Hayden Fry's Coaching Legacy Impacts Two Building Programs

Randy ChristianCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2008

A long time ago, a lanky good-looking fella from Odessa, Texas, wandered into the Park Cities area of affluent north Dallas and shook things up.

In 1962, coach Hayden Fry unveiled seemingly a five-year plan that would transform the SMU Mustangs back into football greats—a greatness that was shared by such legends as Doak Walker, Forrest Greg, and Raymond Berry.

As if on cue, the 1966 season proved out Fry's patience.  The Mustangs went 8-3 in a tough Southwest Conference while setting offensive records, thanks to players like Chuck Hixson (QB) and receiver Jerry Levias, the second Afro-American player to take the field in the Southwest Conference.

Years later, both Fry and Levias would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame...together.


A five-year plan...hmm?

In Mesquite, Nevada, a retired and healthy Hayden Fry lives the good life with his wife Shirley.  After a long and tough battle against prostrate cancer, Fry has allowed himself to be thankful and knows what the word "fortunate" entails.

Out of coaching 10 years now, Fry is nothing short of a miracle.  In his first 69 years on earth, Coach Fry made and fulfilled countless promises to schools, colleges, and most of all, players and parents.

Even now, retired and out of coaching at Iowa, Hayden spends untold hours and days helping those stricken with the same demon that he beat recently—prostrate cancer.  His contribution alone in this scope is a story all to itself.


A five-year plan...maybe?

If there was a market that took investments on the "college football futures," I have this "hoodoo voodoo" plan that transcends logic and good sense.  My thinking is based on a retired super coach and a pair of coaches who both got to their present locations as fast as they could!

If this lanky, good-looking West Texan could inspire both of these young coaches, it would only seem like the closure of a great circle.

For the record, my "college football futures" money goes towards Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas.

You see, the coach with a common denominator is our aforementioned Hayden Fry.  Yep, he coached at North Texas also, but by his fourth season there, his Eagles went 10-1!


A five-year plan...it's in the bank!

At SMU, enter new coach June Jones.  Inked to a contract at two million dollars a year, Coach Jones inherits a state of the art on-campus football stadium, a very active and passionate alumni, and a deal with AD Steve Orsini that mentions a "five-year plan."

Jones is represented legally by agent Leigh Steinberg and apparently has Orsini's attention.  Last week, Orsini said "no" to a deal which would have made him the AD at...Notre Dame.

Entering his second year at North Texas, Todd Dodge has had an influence on his Mean Green's 2008 schedule.  After going 2-10 in '07, Dodge has decided to face Kansas St on the road, Tulsa at home, and a pretty good team from Baton Rouge by the name of LSU...on the road.

Look for a vastly improved offense this year, but keep an eye on 2010 and 2011.  A new multi-million stadium is on the horizon, and recruiting is on the upswing.  Todd Dodge knows that a tough schedule now translates into better players signing that dotted line in spring.


What would Hayden Fry think?  Now in full retirement, he has time to watch his Mustangs, Mean Green Eagles, and Hawkeyes.  One master, and two building programs not 30 miles apart.

Check the AP poll in 2011.  I will be busy counting my "college football futures" money!