By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz and Hayden Fry were similar in that they were the only coaches to have coached at the same school for 20 years back-to-back.
But as far as personality goes, that's where the similarities end.
Fry was eccentric, while Ferentz is more reserved.
Fry was dressed to the nines on gameday, while Ferentz prefers a more relaxed style.
Ferentz was emotional when speaking of Fry on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after Fry died on Tuesday evening after a long battle with cancer.
“There are so many things that he did that I would never have begun to think about, let alone actually do,” Ferentz said. “The first thing that comes to mind is the tiger hawk. That’s a national logo – international actually – logo. There was no tiger hawk prior to him coming.
“Things like that, he just had such a vision and such an ability to sell and convince people that this is worth doing or worth thinking about. I’ve said it many times, we’re so opposite in terms of personality. He’s funny, charismatic, I’m neither. But he is also a visionary and that’s not one of my strengths by any stretch.”
Fry took an ailing Iowa football program coming off of 17 consecutive losing seasons and rebuilt it into a force in the Big Ten during his 20-year tenure as Iowa’s head coach.
After brief stints at the University of Maine and with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens, Ferentz was named Fry’s successor in 1999, and the rest is history.
Ferentz now is in his 21st season as the head coach at Iowa and broke Fry’s all-time wins record in 2018.
Fry hired the previously unknown Ferentz as an assistant coach in 1981 and the rest is history.
That 1981 coaching staff also included Bill Snyder, Don Patterson, Barry Alvarez, Bill Brashier and Dan McCarney.
None of them were well-known at the time, but most of those names now would ring a bell to a lot of football fans.
“For some reason he took a chance on each and every one of us, he selected us,” Ferentz said. “But I’ll tell you, there was great unity in that room any time we were there together, and he was at the head of the table. There was no question about who was in charge and who was setting the bar and setting expectations.”