By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – A packed Kinnick Stadium was on hand to witness the honoring of Iowa’s 1981 football team that went 8-4 and earned a berth to the Rose Bowl to signal the beginning of the Hawkeyes’ resurgence under head coach Hayden Fry.
One of Iowa’s stars that season was defensive lineman Andre Tippett, who was present Saturday as he and several of his teammates were honored during the first quarter.
Tippett, who played for the New England Patriots from 1982-93, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in January 2021 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
Iowa began the 1981 season with a 10-7 victory over sixth-ranked Nebraska, which demolished the Hawkeyes 57-0 in 1980.
“It jumped off right away,” Tippett said. “Nebraska was our first game and I believe UCLA was next. To have those two games and us to win, I think that gave us the confidence that we could play with anybody in the country. We had been beaten, knocked around by Nebraska the first couple years.”
Tippett was a consensus All-American defensive lineman at Iowa, but switched to linebacker in the NFL, where he was a four-time All-Pro selection and had 100 career sacks, including 18.5 sacks during the 1984 season.
Tippett was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 after helping the Patriots get to the Super Bowl.
“Just listening to how (Fry) planned to make changes here and being part of that,” Tippett said. “Then, all of a sudden, our senior year everything kicks in and we take off. Everything that I am, everything that I’ve accomplished, I owe to the University of Iowa. My coaches, my teammates, Hayden Fry taking a chance on keeping me here and bringing me here. It’s been awesome.”