History Of Iowa Hawkeyes Football
Football was first played as a club sport at Iowa in 1872, with intramural games against other colleges played as early as 1882. But it was in 1889 that the University of Iowa first officially recognized a varsity football team, when Iowa challenged Iowa College to the first intercollegiate football game in the state of Iowa and the first west of the Mississippi River. Grinnell defeated the Hawkeyes, 24-0, and a stone marker still stands in Grinnell Field marking the event.
In 1890, Iowa played its first home game on Iowa Field, losing again to Grinnell, 14-6, but Martin Sampson, the 1889 team captain, blocked a kick and ran 70 yards for the first touchdown in Iowa history. In Iowa's next game, the Hawkeyes scored 19 touchdowns (worth four points each) and registered the first win in school history, defeating Iowa Wesleyan College, 91-0. In 1891, Iowa won three of its five games to finish with the first winning season in school history.
Two significant events marked Iowa's 1892 football team. First, school officials hired E. A. Dalton of Princeton for ten days prior to the season to assemble and organize the team, making him Iowa's first head football coach. Second, Iowa joined its first conference, the Western Interstate University Football Association. Iowa and three other schools, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska, agreed to play annually to determine a conference champion.
Iowa decided to forgo hiring a head coach in 1895 to save money. The plan backfired, as the Hawkeyes limped to a 2-5 record. Iowa football would never again go without a head coach, and school officials hired Alfred E. Bull to coach the 1896 squad. The 1896 Hawkeye team went 7-1-1 and won Iowa's first conference title, claiming the Western Interstate crown in their final year in the conference. Iowa was led in scoring by Frank Holbrook, the first black football player at Iowa.
Alden Knipe coached the team in 1898, and Knipe was the first Iowa football coach ever rehired for a second season in 1899. The 1899 Hawkeyes posted an 8-0-1 record, tying only 1899 Western Conference champion Chicago. The one field goal allowed to Chicago were the only points scored on Iowa all year. Iowa's success that season led to an invitation for membership in the Western Conference, now known as the Big Ten Conference, beginning in 1900.
Read more about History Of Iowa Hawkeyes Football: 1900s & 1910s – Early Era of Iowa Football, 1920s – Howard Jones Era, 1930s – A Football Depression, 1939 – The Year of The Ironmen, 1940s – World War & The Seahawks, 1950s – Forest Evashevski Era, 1960s & 1970s – Two Decades of Losing, 1980s & 1990s – Hayden Fry Era, 2000s – Kirk Ferentz Era
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