For years the Little Eight was awestruck and intimidated by Hayes at Ohio State and Bo at Michigan. After so many losses at the hands of the Big Two, the Little Eight coaches started copying them. That didn't work, either. But then along came not only 30-95, but new faces and new ideas. It was too much for Woody, who punched his way out of the business—it was only coincidence that the immediate cause was an intercepted pass—and the jury is still out on how Bo will adjust. Meanwhile, all the other coaches have new courage and new resolve—thanks again, Wisconsin—and there is nothing more dangerous and confusing to the old order than a conference full of players and coaches who can look at the scoreboard and get proof that they are just as good as anybody else.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Iowa. The Hawkeyes went to the Rose Bowl after the 1956 and '58 seasons and tied for the Big Ten title in '60, all under Forest Evashevski. Then the Hawkeyes dived under the rock, and four coaches couldn't get them flying again. Last year, when Iowa had a predictable 4-7 season, Fry, coach No. 5, didn't look as if he could, either. So what that he had copied the Pittsburgh Steeler uniforms (down to the exact width of the stripes) and put his team in them, hoping some of the Steeler excellence would rub off? They still played like Hawks.
But the Iowa fans kept on hoping and cheering and attending, and the Hawk-eyes began showing some steel. Saturday's defeat? We're talking progress, not miracles. Hayden was calm before the game. "If we don't get it," he said, "we'll tee it up again next week. People will come. It's the only dance in town." Evashevski, now a color man for Iowa football broadcasts on WHO radio in Des Moines, took a stab at describing the essential decency of Iowa's fans thusly: "They wear rubbers when it rains and take them off before they come into your house."
Fry may act as if he just rode into town on the back of a wagonload of wood, but that's just his way. Of his players he demands blood, sweat and tears—and then the real work begins. Iowa has recruited heavily in New Jersey and New York (17 kids from those states are on the roster, including five starters) and isn't shy about picking up junior college players, either. Both Illinois and Iowa recruit J.C. athletes, something Michigan and Ohio State frown on. It's sort of like buying a ready-made team off the rack, they figure. Fry is winning this year with players generally unwanted elsewhere; for example, Defensive End Andre Tippett of Newark, N.J., now a top pro prospect, and Reggie Roby, the nation's leading punter with a 50.2 average despite a poor day Saturday, from Waterloo, Iowa. Only a few teams besides the Hawkeyes went after Roby.
Iowa can kick and defend, but the offense has been sputtering. Although the Hawkeyes gained 204 yards against Minnesota, just 116 of them were on the ground, and they have scored only one touchdown in their last two games. Bear in mind, however, that the team has lost eight starting offensive players to injury, including the entire starting backfield. Minnesota was no offensive powerhouse itself last Saturday, but it got four field goals—all the Gopher scoring—from Jim Gallery, including a 52-yarder in windy Kinnick Stadium. "Our offense just wasn't worth a flip," said Fry. "We lost to Minnesota because they beat us." Iowa got a 34-yard field goal from Freshman Tom Nichol, but he missed two other attempts late in the game that would have won it. Iowa scored its touchdown on a two-yard run by Tailback Phil Blatcher to culminate a 40-yard drive in the third quarter.
The hot novelty item in Iowa City these days is something called Hawkeye Pain Pills. The directions read: "Take two tablets with a large glass of your favorite spirits. Repeat as often as necessary to achieve the desired level of pain relief or until you forget why you are taking these pills." While Iowa fans needed them most last weekend, the entire Big Ten might do well to lay in a supply as its members keep inflicting pain and surprise on one another.