Skip to main content

Iowa is getting one of college football's greatest coaching staffs back together

When it's all said and done, we may look back at one of Nick Saban's Alabama staffs, Urban Meyer's staffs at Florida or Ohio State, or perhaps one of Mike Leach's Texas Tech staffs as the greatest collections of coaching talent in college football history.

But even the best of those groups has a long way to go to catch Hayden Fry's 1983 staff.

That season, Fry's fifth as Iowa's head coach, included the following:

- Offensive coordinator Bill Snyder
- Linebackers coach Barry Alvarez
- Offensive line coach Kirk Ferentz
- Defensive line coach Dan McCarney
- Graduate assistant Bob Stoops

That group boasted five eventual Power 5 head coaches, two College Football Hall of Fame coaches, and two future inductees in Stoops and Ferentz.

Fry, who turned 89 in February, was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2003 after racking up 232 career wins at SMU, North Texas and Iowa.

He went 143-89-6 as the head Hawkeye from 1979-98 -- he was succeeded by Ferentz, who, obviously, coaches the Hawkeyes today -- and serves as the namesake for FRYfest, an annual gathering to celebrate the arrival of Hawkeye football.

The 10th FRYfest takes place on Aug. 31, and this year's theme will honor the 1983 staff by getting the gang back together to celebrate its 35th anniversary. (For what it's worth, Iowa went 9-3 in '83, finishing third in the Big Ten with a No. 14 ranking in both polls, the program's highest year-end rank since 1960.)

For sure, you could tell they were all pretty special on that staff. And I always felt incredibly lucky and blessed that I was able to hang around them all," Stoops told ESPN in 2015 of being a 23-year-old GA on that staff. "I think you have to give [Fry] the credit, that he saw in people the leadership and quality of coaches that they were. Because you don't luck out and get that many people all together at one time."

Aside from marking the 35th anniversary, this year's FRYfest theme has the absolute perfect timing for another reason: Ferentz tied Fry's school record of 143 wins with a defeat of Boston College in last season's Pinstripe Bowl, meaning Fry's successor will attempt to break his record the day after FRYfest, as Iowa opens its season against Northern Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 1.