The 1983 Iowa Hawkeyes will be forever remembered in college football history, but not for anything they accomplished on the field. Iowa was a good team that year, to be sure. They opened the year by crushing Iowa State, beating Penn State in State College and Ohio State in Iowa City in succession, finishing 9-3 with a Gator Bowl appearance.
No, those Hawkeyes will be remembered for assembling perhaps the greatest coaching staff in the history of the game. Among future College Football Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry’s assistants included:
- College Football Hall of Fame coach Barry Alvarez
- College Football Hall of Fame coach and current Kansas State coach Bill Snyder
- Current Oklahoma coach and certain Hall of Famer Bob Stoops
- Current Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz
- Former Iowa State and North Texas head coach Dan McCarney
And, to it from those who were there, none of those five were even the best assistant on the staff. (That title belonged to defensive coordinator and career Fry lieutenant Bill Brashier.)
ESPN.com’s Brian Bennett did a wonderful job gathering recollections from members of that staff. We encourage you to read the article, but we’ve posted a few of the best here:
Ferentz: “If you look around at the guys who have been through here, most of us have had longevity where we’re at. You kind of learned that you can look over the fence and say, ‘Boy, that looks really good.’ But when you’ve got a good thing, learn to appreciate it. I think all of us would say that’s a lesson we learned here.”
Stoops: “I believe we learned from Coach Fry the value of putting down roots rather than just being quick to leave and taking any job. When you’re in a good situation like that, stay with it and make the most of it. I had opportunities when I went to Florida with Coach (Steve) Spurrier after my first year (as defensive coordinator). I didn’t pursue some of them because I liked too much what I was doing.”
Snyder: “We probably worked as well together as any staff that comes to mind. Good breeds good, and I think that’s what Hayden’s program did.”
Running backs coach Carl Jackson: “(Fry) let you work. He let you coach. He would coach you in the meetings and things, but once you got on the field, he let you do your job. You were responsible. Everybody had some ownership in what was going on. Some head coaches try to coach everything, and you can’t do it that way. Coach Fry would let you coach your position. But he expected results.”
Alvarez: “Everyone really respected one another. Everybody did their job. Everybody recruited hard. We all got along well. I was asked one time, ‘I bet that was a very interesting staff meeting.’ Let me tell you one thing: There was never any doubt who the boss was. Hayden ran a tight ship.”
McCarney: “I don’t remember one time in 11 years him ever chewing one of us out individually. He’s say things like, ‘A couple of you guys better get your butts in gear and do a better job of recruiting.’ And of course you are you thinking, “Well, who the hell are those couple of guys?” So he obviously kept everybody on edge.”
With coaching change season upon us, the wisdom of Fry’s staff remains as timeless as ever. Read the full story here.