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TERPSTRA – Hawkeyes may need to ‘scratch where it itches’ to pull one out in Ames

By Kelly Terpstra, kterpstra@charlescitypress.com

Somewhere and somehow Paul Rhoads and Dan McCarney will take a gander at the television set come Saturday. They’ll watch and hope for a good game when Iowa takes on Iowa State in Ames this weekend. This in-state football rivalry is as hyped this year as it has ever been.

Heck, McCarney will probably be up in the pressbox, smiling – win or lose – while being catered to in a luxurious suite over at Jack Trice Stadium. I wouldn’t be shocked if former Iowa coach Hayden Fry and McCarney are spotted reminiscing about the good ol’ days, laughing like it’s 1985 all over again. I’m sure Rhoads won’t hesitate to check his smartphone, either, for updated Cy-Hawk scores while preparing a game plan for his UCLA Bruins when they host top-5 Oklahoma later that night.

All eyes in Iowa – at least a majority – will be laser-focused on the outcome of the gridiron battle.

TERPSTRA - Hawkeyes may need to 'scratch where it itches' to pull one out in Ames
Kelly Terpstra

There’s plenty on the line.

This here Cy-Hawk football rivalry is no high-porch picnic anymore, Hawkeye fans.

That’s Texas slang, by the way. Those words are just one linguistic set of phrases and a vernacular all its own called “Haydenisms.” The choice terminology about a picnic is best described by Fry as having an “exceptionally good time.”

The tables have turned after Iowa dominated the series for the latter part of the 20th century.

Matt Campbell has an emerging Big 12 power with his Cyclones. Iowa isn’t too shabby either. Both teams were ranked in the preseason for the first time ever in 2019. Oh, and this little TV show called ESPN GameDay is showing up for the contest and will allow fans the chance to witness Lee Corso in all his infinite glory.

Needless to say Ames will have a few ardent football followers milling around in its many parking lots near the campus.

This should be a good one. I’m not making any prediction, but I will say that each team will make a bowl game this year. Yeah, I know that’s really going out on a limb, but I prefer to err on the side of staying silent on matters this close to my heart. To make the reward for victory even sweeter, the team with the most points scored takes home the Cy-Hawk Trophy.

Yippee!!!!!!

Iron Bowl, eat your heart out.

While the Cy-Hawk series isn’t nationally regarded like ballyhooed in-state tussles such as the “Sunshine Showdown or “Bedlam,” the rivalry has been a good one over the last two decades (Iowa leads the series 11-10 since 1998).

Certain Cyclone fans still might have a bad taste in their mouth because of the whoopin’ Fry-coached Iowa teams took out on Iowa State from 1983 to 1997. The football folks in Ames suffered through 15-straight years of futility of getting taken behind the woodshed by Herky and his Hawkeyes.

Scores such as 51-10 and 43-7 weren’t uncommon during that rough patch for the two Jim’s – Walden and Criner. They were the head coaches of Iowa State during that losing streak in what was a miserable era for the gridiron cardinal and gold clad squads. It’s an ISU history that has many rough patches.

That was before Danny Mac rolled into Ames.

McCarney, just like his mentor Fry, resurrected his team from the nether regions of its conference and made football fun again in Ames. The Cyclones hadn’t had that much fun since Earl Bruce sent them bowling in the late 70s.

As far as coaches go, McCarney was a winner and it was sad to see him forced out after leading the Cyclones to five bowl games. Prior to McCarney taking over, Iowa State had been to three bowl games since the Cyclones first suited up in 1892.

McCarney was a Hawkeye long before he was a Cyclone. He was team captain for the Hawkeyes in 1974, when he played on the offensive line under Bob Commings. Commings would give way to Fry.

Fry is quite simply a living legend. He’s also a cancer survivor and just an all-around nice guy. He turned 90 this past February. He darn near could have been governor of Iowa if he would have chose to run. He was that popular in the Hawkeye State during his heyday.

