A Cadillac Escalade whisked past Carver-Hawkeye Arena and the Dental Building before turning West at the south side of Kinnick Stadium. Former Johnson County Sheriff, now prominent Iowa City businessman Gary Hughes was at the wheel of the big ride. As the SUV was ushered into the Kinnick lot, the passenger's sunglasses came into view. After parking in the spot being held by Jim West and I, the passenger door opened. Hayden Fry was now standing next to the stadium that he had filled those many years.
Hayden looked great! Clad in his black Hawk blazer and white shirt, he stood as tall as ever in those big Texas boots. His charm was present with his warm greetings for his old friends. He laughed as he shook my hand and commented on the change in my hair color. He even noticed that Josh had grown up from the last time he had seen him at the Hula Bowl in Hawaii. His many fans gathered around for pictures and autographs. Hayden was in his element. The Iowa icon loves the Hawks and the many Hawk fans.
As we walked to the pressbox, the cheers for Hayden echoed throughout the parking lot. What a great tribute to our former leader!
Hayden offered great insight during the game. He noted that the Miami pass defense was horrible against Michigan, adding that Blue couldn't or wouldn't take advantage of the porous secondary. "Kirk will throw deep here soon" said Ferentz's former mentor. Then McCann hit Hill on the 53 yard TD bomb. After a three and out by Miami he added "The Miami punt coverage was awful on their first punt. Kahlil may run this back all the way." Hill did take the punt the distance, although it was called back for a penalty. He added how happy he was that Kirk was experiencing success this year.
Hayden is looking forward to coaching in the Hula Bowl again next year. This year, he said, "The Pro Bowl will be held there the next day. Therefore, the NCAA is allowing the players to stay an extra day in order to watch the game. I have already extended an invitation to Ladell and Kahlil."
When I asked Hayden where Shirley was that afternoon he said, "I hope she is home mowing the lawn" as he winked. Hayden's humor was evident throughout the day as he shook hands with well wishers ranging from Steve Alford and Ed Podolak to the press box elevator operator. Hayden hasn't forgotten any of the people that have helped him along the way. He's a good man. But why wouldn't he be? After all, Hayden's a Hawk!