August – October 1989

“The state university football team hereby challenges any college or other team in the State of Iowa to a game of football.” This notice appeared in the university newspaper, the Vidette-Reporter, on October 6, 1889, thus announcing the genesis of university-sanctioned intercollegiate football at the University of Iowa. Within a few days a response to the challenge came from Grinnell College. A game was agreed upon, to be played November 16 at Grinnell. An overconfident Iowa team was humbled by Grinnell, 24-0. Thus began – and ended – the first season of University of Iowa football.

Since then the fortunes of intercollegiate football at the University of Iowa have soared to the heights and plunged to the depths. This exhibition, featuring items from the University Libraries Archives and other collections, attempts to tell something of the rich history and tradition of the sport at Iowa.

Discover here the remarkable undefeated streaks of the 1898-1901 and the 1920-1923 teams. Find out why Iowa was suspended from the Big Ten in 1929-1930. Recall the triumphs of the “Ironmen” of 1939 and the Rose Bowl teams of 1956 and 1958. Remember – and perhaps wince at – the 1973 season, the only time since the first season in 1889 when Iowa lost all its games. And relive the triumphs of the past ten years, including two Big Ten championships and eight consecutive bowl games.

In this exhibition you can learn of or recall famous games: the “blizzard game” with Wisconsin in 1925, the 7-6 victory over Notre Dame in 1939, the astounding 8-0 upset of Ohio State in 1952, the frustrating “fainting Irish” tie with Notre Dame in 1953, and many others.

Some individuals in Iowa football have become almost legendary figures. Most honored and remembered perhaps is Nile Kinnick, Iowa’s only Heisman Trophy winner. But not far behind are others. Duke Slater, Gordon Locke, and Aubrey Devine were the stalwart trio at the heart of the 1920 and 1921 teams, perhaps the most dominating teams ever to play for Iowa. During the 1950s, players such as Calvin Jones, Alex Karras, Kenny Ploen, and Randy Duncan made football history at Iowa. And the 1980s have also produced names to conjur with: Chuck Long, Reggie Roby, Ronnie Harmon, Andre Tippett, and Rob Houghtlin, to name only a few of many.

Since 1900 Iowa has had nineteen coaches. Of that number five stand out above the rest, because of their success and because of their impact on Iowa football. This exhibition offers a special salute to these coaches.

Alden Knipe 1898-1902 28-11-4
Howard Jones 1916-1923 42-17-1
Edward Anderson 1939-1942, 1946-1949 35-33-2
Forest Evashevski 1952-1960 52-27-4
Hayden Fry 1979- 77-39-4

Special displays of Iowa’s All-Americans, Iowa players and coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame, and the origin and development of Herky, the Iowa mascot, are in the free-standing cases.

This exhibition was prepared by Mark Anderson and David Hudson.