Hayden Fry has died following a long battle with cancer. The sports world will never be the same. His family made the announcement through the University of Iowa with the following statement: “We are proud to know that our father’s life had a positive influence on so many people, the players, the coaches, and the fans who played for, worked with, and supported his long and successful coaching career,” the family said in a statement. “His legend will live forever with the people he touched and inspired, and the programs he led to greater heights.”
Fry originally came from humble beginnings in Eastland Texas. He played quarterback at Baylor University and started coaching in the famed Permian Basin at Odessa High School in the 1950s. That area of the country is big on their football, see Friday Night Lights.
Hayden Fry then made his jump to coaching college ball, first with SMU then a six-year run at the University of North Texas where he had an impressive 40-23-3 record. Then it came time for the big show. When Iowa came calling in 1979 they had had a terrible 17 years without a winning season but that’s what Hayden Fry did. He started by winning the hearts and minds of the players, who then went on to win games, lots of them.
During his 20 years with Iowa Hayden Fry changed everything about the football program from the uniforms and logos to the mindest of his players and coaches. The program went from dismal to winning 238 games and three Big Ten championships. The football program in Iowa remains one of the best in the nation still today because of his legacy.
Despite having never been to Iowa before coaching there his love for the football program and the people made him a legend, and a local at heart. Despite moving back to Texas to be around family while battling cancer he was still known to say “I’ll Always Be a Hawkeye.’”