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Iowa Hawkeyes football, 1889–97

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The State University of Iowa began playing American football as a club sport in 1872,[1] but it was not until 1889 that Iowa challenged Grinnell College, then-known as Iowa College, to a game of football.[2] On November 16, 1889; the two teams met in Grinnell to play the first game of intercollegiate football west of the Mississippi River.[3] Iowa lost, 24–0, and a rematch between the two teams in Iowa City was canceled due to poor weather.[4]

The next season, Iowa once again played Grinnell, this time in Iowa City. Playing in rain and strong winds, the Hawkeyes lost 14–6, but scored the first touchdown in school history when Martin Sampson blocked a Grinnell kick and returned it 70 yards for the score.[4] However, much displeasure was expressed with this second loss to the Pioneers.[4] The S.U.I. Medics, angry with two straight losses to a "small academy", challenged the varsity team to a game in an attempt to prove that Iowa's team was not composed of the best players available. Confident of their victory, the varsity team accepted, but lost 22–10.[4] The loss brought in multiple changes in personnel and strategy, but it did not deter Iowa from challenging Iowa Wesleyan to a game.[4] In Mount Pleasant, Iowa, the Hawkeyes scored 19 touchdowns, and rolled to the first victory in school history by score of 91–0.[4][5]

In the following years, Iowa began hiring head coaches to assemble and prepare the team before the season, the first being E. A. Dalton of Princeton University, who was hired for ten days before the 1892 season.[6] Following a two-week tenure by Ben Donnelly in 1893, Iowa hired Roger Sherman, who became the first coach to lead the Hawkeyes for the entire season in 1894.[7] In 1895, however, Iowa decided to forgo hiring a head coach, and limped to a 2-5 record under the volunteer efforts of Bill Larrabee.[8] For the last time in school history, the Hawkeyes had gone without a head coach.[9]

The following year, Iowa hired Alfred E. Bull of Penn as the next coach of the Hawkeyes.[8] Under the leadership of one of the greatest centers to date,[8] the Hawkeyes finished with a 7-1-1 record and won the conference championship in the Western Interstate University Football Association.[8][10] Controversy, however, sparked in Iowa's game against the Missouri Tigers. Missouri alumni demanded that the Hawkeyes play the game without Frank Holbrook, Iowa's star black athlete. Iowa refused, and won the game 12–0, amid a hostile crowd in Columbia, Missouri.[10] Holbrook was one of the two players to score a touchdown during the game. Following Bull's tenure, Iowa hired Otto Wagonhurst, the last Hawkeye coach until John G. Griffith in 1909 to lead the team for only one season.[9]


1889 season Edit

1889 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Independent
1889 record 0-1-0
Head coach None
Seasons
« 1888 1890 »

On September 26, 1889, Martin Sampson, who would later score the first touchdown in school history,[4] led a meeting regarding the organization of an S.U.I. football team. It was this suggestion that earned Sampson the title of coach and captain of the team.[2] In the following days, Iowa sent out a challenge to any team in the state of Iowa for a game of football. The one team to accept Iowa's challenge: Iowa College.[2] The Hawkeyes were no strangers to the Pioneers, as the two schools had met on the baseball diamond in the 20 years before.[2] The game date was set for November 16, and the preparations for the game began.[2]

Preparations were difficult at Iowa, as proper management and leadership was obviously lacking at team practices.[3] That was hardly the case with practices at Iowa College. With the help of Frank Everest and Lou Van Giesen, two men with playing experience back east, the Pioneers were able to field a competitive team.[3] Iowa was outmatched, and lost the game, 24–0.[4] Although a rematch was scheduled to be played on Thanksgiving, it was canceled due to inclement weather.[4] With that, Iowa College had won the first championship west of the Mississippi River.[4]

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
November 16 at Iowa College Grinnell Field • Grinnell, IA L 0–24  
November 28* Iowa College Iowa FieldIowa City, IA  Canceled  

* Indicates non-conference game.

1890 season Edit

1890 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Independent
1890 record 1-1-0
Head coach None
Seasons
« 1889 1891 »

Following Iowa's inaugural season in 1889, two games were scheduled for the Hawkeyes to play in 1890.[4] On October 18, the Hawkeyes played Iowa College in Iowa City, only to lose to the Pioneers for the second time in two games.[4] It was this loss that triggered a dispute amongst people within the University. In an attempt to prove that the best football talent was not on the team, the S.U.I. Medics challenged the varsity squad to a game. Confident, the varsity squad accepted, and lost, 22–10.[4] But the loss did not keep Iowa from challenging Iowa Wesleyan, who accepted, under the terms that the game be played in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.[4]

Fifteen hundred fans, including John Marshall Harlan and Robert Todd Lincoln, were in attendance for the Thanksgiving Day game.[4] Using rules that made touchdowns worth four points, the Hawkeyes easily won the game in a rout, 91–0.[4] The Hawkeyes scored 19 touchdowns and five goals after touchdown while A.G. Smith kicked the first field goal in school history.[5] Today, the game still stands as Iowa's third-largest margin of victory in school history.[11]

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 18 Iowa College Iowa FieldIowa City, IA L 6–14  
October18 Iowa Medical Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA L 10–22  
November 27* at Iowa Wesleyan Fairgrounds Park • Mount Pleasant, IA W 91–0  

Did not count against Iowa's record.
* Indicates non-conference game.