Getting to three Rose Bowls and having a lead character in a sitcom named after you tends to give one an indication that you’re probably well liked. That TV show is “Coach” and the character is Hayden Fox, played by Craig T. Nelson.

Fry was a high school teacher before he hit big time college football. He was also a Marine. When he took over at SMU in the early ’60s, he recruited one of the first black players ever in the Southwest Conference.

I call Fry a pioneer.

I have a story to tell about Fry. It was told to me by a good friend, maybe you know him – James Grob. He also happens to work at the Charles City Press and, like Fry, is a cancer survivor.

The story James told me probably 15 years ago always stuck with me.

See James, like many Hawkeye fans, is a University of Iowa alum. And like many accomplished writers, his career sprouted from humble beginnings while going to school in Iowa City.

James held a job at Taco John’s, which I have to say is probably my favorite fast food restaurant. A close second is Hardees, where I worked while going to school. I do have to say, if you haven’t worked in the fast food industry, it’s a decent job. You learn a lot about yourself and the people that frequent such establishments.

They were good times and I can’t complain – especially when I got my double cheeseburgers for half price while on the clock.

But as the story goes, in the mid-’80s, Fry waltzed right into TJ’s when James was working a shift one day. This is kind of a big deal, as far as celebrity sightings go. Fry wouldn’t mind mingling with the masses and isn’t afraid to be seen in public. It’s another reason why Fry was so loved. He was relatable. He didn’t have to hire an assistant to go get his tacos. He’d get them himself – to go.

At this point in his Hall of Fame career, Fry was probably the most recognizable face in Iowa. You could make an argument much beloved Iowa Gov. Robert Ray held that mantle prior to Fry becoming as popular as the golden and crispy Potato Oles that I’m sure James was dropping in the fryer on occasion.

TV timeout for halftime intermission.

Interesting fun fact, the Cy-Hawk Trophy was first presented to the winning team in 1977 by Gov. Ray. Iowa won that game 12-10. Another tidbit to chew on, Fry’s first win at Iowa came at the expense of the Cyclones in 1979. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones 30-14 that season. Iowa State went 8-4 that fall and went to the Peach Bowl, while Iowa played to a 5-6 clip.

Iowa is gunning for its fifth Cy-Hawk series win in a row on Saturday.

As well-mannered and cordial as Fry could be, he did have a temper. His rants on the sideline after miscues or bad calls by the zebras weren’t uncommon. But mistakes happen and while angry, Fry usually never stayed mad for long. Fry’s mettle would be tested after he walked through the doors of the establishment.

If the Potato Oles aren’t enough to draw you to the fast food Mexican restaurant that first opened in Wyoming in 1969, the salsa will. It’s got just the right amount of sweetness and bite that is uniquely TJ’s.

Well, Fry — wearing his trademark white pants — was helping himself to some of that salsa. That’s when the unthinkable happened. The lid popped off the squeeze bottle holding the salsa. Call it a fumbled snap or a flea flicker gone awry, but that salsa ended up on Fry’s white jeans.

It’s going to be hard for anyone to keep their composure in a situation like that. No doubt made even more difficult with the choice of your attire – light colored denim. Needless to say Fry was hot and I’m not talking about the heat in the salsa. Fry was plum perturbed. Angry that he fumbled that salsa right onto his jeans and stinkin’ mad he embarrassed himself.

But he only stayed that way for a second or two. Heroes and legends know how to bounce back after pitfalls that slow them down.

James would tell me later on in the story that Fry kept it together and proceeded to walk out of the restaurant with his dignity intact. James said his manager was beyond embarrassed and continuously apologized that the salsa lid wasn’t screwed on tight. An honest mistake that Fry accepted. There was no need to cuss any employee out for the unintentional gaffe. That wasn’t Fry’s style. Remember, Fry was a teacher. He understands mistakes happen and people learn from them.

No one will ever know if those white jeans were ruined by that salsa. I guess it doesn’t matter in the long run. We all spill things, but we all don’t wear white jeans.

That my friend, is classic Hayden Fry.

Well, obviously in addition to his signature sunglasses.

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