Smith's new pass routes will be run by a receiver corps that has been augmented by the presence of Cormac Carney, who caught 57 passes for 870 yards and eight touchdowns as a freshman at Air Force in 1978, and then sat out last season after transferring to UCLA. As for getting the ball to those receivers, Jay Schroeder looks like the man. He, too, sees this as "our year, our team."
As the 1979 season drew to a close, Iowa fans were displaying signs that read NEXT YEAR—PASADENA. That's what you call optimism. Never mind such piddling roadblocks as Ohio State, Michigan and Purdue, consider instead the Hawkeyes themselves. They haven't had a winning season in 19 years.
The source of Iowa optimism is Coach Hayden Fry, a born promoter who has brought wide-open offense to this perennial Big Ten also-ran. Last season, Fry's first at Iowa after six years at North Texas State, where his record was 40-23-3, the Hawkeyes finished 5-6 and came within a triple reverse of a winning season, having led both Nebraska and Oklahoma in the fourth quarter. After the Nebraska loss, 60,000 Iowa fans stood and cheered their team for 10 minutes. "I was furious," Fry insists. "I would much rather have had boos. I told the players to wipe the smiles off their faces. I told them they could smile when they played a good game and won...and only then. There is no such thing as a moral victory."
Win or lose, Fry's football is entertaining. His 1968 SMU team, with Chuck Hixson at quarterback, still holds an NCAA single-game record for putting the ball in the air—69 times. "I think we showed something to a lot of Big Ten teams last year," Fry says. "I hear some of them are switching to more wide-open offenses. I hope so. It sure makes for a more interesting game." Whether it's the razzle-dazzle or the prospect of a winning season, Iowa fans have already bought up all 60,000 seats for every Hawkeye game this fall, the first preseason sellout in the school's history.
One of Fry's first moves was to install Phil Suess, a 6'5" junior and pinpoint passer, at quarterback. Under Bob Commings the season before, Suess had played exactly 8� seconds and saw most of his action as a quarterback for the scout team. Suess responded to the promotion by completing more than 55% of 159 passes in 10 games.
Fry also junked Iowa's old wing T in favor of multiple sets, and he spends a lot of time practicing what he calls "exotic plays." And after "advertising" through the media that Iowa offers starting berths to speedy running backs, he completed a recruiting coup in the Chicago area: two top rushers, J.C. LoveJordan (formerly J.C. Love) and Eddie Phillips, are now Hawkeyes. In all, Fry signed five talented backs, including junior college transfer Glenn Buggs. Says Fry, "I can't wait to hear the P.A. man proclaim we now have Love-Buggs in the lineup."
In contrast to the caution of most coaches, Fry is so much the promoter that a temptation exists to discount his contentions. Are his Hawkeyes really that good? "I'm not saying we're going to be 11-0 and go to the Rose Bowl," he says, "but we're going to put on quite a show. It's about time. After 19 years, our fans deserve it."