On a fall day in 1980, Dave Browne realized the phrase he had heard a thousand times before was true--good things are worth waiting for.
A half-decade earlier Browne's mother, disappointed with the public school system in Shaker Heights, Ohio, decided a change of atmosphere would be beneficial to her two sons. She thought Marmion Academy in Aurora, Illinois would be a better fit.
As a senior at Marmion, Browne knew he wanted to play major college football, but there was one thing missing—a place to play.
He decided to attend Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge in hopes of being noticed by major college coaches.
During his freshman year at Iowa Central, Browne's teammate John Morton had been invited to Iowa City for a recruiting visit and he invited Browne to join him on the trip.
Morton eventually signed with Kent State, but the atmosphere in Iowa City caught Browne's attention.
"I had never been to a major college game before and I was just mesmerized by the crowd, said Browne. "I left there dreaming of playing in front of that many people."
The dream of playing in front of large crowds became motivation for Browne's upcoming season at Iowa Central. At the end of the 1980 season, he had scholarship offers from West Virginia, Texas-El Paso, and Michigan State, but deep down he knew there was one place he wanted to play.
"I knew the Iowa program was on the way up and I wanted to be a part of it," said Browne.
Finally in the fall of 1980 Browne, a defensive tackle who was listed at 6-1, 260 pounds in the 1981 media guide, got his wish.
"(Iowa Assistant) Clovis Hale told me they were offering me a scholarship," said Browne. "It was really a dream come true."
According to Browne, the lifestyle in Iowa City was very different from what he grew up with in Shaker Heights.
"When I got to Iowa City, I would walk down the street people would say ‘Hi'," he said. "It took me six months to realize that people weren't trying to stick me with a knife."
"In the city people just don't talk to you on the street."
Browne quickly grew to love Iowa City and became a starter for the Hawkeyes. He also became a target for Coach Hayden Fry's good-natured ribbing.
"We were stretching before practice one day and Hayden says ‘Browne, I thought I was ugly until I met you'," he said.
Browne laughed about the incident and told his mother about it the next time he called home.
"Later on that season my mom came to visit and marched right up to Hayden and said ‘Are you the coach who called my son ugly?'," said Browne. "When Coach Fry admitted it was him, my Mom said ‘Well at least you're honest."
He also recalled the day in 1981 Fry took his football team to The Carousel Restaurant in Coralville to celebrate a victory over UCLA.
"I thought it would be funny to go through the buffet line and scoop out some spaghetti with my hand," he said. "A lady who I'd never seen comes up and says ‘That's really disgusting'," said Browne. "So I said ‘Who the (heck) are you?"
The woman jokingly responded "I'm Mary Ferentz, who the (heck) are you?"
Browne attends two road games per year, and says his introduction to Kirk Ferentz's wife is something he and his former coach laugh about to this day.
"We went to East Lansing for the Michigan State game this season and we ended up staying in the same hotel as the Iowa team," he said. "I saw Coach Ferentz the morning of the game and we had a pretty good laugh about it."
Browne said it that same easy going attitude that makes Ferentz a successful coach.
"Guys play hard for him not because he yells, but because they respect him and they don't want to let him down," he said.
Browne said he takes every opportunity possible to tell people about the University of Iowa. He often attends college fairs in Northern Ohio, where he assists the University of Iowa Alumni Association by sitting at the Iowa display, encouraging students to consider Iowa.
"When I told people I was going to Iowa, they kind of made fun of me because they didn't think there was anything there," he said. "When those same people came to visit Iowa City, they were amazed at how nice it is."
These days Browne and his wife Elaine live in Twinsburg, Ohio where he is an administrator at an alternative school. He enjoys providing students with opportunities much like the one he received over 20 years ago. The couple has a 12 year-old son named David who, according to Browne, would love to be a Hawkeye someday.
"A few years ago we went back to Iowa for the 20 year Rose Bowl reunion," said Browne. "When I introduced David to Coach Fry it was the highlight of his trip."
"He couldn't stop talking about it for weeks."