Fry was Bielema's coach at Iowa, then started him on a coaching career with the same thoughts he learned from Frank Broyles at Arkansas in 1961 when he served with Matthews. Hire only those that have a fire to be a head coach. Fry, like Bielema at Wisconsin, made three Rose Bowl trips in a Hall of Fame career at Iowa.
"Wilson was one of the toughest coaches I ever worked with, but also one of those who players loved the most," Fry said. "Bret is very, very similar to Wilson in that way. Bret is very, very tough, but sensitive to players and they love him.
Bielema went from walk-on, to team captain to All-Big Ten as a raging defensive lineman for Fry at Iowa in 1989-92. Fry elevated him to graduate assistant and then linebackers coach, then applauded him as he went to Kansas State under Fry protégé Bill Snyder and then to Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez, another Fry product.
"Bret has done unbelievably well," Fry said. "I'm so proud of all he's accomplished and the way he's done it.
"I can remember the day at practice he walked up and asked if he could be on our team. I looked at him — he weighed 180 — and he said he was a defensive tackle. I said, ‘You are awful small, not big enough for the Big Ten.' He gave me a stern look and said, ‘Give me a uniform and I can play.' I told him I didn't know if we had any that small. It wasn't long before he had a scholarship and was chasing backs into the two-bit seats."
Fry explained Wednesday morning via telephone from his Las Vegas home it all started as he quarterbacked Baylor under Broyles in 1950. So much of his philosophy was learned from Broyles. Fry said it's hard to imagine that Bielema doesn't have a lot of Broyles in his core.
"I think he does," Fry said. "I think what I would tell my players and my staff, so much came from Frank. He was as smart as anyone I ever knew. I know I shared all of those things with them. I told them, just like Frank, hire coaches that want to be a head coach, because if they do they will have ethics and care for players, not just worry about Xs and Os. Bret's got that.
"No matter where I coached, the first thing I did within the first three days — and that was at Iowa, SMU or North Texas — was write on the board one through 10 the things that made you win, then one through 10 those that made you lose. If you were into those things that made you lose, you wouldn't be on my team. Those in that group got out pretty quick, by motorcycle, car or bus.
"I know Bret knows those things. It's exact things in your private life or as students. If you don't do it exactly right, you are going to have problems."
Fry said Bielema knows the winning formula.
"He's smart, just like Frank," he said. "So intelligent. He coaches sound football. He loves big, physical linemen and big, physical backs. His teams were always among the least penalized in the Big Ten. He'll establish a good running game, but he'll do new things -- and I always went for new things -- out of it to give him a chance to be different and have success. He'll run a real strong defense."
Fry said that's the same thing that Broyles did, along with the attention to detail.
"Frank could remember everything from every game," Fry said. "Bret is the same way. He just is ready for everything the opponent is going to do.
"I can remember Frank telling me about a Texas game years later, a third-and-2 when Texas ran to the boundary and Frank slanted the defense to the boundary. It was a right hash play and I just didn't understand why he did that.
"Frank tells me, 'It's because Darrell likes to go to the short side of the field on short yardage.' Arkansas stopped it. Frank's memory was so good and Bret's just like that. I learned so much from Frank in 1950 that I always kept with me and again in 1961 on his staff.
"Frank was tough on me in 1961. He said my job was to find ways to get the ball to a guy named Lance Alworth and really that's all I had to do. So I did that and tried to learn from Frank.
"I think you've got a real winner with Bret at Arkansas. He's sensitive to the players. They love him. I don't know how to explain it, but he's open to try new things for players. He will do things that help them win and not your normal Xs and Os.
Fry looks forward to watching the Razorbacks, but admits that it sometimes tough to know who to cheer.
"I had two former coaches playing Saturday, Bo Pelini and Bret, in the Big Ten title game," he said. "Someone is going to lose and that's tough. I'll have four coaching for Notre Dame in the national title game.
"I've always admired Arkansas. I learned so much there and loved it. I loved Wilson Matthews. We both served in the Marines, so we fit together immediately."
That's the way Hayden Fry thinks it will be with Bret Bielema and the state of Arkansas. Winning does that.