The first inductions into the HawkeyeNation.com Hall of Fame include a pair of teams that Iowa fans will always remember:
- 1985 Hawkeye football team that was rated # 1 in the nation.
- 1970 Iowa basketball team that was undefeated in the Big Ten.
These were certainly two of the most exciting and entertaining teams in Hawkeye history. The voting was very close among the members of our "panel of experts" and the top two teams actually earned the same number of points. In fact, five different Iowa teams received first-place votes. (See the details below.) The nominations for the Hawkeye Nation.com Hall of Fame were submitted by Hawkeye Nation.com readers.
Here are my thoughts and some of the comments made by voters regarding the inductees:
1) 1985 Hawkeye football team that was rated # 1 in the nation. This team was packed with talented, hard-working players who played well in pressure situations. Guys like Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon, Larry Station, Billy Happel, Scott Helverson, Hap Peterson, Mike Flagg, Robert Smith and Rob Houghtlin.
Hayden Fry coached an aggressive style of play and Bill Snyder masterminded a wide-open offensive attack. This team was just so much fun to watch. The 35-31 victory over Michigan State and the 12-10 victory over Michigan were two of the greatest college football games I've ever seen.
Comments from other voters:
"It doesn't get any better than a #1 rated Iowa team beating a #2 Michigan team in what was, at the time, called one of the ‘games of the century.' And at the time, there had not been many #1 vs. #2 games in college football history. To have it end on a game-winning field goal…unreal. Still one of the best moments in Iowa football history, period."
"Being ranked #1 in the country for five weeks speaks for itself. Chuck Long was your closest second-place finisher in Heisman history. The coaching staff featured Hayden Fry, Barry Alvarez, Dan McCarney, Bill Snyder and Kirk Ferentz. Wow! The highlight was the win over #2 Michigan, one of the most ballyhooed games in the Big Ten's legendary history and the last conference meeting between the top two teams in the country. Too bad Ronnie Harmon screwed the whole thing up in Pasadena."
"QB Chuck Long was the traffic cop of a team with an incredible amount of talent. That team could have won a National Championship."
"The team won an outright Big Ten title, was ranked #1 in the nation for five weeks, was victorious in arguably the most memorable game in Kinnick Stadium history (#1 Iowa 12, #2 Michigan 10), came within an eyelash of having the Heisman Trophy winner in Chuck Long and had three players selected in the first round of the NFL Draft (Long, Ronnie Harmon and Mike Haight). The squad should be considered the pinnacle of Hayden Fry's miraculous rebuilding job in Iowa City. And if it was Hayden's best team, it should be Hall of Fame worthy."
"That wasn't just football, that was sociology! How can we forget ‘ANF' and Houghtlin's kick against Michigan and Chuck Long and so much more—the only bright spot for thousands of Iowans caught in the downspiral of the Farm Crisis."
2) 1970 Iowa basketball team that was undefeated in the Big Ten. Coach Ralph Miller's 1970 Hawkeye team might have been the most entertaining team in Big Ten history. This group averaged 102.9 points per game en route to a 14-0 record in the league. Overall, Iowa finished with a 20-5 mark, averaging a school-record 98.7 points.
Keep in mind that Miller's team hit those eye-popping numbers without the benefit of the three-point arc or the shot clock. Amazing.
The Hawkeyes' season ended prematurely in a 104-103 NCAA Tourney loss to Jacksonville, which was led by Artis Gilmore's 30 points and 17 rebounds.
Miller's rotation included these six players:
- Fred Brown (Jr. Guard) … 17.9 points
- Chad Calabria (Sr. Guard) … 19.1 points
- John Johnson (Sr. Forward) … 27.9 points
- Glenn Vidnovic (Sr. Forward) … 17.3 points
- Dick Jensen (Sr. Center) … 3.1 points
- Ben McGilmer (Sr. Forward) … 10.3 points
Four of these Hawkeyes (another school record) were selected in the 1970 NBA Draft: Calabria, Johnson, Vidnovic and McGilmer.
