The first two coaches inducted into the Hawkeye Nation.com Hall of Fame are a pair of living legends:
Hawkeye fans everywhere associate both of these names with winning. And the voting in this category was very clear cut. Gable led the voting with 36 points (out of a possible 39) and Fry was next with 24. The next closest coach was Forest Evashevski with nine points. 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) Dan Gable. There's winning. There's dominating. And then there's Dan Gable. He led the Iowa program from 1977 through 1997, compiling a record of 355-21-5, for an astounding winning percentage of .932.
Plus, Gable's teams won nine consecutive national titles from 1978 through 1986. Nine straight NCAA titles!
The numbers—and championships—speak for themselves. Nine consecutive NCAA titles. Twenty-one straight Big 10 titles. A winning percentage of .932. He coached 152 All-Americans, 45 national champions, 106 Big 10 champions, 10 Olympians and four gold medalists.
The nine consecutive NCAA titles equaled the longest streak of national titles won by any school in any sport. (The others were Yale golf from 1905-1913 and USC track from 1935-1943.)
In 21 seasons, Gable's teams averaged…AVERAGED…a record of 17-1 in dual meets. In 21 seasons, Gable's teams won the national title 15 times. In the "off years," his Iowa teams finished second three times, third twice and (gasp!) sixth once.
Gable's Hawkeye teams had a combined record of 131-2-1 in the Big 10 Conference…a winning percentage of .978 over a span of 21 years. I doubt we'll ever see this kind of dominance in a single sport ever again.
Comments from other voters:
"Gable might be among the best coaches in any sport in the history of team sports, period."
"Dan Gable—His Hawkeye wrestling squad dominated the wrestling world with nine consecutive NCAA championships, an unheard of feat."
"Fifteen national championships. Precisely 15 national titles more than any other coach on the ballot won during his/her stint as a Hawkeye head coach. Dan Gable is to wrestling what NO other athlete has ever been to his/her sport. Because they did not follow up their playing success with coaching success—not Babe Ruth to baseball, not Michael Jordan to basketball. Nobody. Gable is truly an amazing credit and source of pride for the entire state of Iowa."
"Could be the best damn college coach period."
"Redefined a sport all by himself. He still carries a lot of clout to this day, both instate and beyond our borders. The John Wooden, who was also an All-American player plus an all-time great coach, of amateur wrestling."
"If this guy isn't number one on every ballot, there needs to be an investigation. Gable should have his own wing in the Hall of Fame."
"A legend in his own time and is doing a wonderful job living within the legend and letting the world continue to spin. His name and John Wooden's name should be forever linked in the history of national championships."
2) Hayden Fry. The University of Iowa's all-time winningest football coach guided the Hawkeyes to three Rose Bowls during his 20 years in Iowa City (1979-1998). Fry finished with a 143-89-6 record at Iowa (a winning percentage of .601), which is even more impressive when you consider that Iowa's record during the 20 years PRIOR to his arrival was a dismal 67-129-2 (a winning percentage of .338).
Fry's record in the Big 10 was outstanding, as well. His teams were 96-61-5 (.593) in the league, which had been dominated by Michigan and Ohio State before Fry entered the picture. In the 20 seasons before Fry arrived in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes' mark in the conference was 43-97-4 (.299).
Some Hawkeye fans were skeptical when Fry took the Iowa job, thinking that the Texas native would use it as a springboard to bigger and better things. Twenty seasons—and 14 bowl appearances later—Fry retired as one of the legendary figures in Iowa football history.
Comments from other voters:
"Someone remind me of how many losing seasons came before him? His legacy in the coaching ranks is becoming, or may already be, legend. A leader."
"Although it's a little less prestigious than his recent induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, there shouldn't be a Hawkeye Nation.com Hall of Fame without Hayden. Fry's legacy in our state goes far beyond football victories, which he collected in abundance. He was a guiding light during the farm crisis and cared deeply for Iowa. Words like "icon" and "legend" are not too big for this man."
"Edges Evashevski with longevity."
"Fry gets the nod over Forest Evashevski – but not necessarily for the successes his teams had on the field, but for the way he became such a beloved figure in the state of Iowa during his 20 years as head Hawk. Nationally, few coaches were ever as successful in turning a moribund program as Fry. Three Big Ten titles and a wildly successful coaching tree that includes Bobby Stoops, Bill Snyder and Barry Alvarez will be his lasting legacy on the game of college football."
"Brought the Iowa football program back from near-dead in the early 1980s."
"Hayden is the Godfather of Iowa football as we know it, and while Kirk Ferentz is doing things that Hayden never did, there will always be a debt of gratitude owed to Hayden Fry."
"The architect who successfully restored a deplorable football program into a Big Ten power and perennial challenger. Erased the myth of the conference being a two-horse race between Michigan and Ohio State every year. Offered hope to programs like Wisconsin, Illinois and especially Northwestern. Hayden also successfully launched the careers of many assistants who have thrived in their head-coaching opportunities…Bill Snyder, Kirk Ferentz, Barry Alvarez, Bob Stoops and now Mike Stoops. Even Dan McCarney, Don Patterson and Del Miller have done OK for themselves. Plus, look at the number of his players who have become good assistant coaches elsewhere, starting with the Stoops family."
Breakdown of the voting…
Each member of the panel voted for three coaches (1st coach gets 3 points, 2nd coach gets 2 points, 3rd coach 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.
- Marc Hansen … Columnist for the Des Moines Register and one of Iowa's all-time best sports writers.
- George Wine … Former Hawkeye sports information director.
- Bob Helmers … Producer/Director for ESPN and ESPN+Plus.
- Larry Cotlar … Weekday morning host on KXNO 1460-AM.
- Jamie DeMoney … Writer for Hawkeye Nation.com web site and Hawkeye Nationmagazine.
- 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
The first-place votes went to the following coaches: Dan Gable (11), Hayden Fry (2).
- Dan Gable (36)
- Hayden Fry (24)
- Forest Evashevski (9)
- C. Vivian Stringer (3)
- Lute Olson (2)
- Dr. Eddie Anderson (2)
- Ralph Miller (1)
- Kirk Ferentz (1)
Look for the Hawkeye Nation.com Hall of Fame inductees in other categories—Athletes, 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.)