Hayden Fry died yesterday

At age 90. One of the dozens of college coaches from the Frank Broyles tree. JFB recruited him to Baylor, gave him a job at UA for one year in 1961 and launched his HC career which took him to SMU, North Texas and finally Iowa for 20 seasons.

Fry also recruited the first black scholarship player in the SWC, Jerry LeVias.

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Well respected everywhere.
RIP Coach Fry…

RIP Coach.

I’m sure some probably know this, but Hayden Fry was the inspiration for Craig T. Nelson’s character, Hayden Fox, in the sitcom “Coach.” The campus shots in the show were actually exteriors of buildings at the University of Iowa. The show’s creator was an Iowa graduate.

I’ve long been fascinated by what Fry and Kirk Ferentz since have been able to accomplish at Iowa because it has recruiting disadvantages that remind me a lot of Arkansas in some ways. For a major program to only have two head coaches in 40-plus years in incredible. And the list of Fry’s assistant coaches who went on to become head coaches is pretty impressive, too.

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A lot of Iowa fans have been trying to get rid of Ferentz for years but the administration has resisted. I guess either the Iowa regents like him or they stay out of meddling in the AD’s business.

RIP Coach Fry

I was able to interview Hayden Fry twice, once before Bielema was hired. He annually made a summer trip to Mountain Home to fish for trout with guides on the White River. He also brought his staff with him at times. Just a few years before Bielema was hired, the Mountain Home folks he knew and loved invited him for a fish fry at a home just off the White River. Frank Broyles flew in and they were the honored guests at the dinner. I was invited. I got a picture of the two of them together. I also visited with Fry that night.

A few years later on the day Bielema was to be introduced, I was fortunate to get Hayden’s phone number in Henderson, Nevada. He felt strong enough (in his battle with cancer) to visit with me for about 45 minutes. He talked about Frank a lot in that interview, the 1961 team he called plays for at Arkansas.

Harold Horton was on that Arkansas team and was a halfback (playing both ways) subbing for Lance Alworth. He does recall Hayden’s penchant for wide plays and reverses on the goal line that never left him. He did odd things on tight yardage situations against the book. They didn’t always work, but apparently they did enough, right? He won a lot of games.

The thing I remember about that interview was Hayden taking the SMU job on the field at a bowl game while coaching for the Hogs. He said salary was not discussed. He didn’t even ask what SMU would pay. He just assumed it was better than an assistant coach gig at Arkansas. It was not. It took him three years before he eclipsed his Arkansas pay. He said he learned a big lesson, to negotiate salary while the man doing the interview still was at a guess if you were going to say yes or not. That seems like a basic skill, but Hayden said he was so happy to be a head coach that he didn’t even ask.

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Thanks for sharing Clay! Wonderful experience for you and story for us to read. I grew up in Mountain Home. Betting the resort on the White River was Gaston’s.

Boyle’s was a master at finding assistants and getting them good salaries and jobs later.

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No, not Gastons for the dinner. It was at Dick House’s home near 178. I believe he fished out of Rim Shoals.

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Thanks Clay, only said that because I know Gastons has a small air strip.

Great regional airport at midway. Close to Dick House’s place.