University of Iowa
1957 - 64 Hawkeyes
With twenty-one lettermen returning from the Rose Bowl victors, hopes for a repeat type of season in ’57 were high, especially after crushing Utah State 70-14 in the opener. At that home game fans noted that the helmets of their beloved Hawkeyes had changed slightly. The Green Bay gold shell with black one-inch center stripe now sported numerals on each side that were a bit different than those used in 1956. The two-inch numerals had been replaced on each side with black three-inch numbers and Coach Evy chose the thin, rounded type that later became referred to as “Charger” style numbers. These were a bit easier to view on television and from the stands and were very well accepted and this style was maintained through the 1964 season. Once again the Hawkeyes ripped off their first five wins, and again as they did in '56, stumbled against Michigan, this time finishing in a 21-21 tie. The 17-13 loss to Ohio State in the conference finale upended their championship hopes despite the thirty-six receptions made by All American team captain Jim Gibbons, the 1124 passing yards from All Big Ten QB Randy Duncan, and the brutal line play of tackle Alex Karras who again was a consensus first-team All American, the winner of the Outland Trophy, and runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Gibbons finished at Iowa as the team’s leading receiver for three consecutive years and had a huge nine catches for 164-yard day against Minnesota. He followed with a very solid pro career with the Lions for eleven years. Karras too was a Detroit Lion and made the All Pro team four times in a twelve-year career. The Hawkeyes 7-1-1 record ranked them fifth in the nation.
SPOTLIGHT ON ALEX KARRAS:
followed in his older brother Ted's footsteps and was a three-time All State
football star at Emerson H.S. in Gary, IN. Deemed "fat and sassy" by his college
coach Forest Evashevski who stated that Karras could have been left to "coast
aimlessly through life if I hadn't laid down the law", their adversarial
relationship caused Karras to briefly quit the squad and school until his mother
forced him to return. He came into his own as a feared, powerful, and quick
tackle who often utilized the wrestling skills that made him the NCAA
heavyweight champion his senior year, to move opponents out of his way. A
two-time All American, Karras was second in the Heisman voting to 1957’s winner
John David Crow and won the Outland Trophy while being recognized as the best
collegiate lineman in the nation. Karras entered professional wrestling before
reporting to the Detroit Lions as their number-one draft choice for the 1958
season. In an infamous disagreement with NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle over the
gambling activities that occurred at the Lindell AC Bar he owned, Karras was
suspended for the 1963 season. He returned to pro wrestling until resuming his
Lions career, one in which he was a four-time All Pro. In 1968 a film adaptation
of author George Plimption's book Paper Lion was made and Karras received many
accolades for playing himself in the movie. Retiring from football in 1971,
Karras, hailed as one of the fastest defensive linemen of his time, became a
full-time actor in a number of movies, spent three years as a commentator for
Monday Night Football, and starred in his own sitcom series. A member of the
College Football Hall Of Fame and Iowa's All Time team, Karras remains one of
the greatest players to come out of the Midwest.
A tie with Air Force in 1958’s second game awakened the squad to reality and only Ohio State was, once again, the stumbling block to an undefeated season. The Hawkeyes finished with a 7-1-1 record, a number-two national ranking behind National Champion LSU, and they earned a berth in their second Rose Bowl in a three-year period. Iowans felt they had the world's greatest coach as his Wing-T Offense became the “hot” attack in college football and Coach Evy became a sought-after speaker. QB Randy Duncan took over the team and was an All American while also playing safety. He led the nation in passing yardage and completion percentage and the Iowa offense topped the Big Ten in every offensive category, rolling up 416.7 yards-per-game, second-best in the country. Duncan’s pinpoint passing augmented the rushing of HB Ray Jauch who later became one of the CFL's most successful coaches and headed the USFL Washington Federals. Soph HB Willie "The Wisp" Fleming was All Conference in part due to his 240-yards rushing performance against Michigan. The Wing-T utilized the speed of Fleming and HB Bob Jeter (7.2 yards per carry) and the power of FB Don Horn, a perfect blend. Ends Don Norton and All American Curt Merz were on the other end of Duncan's passes and the receiving corps was referred to as “The Gluefinger Gang”. After pounding Cal 38-12 in the Rose Bowl with Jeter the MVP, Iowa was ranked second in the nation to LSU, Evashevski won a number of Coach Of The Year titles, and Duncan was second to Pete Dawkins in the Heisman voting while winning honors as the Big Ten MVP and Walter Camp Award recipient. He was the first draft pick of the lowly Packers and the first overall pick in the NFL draft but instead opted to play a year in Canada before briefly returning to the NFL and then building a successful career in law. Iowa was now viewed as a national power.
