University of Iowa


1968 Hawkeyes
(Authentic Reproduction)

 

 

 

 

1968s 5-5 season had an undercurrent of dissension as there was a growing rift between AD Forest Evashevski and Head Coach Ray Nagel. There was also more offense with QB Podolak occasionally shifting to tailback and making All Big 10 with 937 yards rushing, 286 of those against Northwestern, a school record that stood for almost thirty years. Podolak completed his Iowa career with 4026 yards in total offense and then brought his versatility to the Kansas City Chiefs for nine years as a clutch performer. Again Mike Cilek filled in well at QB when needed and soph Larry Lawrence, son of Ted Lawrence the freshmen team coach, showed passing ability, leading the squad with 1307 yards. The backs were fast with Dennis Green and Wingback Kerry Reardon the best of them. Guard Joe Meskimen was All Conference in opening the holes up front. The Iowa helmet that featured the very noticeable and attractive striping arrangement of a black one-inch center stripe flanked by one-half-inch white stripes was augmented for 1968 only, with award designations for outstanding play that consisted of one-inch Green Bay gold H-A-W-K letters that were trimmed in black, and black Flying Hawk award decals. The "HAWK" award letters were placed at the rear of the helmet and the "Flying Hawk" award was placed only on the right side of the helmet for those earning them.

 

In April of 1969, two African-American players, Charles Bolden and Greg Allison, were told not to report to spring practice until "personal problems" were rectified. Allison needed to boost his grades and Bolden had legal issues. A total of sixteen Blacks boycotted the first day of spring ball and were immediately dismissed as per team and department rules while four other Blacks participated in team activities. On August 28, twelve of the sixteen made individual presentations to their teammates in an effort to be readmitted onto the squad; seven were accepted, five were rejected by a vote of the players. Starting FB Tim Sullivan was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle and broke an ankle thus missing the entire season. It seemed as if AD Evashevski was undermining Nagel with television and radio commentary that second-guessed the head coach. With all of the negativity and distractions, that the Hawkeyes could muster a 5-5 record was almost a miracle although one loss was to previously 0-19-1 Wisconsin! QB was ably shared by Larry Lawrence and Mike Cilek who was drafted by the Browns and today, is an owner of a very large real estate company in Iowa with former All-Time Iowa Team member Jerry Hilgenberg who played in the early 1950's. OG Joe Meskimen again was All Conference, paving the way for backs Levi Mitchell (900 yards), Dennis Green, and WB Kerry Reardon who hauled in 43 passes for 738 yards. Green of course, went on to coaching fame under Bill Walsh and then on his own in the NFL, heading the Minnesota Vikings and then the Arizona Cardinals until the end of the 2006 season.

 

The tumultous '69 season was made to look like a calm sea compared to 1970 and the fireworks began early. On January 20th, 1970 Nagel dismissed assistant coach Gary Grouwinkel who had played on Evashevski's glory teams of the late '50's citing disloyalty to him as head coach. This deepened the problems between AD and head coach with most in-the-know agreeing that Evy was in fact making it difficult for Nagel to recruit and win, perhaps in an attempt to again become head coach or to preserve his Iowa legacy. It got ugly when weeks later, frosh coach Ted Lawrence quit, citing an inability to exist with Nagel and took his son, starting QB Larry with him. Larry transferred to Miami (FL) and later played with the Raiders and Bucs in a three-season NFL career. During the '69 season finale at Illinois a local photographer had snapped a photo of Nagel and Illinois' most highly-sought recruit Harold Johnson, standing together during the game on the Iowa sideline. As this type of contact was strictly prohibited by the NCAA and Big Ten, a ninety-day ban on recruiting was slapped on Iowa and a ton of bad press buried them for months. In May team morale plummeted as Nagel was fired on a Tuesday and then rehired on a Friday "for at least one more season", leaving the squad completely confused. Predictably, the team skidded to 3-6-1 as Roy Bash tried to take the QB job and the offensive production was left to Levi Mitchell who picked up 623 yards. Kerry Reardon again was the leading receiver and went on to a solid six-year stint with the Chiefs. DB Craig Clemons was the interception leader, a gem among a disheartened group.

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