Johnson scored a school-record 699 points that season, including a school-record 49 against Northwestern. Both Johnson and Brown scored over 1,000 points in their Iowa careers, despite playing only two seasons.
The Hawkeyes' victories that season included the following scores: 107-99 over Michigan, 119-100 over Wisconsin, 108-107 over Purdue, 115-101 over Northwestern and 121-106 over Notre Dame. Remember…no three-point line and no shot clock!
Comments from other voters:
"Undefeated in Big 10 play? Are you kidding me? Miller's six-pack was a non-alcoholic thing back then. The loss against Jacksonville in the NCAAs was sour, as Iowa would have had its shot at vaunted UCLA had the Hawks won."
"The famed ‘six-pack' to me was the most entertaining Hawkeye outfit ever. Cantankerous Ralph Miller was a defensive genius and yet, here was this group of Hawks averaging over 100 points a game in Big Ten play. Undefeated to boot. John Johnson, Fred Brown, Chad Calabria, Glen Vidnovic, Dick Jensen and Ben McGilmer. That's a six-pack worth opening time and time again."
"The offensive exploits and 14-0 mark in the conference will never be equaled or surpassed. Plus, the names like Johnny Johnson and Downtown Freddy Brown are the kinds of names and characters EVERY Hall of Fame must have. Teams like this are why we play basketball. What kid in his right mind plays basketball on the driveway and pretends to be some defensive star willing his team to a 51-46 victory by shutting down the other star. No, folks like Freddy Brown got—and still get—people interested in the second-greatest sport known to man."
"The very fact that this team won a regular-season Big Ten basketball title—a feat only one Iowa team (1978-79) has done in the 34 years since—is reason enough to bestow Hall of Fame honors upon it. That it also averaged more than 100 points per game in a pre-three-point shot/shot clock era makes it even more memorable and worthy. In fact, the Iowa ‘Six Pack' is still the highest scoring team in Big Ten history (102.9 per game). The team's 104-103 loss to the Artis Gilmore-led Jacksonville Dolphins in the NCAA Tournament was its first since falling 57-55 to St. John's in the Rainbow Classic the day after Christmas."
"People still talk about Downtown Freddy Brown and John Johnson. Obviously, this was a talented and special crew led by one of the all-time great college coaches—Ralph Miller."
Breakdown of the voting…
Each member of the panel voted for three teams (1st team gets 3 points, 2nd team gets 2 points, 3rd team gets 1 point). The panel includes some very knowledgeable sports personalities, including…
- Jon Miller … Publisher of Hawkeye Nation.com web site and "Hawkeye Nation" magazine.
- Gary Dolphin … Play-by-play radio personality for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
- Marc Hansen … Columnist for the Des Moines Register and one of Iowa's all-time best sports writers.
- Jamie DeMoney … Contributor for Hawkeye Nation.com web site and "Hawkeye Nation" magazine.
- Chuck Offenburger … Long-time columnist and co-host of RAGBRAI for the Des Moines Register, he now publishes Offenburger.com.
- Rob Howe … Editor and Senior Writer of Hawkeye Nation.com web site and "Hawkeye Nation" magazine.
- Steve Deace … Popular radio personality on KXNO 1460-AM.
- Marty Gallagher … Me.
The first-place votes went to the following teams: 1985 Iowa football team (4), 1970 Iowa basketball team (3), 1980 Iowa basketball team (3), 2002 Iowa football team (2), 1958 Iowa football team (1).
- 1985 Iowa football team (19)
- 1970 Iowa men's basketball team (19)
- 1980 Iowa men's basketball team (16)
- 2002 Iowa football team (14)
- 1958 Iowa football team (8)
- 2003 Iowa football team (1)
- 1987 Iowa men's basketball team (1)
Look for the Hawkeye Nation.com Hall of Fame inductees in other categories—Athletes, Coaches, Media, Games and At-Large Bids—in the coming weeks. Feel free to e-mail your comments and feedback to me at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.
(Marty Gallagher founded the popular web site IowaSportsOpinions.com and now publishes IowaPrepsToday.com. E-mail him at Marty@IowaSportsOpinions.com.)