1891 season Edit

1891 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Independent
1891 record 3-2
Head coach None
Seasons
« 1890 1892 »

The 1891 football season was one that ended in controversy. Following victories over Cornell and Nebraska, and losses to Minnesota and Iowa College, the Hawkeyes were 2-2 heading into their final game against Kansas in Kansas City, Missouri.[12] Following an argument where Kansas argued that Iowa had not put the ball into play fairly, the Jayhawks left the field claiming a 14–12 victory. However, the game was not called until after the next play, when Iowa scored an uncontested touchdown.[13] Today, Iowa lists the game as an 18–14 Hawkeye victory.[12]

Earlier in the year, two firsts were established in Hawkeye football history. On November 2, the Hawkeyes played rival Minnesota for the first of many times in school history. Later, on November 26, the Hawkeyes played their first game outside the state of Iowa in a win against Nebraska. The game was played in Omaha, Nebraska.[13]

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 24 Cornell (IA) Iowa FieldIowa City, IA W 64–6  
November 2 Minnesota Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA L 4–42  
November 9 at Iowa College Grinnell, IA L 4–6  
November 26 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE W 22–0  
December 5 vs. Kansas Kansas City, MO W 18–14  

The outcome of this game is disputed (see above).
* Indicates a non-conference game.

1892 season Edit

1892 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1892 record 3-2-1 (0-2-1 WIUFA)
Head coach E.A. Dalton
Seasons
« 1891 1893 »
1892 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Kansas 3 0 0     7 1 0
Nebraska 1 1 1     2 2 1
Missouri 1 2 0     1 2 0
Iowa 0 2 1     3 2 1

The 1892 season was one of many firsts for the Hawkeyes. After going three years without a conference, Iowa joined the Western Interstate University Football Association, along with Nebraska, Missouri, and Kansas.[13] But in another first, E. A. Dalton, formerly of Princeton, was hired as Iowa's head coach. Although he was only hired for 10 days prior to the season, he is recognized as Iowa's first head coach.[6]

On the field, the results were relatively modest. After opening the season with two victories, the Hawkeyes found themselves no match for Kansas and Missouri. Criticism was voiced, with the Iowa City Citizen claiming that Iowa lost the Missouri game because of favoritism. Despite this, Iowa ended Iowa College's three-year span of dominance over the Hawkeyes by defeating the Pioneers 18–12 just four days after the loss at Missouri. Soon thereafter, the Hawkeyes ended the season with a 10–10 tie against Nebraska.[6]

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 21* at Coe Cedar Rapids, IA W 48–0  
October 29* Knox Iowa FieldIowa City, IA W 44–0  
November 5 vs. Kansas Kansas City, MO L 4–24  
November 12 at Missouri Rollins FieldColumbia, MO L 0–22  
November 16* Iowa College Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 18–12  
November 24 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE T 10–10  

The final score of this game is disputed.
* Indicates a non-conference game.

1893 season Edit

1893 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1893 record 3-4-0 (1-2-0 WIUFA)
Head coach Ben Donnelly
Seasons
« 1892 1894 »
1893 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Kansas 2 1 0     2 5 0
Missouri 2 1 0     4 3 0
Nebraska 1 2 0     3 2 1
Iowa 1 2 0     3 4 0

The 1893 Iowa Hawkeyes football team featured a new head coach in Ben Donnelly. Like Dalton, Donnelly was only hired before the season to prepare and assemble the team. Donnelly was disliked compared to his predecessor but it did not stop Iowa from getting their first victory in the WIUFA with a win over Missouri.

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 7* at Coe Cedar Rapids, IA W 56-0  
October 14* at Denver AC Denver, CO L 0-58  
October 21* Luther Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 32-0  
November 4 vs. Kansas Kansas City, MO L 24-35  
November 11* at Iowa College Grinnell, IA L 14-36  
November 18 Missouri Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 34-12  
November 23 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE L 18-20  

The final score of this game is disputed.
* Indicates a non-conference game.

1894 season Edit

1894 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1894 record 4-4-1 (1-2-0 WIUFA)
Head coach Roger Sherman
Seasons
« 1893 1895 »
1894 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Nebraska 2 1 0     6 2 0
Missouri 2 1 0     4 3 0
Kansas 1 2 0     2 3 1
Iowa 1 2 0     4 4 1

The 1894 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was the first Hawkeye team to play against in-state rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes would also play future Big Ten rivals Chicago and Wisconsin for the first time. The team's coach was Roger Sherman.

