After a lengthy battle with cancer, former Iowa football coach and College Football Hall of Fame member, Hayden Fry passed away Tuesday the University of Iowa announced.

Coach Fry was recently named to's Top 150 Greatest Coaches in College Football History:

In 17 seasons prior to his arrival at Iowa, Fry won one conference title at SMU and one at North Texas State. Iowa hadn't had a winning season since 1961. Fry took the Hawkeyes to the Big Ten championship in his third season (1981) and two more in the next nine years. A more lasting effect of his tenure was that 13 of Fry's assistants and players became FBS head coaches. Two, Bill Snyder and Barry Alvarez, joined Fry in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Coach Fry had stints at North Texas and SMU before he came to Iowa in 1978.

Fry's 20-season record at Iowa was 143-89-6. Under Fry the Hawkeyes won Big Ten championships in 1981, 1985, and 1990. He is a three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year and has twice been named National Coach of the Year.

After 37 seasons his career record stands at 232-178-10 and includes trips to 17 bowl games. Fry was also a past president of the American Football Coaches Association. He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

Coach Fry was a state championship quarterback for Odessa High School in 1946.  He was also known for the Ford Mustang being named after his SMU Mustangs and for breaking the color barrier in the SWC when he awarded Jerry LeVias a scholarship to SMU in 1966.


The University of Iowa released some statements on Coach Fry's passing...

Fry Family on the passing of Hayden Fry:

With our family at his side, Hayden Fry, beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away following a lengthy battle with cancer.  We are comforted in our faith and knowing that Hayden is no longer suffering and resides now in heaven with our Lord.  Hayden passed on Dec. 17, at the age of 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. His legend will live forever with the people he touched and inspired, and the programs he led to greater heights.

Though Hayden was born in Texas and moved there more recently to be closer to our family, his love for the University of Iowa, his players and coaches, the people of Iowa, and the state of Iowa, is well known.  Hayden often shared, “I’ll Always Be a Hawkeye”.

Our family would like to pass along our heartfelt thanks to the caregivers who made Hayden’s comfort their priority.

We cannot thank everyone enough for their love and support. Your thoughts and prayers are truly appreciated.

Memorial Services are pending and will be announced at a later date.

Gary Barta Statement on Hayden Fry:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Shirley and the entire Fry family as we mourn the loss of Hayden Fry; a great leader, an outstanding coach, and a man as genuine and loyal as they come.

Iowa Athletics has lost an icon, a man that raised the bar for every Hawkeye program, and every member of our athletics department. Hayden was respected by everyone who knew him. His passing creates a void for all those who played for, coached with, and supported his successful tenure as our head football coach.

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. 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.

Hayden represented all that is good in college athletics, and did it “his way”. Iowa athletics, and college football, has lost a pioneer. He was a dedicated family man and he will be missed.”

Kirk Ferentz

Statement of condolences on the passing of Hayden Fry

“Hayden Fry is 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. I was proud to coach with him and honored to succeed him when he retired. He’s been a great mentor and a true friend. I am forever grateful to him.

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.”

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Additional thoughts from Kirk Ferentz on Hayden Fry:

“There are two men who played large roles in my coaching career: One is my mentor, Joe Moore. The other is Hayden Fry.

Back in 1981, I sent three job applications out: one went to Appalachian State – I never heard back from them; I sent one to Hawaii, had a phone interview, but they needed someone who knew the west coast; the third went to Hayden Fry at Iowa. Coach Fry hired me based on Coach Moore’s recommendation (and in spite of my lack of experience and local knowledge) and showed me how to build and maintain a winning program.

His vision included hiring coaches who would be forward thinking and challenge each other. If you look across college football, you will see a part of his legacy in the coaches who he hired and mentored – coaches like Barry Alvarez, Bill Snyder, Dan McCarney, Bob, Mike and Mark Stoops and many more.

Even before the Hawkeyes started winning on the field, Coach Fry was beloved by the fans and trusted by his players. He had a charisma and leadership style that created a championship and winning program that continues today. In 20 seasons at Iowa, Coach Fry showed us all that you can succeed at the highest level by playing by the rules.”


Dan McCarney

Iowa football letterman (1972-74) and former assistant coach:

“He loves energy. He loves passion. He loves guys that can communicate. He had gotten some good recommendations, I don’t know who they were from, from at least a couple people in Iowa City. One of the many things I learned from Hayden Fry: If a young man doesn’t have all the things experience wise that you’re looking for, but he has those other intangibles -- work ethic, loyalty, coachable, can communicate, can build relationships, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of passion and energy for life, could be a good recruiter and a guy that might be a person on the rise -- then maybe I’ll embrace him, give him a chance and opportunity, and that’s what Hayden Fry did with me.”

 Chuck Long

Iowa quarterback, 1981-85:

“I have to give him all the credit for getting my personal career launched among others. I speak for many of the Hawkeye football past players. He had a special way of making you feel good all the time even in the tough games and in the tough moments. For me it was after an interception. He had a way of getting you back up and confident. That feeling… not every coach has that ability and I’ve been around a bunch of them. Not every coach has that ability to make you feel confident and be positive even in the negative situations.”

 Merton Hanks

Iowa defensive back, 1987-90:

“Hayden was always on the cutting edge and looking for the best people, regardless of race, creed, or color. What he did at Iowa, really rebuilding that program to what it was to, quite frankly, national power. To get it to the point where you were able to attract young men from states away, like myself, who may not have known about the University of Iowa and everything Iowa has to offer, speaks very well of not only him, but the University itself and being a partner with him to make the University of Iowa brand that much bigger and better.”



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