 11-29-1 in his first four seasons at SMU. You think he's seeing Year 5 if he happened to coach in 2015 instead of 1966? (By the way, Fry went 8-3 in '66 and finished the year ranked in the top 10 of both polls.)
It would take a special coach and a special situation, perhaps where a coach grabs a job at a young age and stays for life, raising its profile like Frank Beamer has done at Virginia Tech while riding the ups of a 10-2 season with the downs of a 5-7 campaign.
Like Cy Young's record of 316 career losses, Fry's 180 career setbacks may be the product of a bygone era. And I'm not sure that's a good thing.