Former Hawkeye Tippett on CFB Hall of Fame ballot

By any measure, Tippett, '81 Hawkeyes were a breakthrough

FILE -- University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry serves a meal to his players Mel Cole, left, and Andre Tippett in Los Angeles, where the team is to play against Washington in the Rose Bowl, in this Dec. 23, 1981 photo. (AP photo Nick Ut)
FILE -- University of Iowa football coach Hayden Fry serves a meal to his players Mel Cole, left, and Andre Tippett in Los Angeles, where the team is to play against Washington in the Rose Bowl, in this Dec. 23, 1981 photo. (AP photo Nick Ut)

The question is not if former Iowa DE Andre Tippett deserves a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. The question is where does he stand in Iowa lore?

The answer is pretty high. Like way up there.

Tippett began his college career at Ellsworth in Iowa Fall, so his impact on the Iowa record books is minimal. In two stellar seasons, he still holds the tackles for loss yardage record with 153 yards.

The stats are ancillary when it comes to Tippett. He was the most potent weapon on the 1981 defense, which is the group that turned it all around for Iowa, Hayden Fry and, arguably, the Big Ten.

The '81 Hawkeyes broke through to the Rose Bowl (drubbed by Washington, 28-0, but that's beside the point) and ended several streaks. First and foremost, it was Iowa first Rose Bowl in a span of 23 years. It gave Hayden Fry's era at Iowa a booster rocket. Going into the 1981 season, Fry was 9-13 (8-8 in the Big Ten) in his first two years.

The '81 Hawkeyes' breakthrough also ended 14 consecutive seasons of Ohio State and Michigan dominance. You could argue it opened the door for the rest of the Big Ten. Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State would earn the Rose Bowl berth before 1990.

Tippett was the premier player on that 1981 team. He was a two-time first team all-Big Ten Selection (1980 and 1981) and was captain in 1981. The '81 defense allowed just 253 yards a game, the best number at Iowa outside of Forest Evashevski's fantastic teams of the late 1950s.

Tippett was a big part of putting Iowa on the map. Of course, so was Fry and defensive coordinator Bill Brashier (perhaps the most unsung of all the unsung).


By the way, this fall will mark 21 years since Iowa's last Rose Bowl appearance (1991). An Andre Tippett or two is exactly what Iowa needs to end that streak.

From Iowa sports info:


IOWA CITY, Iowa – Former University of Iowa All-American Andre Tippett is listed on the 2013 Football Bowl Subdivision ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.  The announcement was made Tuesday by the National Football Foundation (NFF).

Tippett earned consensus All-America honors for the Hawkeyes as a senior in 1981.  He is one of 77 former players on the ballot, along with five former college head coaches.  The 2013 Hall of Fame Class will be announced in a press conference in New York City on Tuesday, May 7.

More than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers will take part in the voting process.  The NFF Honors Court, chaired by Gene Corrigan, a former ACC commissioner and NCAA president, makes the final selections.  The 2013 class will be inducted at the 56th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, Dec. 10, in New York City.

Tippett lettered three years at Iowa after a prep career in Newark, N.J.  He led the Hawkeyes to a share of the 1981 Big Ten title and a spot in the 1982 Rose Bowl, Iowa’s first bowl appearance since the 1959 Rose Bowl.  He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a junior and senior.

Tippett holds the Iowa record for tackles for loss yardage (153 yards on 20 TFL).  He led the Big Ten in tackles for loss as a junior.  He served as a team captain as a senior and was selected in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft by New England.

Tippett enjoyed an outstanding NFL playing career that covered 12 seasons.  He was a five-time selection to the Pro Bowl (1984-88) and was named Linebacker of the Year by the NFL Players Association for three straight seasons (1985-87).  He ranked seventh on the NFL’s all-time sack list at the time of his retirement, including third among linebackers.  He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 for the AFC Champion Patriots.

Tippett was named as a defensive end on Iowa’s all-time team and he is a member of Iowa’s National Varsity Club Hall of Fame.  He was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in 1999 and the National Football Hall of Fame in 2008.  He is a member of the NFL’s 1980 All-Decade Team.



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