(Des Moines, IA) The retired University of Iowa football coach who earlier this year said he had no intention of becoming a politician himself was front-and-center on the political stage this weekend at a GOP campaign event.
Hayden Fry received a standing ovation from the crowd of over 2,000 who gathered in a building on the Iowa State Fairgrounds for a fundraiser featuring Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush.
“Doesn’t take you folks long to straighten out your shorts, does it?” Fry joked as the crowd stood to give him a standing ovation.
“I’ve got to keep my remarks short tonight. You didn’t come here to hear me, but I want to tell you something personal. I probably recognize at least half of you fine people here tonight and the other half – I recognize your voices,” Fry said in reference to the Iowa/Iowa State rivalry which exists in the state.
Fry quickly and succinctly threw his support to the front-runner in the race for the G.O.P. presidential nomination.
“Any of you know what the W. stands for in George W. Bush? It’s capitol W-I-N-N-E-R. Winner!” Fry said as the crowd got to its feet again with an ovation.
Bush, the Texas governor who’s the son of former President George H.W. Bush, later described for the crowd the Bush family’s long-term relationship with Fry.
“When I was two years old, my dad and my mother moved to Odessa, Texas, and rumor has it they stayed kinda close to Hayden Fry. You see, he was an Odessa football star when I grew up in west Texas,” Bush said. “His legend was big in Texas. His legend is obviously huge in Iowa and I’m thrilled to have his support for running for President of the United States.
“I appreciate you, buddy,” Bush said.
Fry was the coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes for 20 years. At age 69, Fry announced his retirement last November after leading the Hawks to 14 bowl games and three Big Ten titles. Before he came to Iowa City, the University of Iowa football team had suffered through 17 consecutive losing seasons.
Fry coached at North Texas and Southern Methodist, too, compiling 232 victories in his head coaching career.