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 1* Iowa State Iowa FieldIowa City, IA L 8-16  
October 13* Cornell (IA) Iowa field • Iowa City, IA W 60-0  
October 20* at Augustana (IL) Rock Island, IL W 34-0  
October 27* at Chicago Marshall FieldChicago, IL T 18-18  
October 29* at Wisconsin Randall FieldMadison, WI L 0-44  
November 3 Kansas Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 14-12  
November 10* Iowa College Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 6-0  
November 19 at Missouri Rollins FieldColumbia, MO L 6-32  
November29 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE L 0-36  

The final score of this game is disputed.
* Indicates a non-conference game.

1895 season Edit

1895 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1895 record 2-5-0 (0-3-0 WIUFA)
Head coach None
Seasons
« 1894 1896 »
1895 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Kansas 2 1 0     6 1 0
Nebraska 2 1 0     6 3 0
Missouri 2 1 0     7 1 0
Iowa 0 3 0     2 5 0

The 1895 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was the last Hawkeye football team to go without a head coach when the university decided to forgo hiring a professional football coach.[14] The plan backfired, and although the team posted victories over Parsons College and Penn College, they failed to score in each of their five losses. The next year, Iowa would hire Alfred E. Bull as the team's next coach.

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 12* Doane Iowa FieldIowa City, IA L 0-10  
October 19* at Parsons Fairfield, IA W 28-0  
October 28* Iowa State Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA L 0-24  
November 2 at Kansas McCook FieldLawrence, KS L 0-52  
November 18 at Missouri Rollins FieldColumbia, MO L 0-34  
November 19 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE L 0-6  
November 28* at Penn (IA) Oskaloosa, IA W 14-12  

* Indicates a non-conference game.

1896 season Edit

1896 Iowa Hawkeyes football
WIUFA Champions
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1896 record 7-1-1 (3-0-1 WIUFA)
Head coach Alfred E. Bull
Seasons
« 1895 1897 »
1896 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Iowa 2 0 1     7 1 1
Kansas 2 1 0     7 3 0
Nebraska 1 1 1     6 3 1
Missouri 0 3 0     7 5 0

The 1896 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was the first Hawkeye football team to win a conference championship. The Hawkeyes went undefeated against the likes of Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and had only one loss to Chicago. In fact, the team allowed only 12 points the entire season.

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 3* Drake Iowa FieldIowa City, IA W 32-0  
October 10* at Chicago Marshall FieldChicago, IL L 0-6  
October 26 Kansas Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 6-0  
November 4* Wilton Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 27-0  
November 9 at Missouri Rollins FieldColumbia, MO W 12-0  
November 14* at Iowa College Grinnell, IA W 15-6  
November 21* at Des Moines YMCA Des Moines, IA W 34-0  
November 26 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE T 0-0  
November 28 vs. Nebraska Omaha, NE W 6-0  

* Indicates a non-conference game.

1897 season Edit

1897 Iowa Hawkeyes football
Conference Western Interstate University Football Association
1897 record 4-4-0 (0-2-0 WIUFA)
Head coach Otto Wagonhurst
Seasons
« 1896 1898 »
1897 Western Interstate football standings
v · d · e Conf     Overall
Team W   L   T     W   L   T
Nebraska 3 0 0     5 1 0
Kansas 2 1 0     8 2 0
Iowa 0 2 0     4 4 0
Missouri 0 2 0     5 6 0

The 1897 Iowa Hawkeyes football team was coached by Otto Wagonhurst, the last coach in Iowa Hawkeyes football history to coach for only one season. The next year, Iowa would hire Alden Knipe as the team's head coach. However, Iowa's success in the WIUFA did not last long, as the Hawkeyes once again became an independent school from 1898 to 1899.

Schedule Edit

Date Opponent Site Result
October 2* Wilton Iowa FieldIowa City, IA W 22-4  
October 16* at Northwestern Evanston, IL W 12-6  
October 23* Physicians & Surgeons Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA L 0-14  
October 30 at Kansas McCook FieldLawrence, KS L 0-56  
November 5* Iowa State Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA L 0-6  
November 13* at Drake Haskins FieldDes Moines, IA W 16-0  
November 20* Iowa College Iowa Field • Iowa City, IA W 16-12  
November 25 vs. Nebraska Council Bluffs, IA L 0-6  

The final score of this game is disputed.
* Indicates a non-conference game.

See also Edit

References Edit

  • MacCambridge, M. (2005) ESPN College Football Encyclopedia. New York: ESPN Books. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
  • Lamb, D. and McGrane, B. (1964) 75 Years with the Fighting Hawkeyes. WM. C. Brown Company. ASIN B0007E01F8

Notes Edit

  1. Lamb, D. and McGrane, B., p. ix.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 1.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 2.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 3.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 6.
  7. Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 7.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 10.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Yearly Record". HawkeyeSports.com. http://hawkeyesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/a-res-yearly-records.html. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 11.
  11. "Largest Margins". HawkeyeSports.com. http://hawkeyesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/a-rec-largest-margins.html. Retrieved 2007-08-09.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "All-Time Scores". HawkeyeSports.com. http://hawkeyesports.cstv.com/sports/m-footbl/archive/a-res-all-time-scores.html. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Lamb, D and McGrane, B, p. 5.
  14. Lamb, D and McGrane, B, page x.

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