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Flashback to 1980 . . . part 2

Hawk Talk
Ronnie Lester led the 1980 Hawkeye basketball team to the NCAA Final Four, but an injury sidelined Lester in the semifinal against Louisville. (photos courtesy Iowa Athletic Communications)

This is the second part of a story about 1980, Hayden Fry’s second season as football coach at the University of Iowa.
I was still living in Moville, Iowa, the place I grew up. I would be moving to North Liberty in December after Christmas.
Ronald Reagan was to become the 40th president of the United States and home computers were just getting started. A gallon of gas went for $1.19 and you could buy a stamp for 15 cents.
Steve McQueen and Jesse Owens died in 1980 along with John Lennon, who was shot and killed in New York City. CNN was founded by Ted Turner in 1980. Top songs included “Call Me” by Blondie and “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd.
People were watching how bad J.R. could be on “Dallas” and Daisy’s hot shorts on “Dukes of Hazzard.” “The Empire Strikes Back” and “The Blues Brothers” were two of the top movies that year.
In 1980, the USA upset Russia in hockey and beat Finland to win the gold medal. USA boycotted the summer Olympics because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won their fourth Super Bowl and rookie Magic Johnson helped the Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA championship. The Philadelphia Phillies won their first and only World Series over the Kansas City Royals. The Georgia Bulldogs won the NCAA football championship and the Louisville Cardinals were NCAA champions in basketball.

Back in Iowa City,

Carver-Hawkeye Arena was being built and the Hawkeye football team started the 1980 season 1-4. The Hawks opened the season with a win over Indiana then lost to Nebraska, Iowa State, Arizona and Illinois.
It was Homecoming the following week and Northwestern was in town.
Iowa had a six-game winning streak against the Wildcats and their 25-3 victory made it seven straight.
Hayden called four Statue of Liberty plays. Phil Blatcher carried one of them for 51 yards and Jeff Brown got 63 on another.
Phil got his first start at tailback and gained 148 yards on 19 carries.
Iowa traveled to Minnesota the next week and lost, 24-6.
The Hawks’ only scores were field goals by Reggie Roby and Lon Olejniczak. Reggie missed four field goals, Iowa fumbled seven times (losing four) and netted only 24 yards on 34 carries.
Phil Suess was sacked eight times.
“Minnesota just whipped us at the line of scrimmage,” said coach Fry. “Nobody is giving up, but we are not that good a team and the coaches take full responsibility for it. I’ve never been associated with a team that couldn’t put points on the scoreboard.”
The Hawkeyes fell to 2-5 and Suess fractured his wrist against the Gophers and was lost for the season.
Pete Gales started at quarterback the following week as the Hawkeyes hosted the Wisconsin Badgers and won, 22-13.
Pete was 9-22 for 161 yards. He threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Keith Chappelle late in the game to clinch the victory.
Defensive tackle Mark Bortz, who was from Wisconsin, recovered a Badger fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.
Iowa traveled to Purdue the next week and for the 20th straight time the Hawkeyes lost.
Quarterback Mark Herman led the Boilermakers to the 58-13 blowout, going 26-34 for 439 yards and three touchdowns.
The 439 yards passing was a Big Ten record... for about 30 minutes. At the same time Purdue was crushing Iowa, Ohio State was beating Illinois, 49-42.
Illinois quarterback Dave Wilson passed for 621 yards against the Buckeyes. That was not only a Big Ten record, but broke the NCAA record.
Mark Herman owned the Hawkeyes. In his four years against Iowa, he threw for 1,118 yards and 12 touchdowns. Mark completed 74 of 121 passes (62 percent) against the Hawks.
Pete Gales, who started at quarterback for Iowa, set Iowa single game records for passing yards (321) and total offense (371) against the Boilermakers.
Also freshman running backs J.C. Love-Jordan and Norm Granger returned eight kickoffs for 263 yards, an average of 36 yards per return.
The Hawkeyes were now 3-6.
A trip to Ohio State was up next and for the 16th time in a row, Iowa lost.
The Buckeyes rolled 41-7 and Iowa rushed for only 49 yards in 39 attempts.
Pete was 9-30 with four interceptions, and the Hawks fell to 3-7.
Iowa finished the season at Michigan State and the Spartans were favored by a touchdown.
Pete Gales threw three touchdown passes and the Hawkeyes won 41-0... Hayden’s first shutout.
The defense, led by All-Big Ten linebacker Andre Tippet with Mark Bortz and John Hardy, helped throw Spartan backs for 93 yards in losses.
Lon Olejniczak, Keith Chappelle and Nate Person caught touchdown passes.
Keith had a great day, catching 10 passes for 148 yards and broke two school season records for the most catches (64) and the most yards (1,037). Karl Noonan set the old record 16 years before with 59 receptions and 933 yards.
Keith also set a Big Ten record with 881 yards in Big Ten play. He led he conference with 51 catches.
Lon Olejniczak also starred, punting four times, returning four punts, catching a touchdown pass and kicking five extra points.
Iowa finished 4-7 but was 4-4 in the Big Ten, the highest conference finish since 1970.
Of course in 1981, the Hawkeyes would shock the world and I consider that season one of the best ever.
I’ll talk about it next year.

Basketball

Meanwhile in basketball, Iowa would make a trip to the Final Four and with a healthy Ronnie Lester, might have won it.
The starting lineup included the Twin Towers Steve Krafcisin (12.3 points per game) and Steve Waite (8.0).
The guards were Kenny Arnold (13.5) and Kevin Boyle (11.8).
Vince Brookins (11.0) was the small forward.
I’ll never forget, I played Vince a game of H.O.R.S.E at the Iowa City Recreation center in 1985.
I made Vince shoot left handed and the game was tied at H.O.R.S. I told Vince he could shoot right handed if he shot a 3-pointer... he did and the game was over.
Iowa finished the 1980 season 23-10, 10-8 in the conference, and that was good enough for fourth place.
They beat Virginia Commonwealth, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Georgetown to get to the Final Four.
Hawk fans will never forget Steve Waite hitting that last-second basket to beat Georgetown, 81-80.
Steve had 15 points in that game and never missed a shot. He was 4-4 from the floor and 7-7 from the free throw line.
Vince led the way with 22 points, with Kevin Boyle and Kenny Arnold scoring 14 and 12 respectively.
The semifinal had Ronnie Lester against All-American Darrell Griffin.
Ronnie scored the first 10 points for Iowa, Darrell the first 12 for Louisville.
Then Ronnie re-injured his knee, Darrell finished with 34 points and the Cardinals won, 80-72.
There was a consolation game that year, and Iowa lost to Purdue, 75-58. Kenny Arnold led the Hawks with 19 points.

Wrestling

In 1980, Iowa won its third-straight NCAA championship in wrestling.
The Hawkeyes had eight All-Americans with Randy Lewis (134) and Ed Banach winning championships.
A pretty good year for Hawkeye sports.
1981 would be even better.