1959 was greeted with the graduation loss of a number of stars and this was compounded by the academic problems of others, leaving the squad somewhat depleted. HB Willie Fleming left school to play in Canada and he made the CFL Hall Of Fame with a career rushing average of over seven yards-per-carry. RB's Ray Jauch and All Conference Bob Jeter (609 yards) carried the load with soph QB Wilburn Hollis. Don Norton snared thirty passes to make All American and then was a key part of the Chargers teams of the sixties, but the Hawkeyes struggled, losing three Big Ten contests and finishing 5-4. Jeter, out of both Dunbar and Weir High Schools in Weirton, WV, followed Fleming to Canada after the season ended and played excellent football there before joining the Packers in '63 to sit behind other receivers on the roster. It took another two years before he became a DB of All Pro quality on the great Green Bay teams. Jeter has distinguished himself in his Chicago community as a foster parent and one of his sons is now a college basketball coach. Merz again was a dominant lineman and was the number-one draft choice of the new AFL New York Titans. He played on both sides of the ball as a pro, at guard and defensive end and was with the Dallas Texans/KC Chiefs during their inaugural Super Bowl era, playing under Head Coach Hank Stram from 1962 through '68. Marked as a "rebuilding year" by Evashevski, 1960 would instead become a co-Big Ten Championship season with only a loss to National Champion Minnesota marring the record and costing the Hawkeyes another Rose Bowl berth. HB Larry Ferguson exploded onto the scene with 665 yards and QB Hollis was a fine leader. Long Island's Bernie Wyatt, who set a Suffolk County scoring record at Amityville High School, was the team MVP, and had a number of key interceptions during the season. One of his INT’s saved the Michigan State game.
As his feud with AD Paul Brechler percolated, Evashevski threatened to quit in the winter of 1961, and the Evy Era at Iowa ended with Brechler leaving and Evashevski giving up his coaching position and becoming the full time Athletic Director. Assistant Coach Jerry Burns was Evy's successor and immediately had the pressure of being named the pre-season favorite for the National Championship. Despite an impressive resume of being an assistant at Hawaii, the backfield coach at Whittier College under George Allen, and Evy's top offensive hand at Iowa, Burns was in an impossible situation having to follow the very successful and popular coach who had put Iowa football on the national map. '60's leading rusher Larry Ferguson went down for the season in ‘61’s opening game against Cal. QB Wilburn Hollis was lost for the season with a wrist injury in the second game. Four consecutive wins were followed by four straight losses and only the defeat of a poor Notre Dame team made for a winning 5-4 season. Bill Van Buren received All American recognition at center but the fans were very disappointed. They would have been elated at the final result had they known that 1961 would be their last winning season for twenty-years! Trying to build a passing attack for 1962, Burns installed an unbalanced line with one tackle and five backs that could go into pass patterns and called it a “Floating-T Formation”. The passing statistics fell off from '61 and the team slipped to 4-5 but HB Ferguson returned from his 1961 injury to lead the rushers with 547 yards and make the All Big Ten team before playing one season with the Lions. HB Paul Krause was the leading receiver with only sixteen catches which for the most part, underscored the ineptitude of the new offense. Fan unrest was definite and getting louder.
Even with a fine pair of guards in All American Mike Reilly (five years with the Bears, one with the Vikings) and Wally Hilgenberg ('64 through '79 with the Lions and Vikings as a guard and LB), a lack of offensive experience resulted in a three-game stretch that produced a total of ten points and a poor 3-3-2 record for the 1963 season. Captain HB Paul Krause ran and caught the passes of QB Gary Snook and doubled as one of the best pass defenders in the nation. He had a great pro career and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
SPOTLIGHT ON PAUL KRAUSE:
A do-it-all player for the Hawkeyes, Paul Krause returned kicks, caught passes and ran from the wingback and flanker positions. He defended from his spot in the secondary on par with anyone in the nation. Somewhat under publicized on poor Iowa teams, Krause was still recognized as one of the best pass defenders anywhere and a deadly tackler. Setting a school record for TD receptions in the '63 season, Iowa's poor record and the terrific play of All American guard Mike Reilly pushed Krause into the shadows a bit but the pros knew him well and as the team captain, his ability was highly respected by his teammates. As the Redskins’ number-two draft choice in '64, he was an immediate sensation in the pro game, intercepting twelve passes, an ability he would show throughout his Pro Football Hall Of Fame career, setting an NFL career record of eighty-one! All Pro as a rookie, a feat he would repeat three more times, Krause added five All NFC years to his resume and he was eventually named to twelve Pro Bowls. Despite his continuing success, the Redskins blundered in trading Krause to the Vikings prior to the '68 season. He put in another twelve spectacular years with the Vikings as part of four Super Bowl squads, a career that culminated in the singular honor of being named to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
The prevailing feeling on campus and throughout the state was that Iowa was outplayed and the 3-6 record of 1964 was unacceptable. Junior QB Gary Snook was All Conference with his 2062 passing yards as was flanker Karl Noonan with 59 receptions for 933 yards. Guard John Niland from Long Island's Amityville H.S. was named second-team All American and the Hawkeyes had a good soph group. The rush game however, was terrible, averaging but 2.8 yards per carry.
If interested in any of these IOWA helmets please click on the photos below.