'Fryisms': Hayden Fry scratched where it itched, and then some

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Hayden Fry celebrates with players Richard Willock (left) and Vernon Rollins (right) after the
Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Hayden Fry celebrates with players Richard Willock (left) and Vernon Rollins (right) after the Hawkeyes defeated Washington 38-18 in the 1995 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas. (Associated Press)

Hayden Fry, who died Tuesday at the age of 90, was best known as the man who turned the Iowa football program into a winner after decades of losing.

But he was equally well known for his turn of a phrase. He brought his own Texas lexicon with him to Iowa when he became the Hawkeyes’ coach in late 1978.

Fry is credited for things that have remained in place with Iowa football to this day, 21 years after his retirement. Included are the Hawkeyes’ Swarm entrance and exit from the field, and the pink walls in the visiting locker room.

About the Swarm, Fry said “I wanted the players to feel like they were part of a family, to be conscious of that controlled togetherness as they made that slow entrance onto the field. It had a great psychological effect on the opposing team, too. They’d never seen anything like it.”


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The origin of the pink visitors’ locker room walls in Kinnick Stadium depended on who was telling it, but this was Fry’s version: “When I talked to a coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I’ve got him. I can’t recall a coach who has stirred up a fuss about the color and then beat us.”

Here’s a sampling of “Fryisms,” not including his famed “lil’ dumpling” or “high-porch picnic” references.

“You just witnessed an old-fashioned rump kicking.”

“We have to be realistic. If we don’t win, life will continue.”

“If you stay with this game long enough, the worm is bound to turn.”

“Welcome to the Salvation Army. I’ve never been associated with an offense so nice about giving the ball away.”

“When it’s football season, I’m all football.”

“We changed our image. At least when we ran out of the field or broke the huddle, we would look like winners.”

“Some folks think we just came to town on a load on wood.”

“When you take over a program that’s been down, you have to plow up snakes and kill ‘em.”

“We’ll take what the other teams give us. We’ll scratch where it itches.”