IOWA CITY, Iowa – Legendary University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry has died. He was 90.
“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.”
Ferentz: Fry was a football icon
The University of Iowa's Hawkeye Twitter page quotes current head coach Kirk Ferentz who called Fry "a college football icon and an Iowa legend."
"His Hall of Fame career is well known, but personally, he will always be the man who took a chance on me at the start of my coaching career," said Ferentz.
Fry's greatest season at Iowa was 1985, when the Hawkeyes were No. 1 in the AP rankings for five weeks and had Heisman Trophy runner-up Chuck Long at quarterback.
Iowa finished 10-2 as Big Ten champions and ranked 10th in the country.
He coached three Rose Bowls with Iowa, though he never won one.
“Iowa football reached new heights under Hayden Fry, and has continued that success under Kirk Ferentz, one of the many outstanding coaches who served as a member of his staff,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement. "Hayden’s legacy not only lives on through Iowa football, but also through the coaches and players who had the privilege to be associated with his teams.
Leaves behind his wife, children
Fry is survived by his wife, four sons, a daughter, a stepson and a stepdaughter.
Ferentz and his wife sent condolences to Fry's family and friends.
"Mary and I send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Shirley, their children and the entire Fry family. We hope that Hayden’s legacy of integrity and high character will provide his family comfort during this difficult time.”
He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer before his final season at Iowa and he did his best to keep the news from his players and coaches while he received treatment.
“My doctor at the hospital said, 'Coach, you may be the luckiest guy in the world. You're almost 70 years old and you're in real good physical condition other than the cancer.' He said I could live another five years. That was 16 years ago, and I'm still here," Fry told the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Gazette in 2015, when he was living in Nevada.
Plans for a memorial service are pending
Legacy of coaches
At Iowa, Fry not only produced winning teams, but also a long line of successful head coaches who worked and played for him.
Bill Snyder (Kansas State), Barry Alvarez (Wisconsin), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Bret Bielema (Wisconsin and Arkansas) and Ferentz were among the 13 Fry assistants and players who became college head coaches.
Stoops on Twitter called Fry: “A man that we all loved and revered.”
Bret Bielema tweeted that Fry "gave me an opportunity to walk on and join the Hawkeye Family. He gave me a scholarship, my first coaching job, and the coaching DNA for life."