After 17 straight non-winning seasons, Iowa hired a former Marine from West Texas to get its football program into shape.
That former Marine was Hayden Fry, and after enduring losing seasons in 1979 and 1980, Fry turned the Hawks around in 1981. With an 8-4 record (6-2 in conference), Iowa won the Big Ten and went to its first Rose Bowl in over 20 years. Unfortunately, the Hawks got blanked by Washington 0-28.
For all Fry gave to the Hawkeyes—the Swarm, the pink locker rooms, the Tigerhawk, the black and gold uniforms, a winning attitude—he wasn't a great bowl game coach, and this was especially true in big bowl games.
Fry had an overall bowl record of 6-7-1 and was 0-3 in Rose Bowls.
However, the 1984 Freedom Bowl was a different story.
The Hawks came into the game with a 7-4-1 record. Their opponents, the Texas Longhorns, were 7-3-1.
The Horns were not the force they were under Darrell Royal. In fact, they were nearing the end of the Fred Akers' era. Nevertheless, they were still the Texas Longhorns—a national power.
The game took place under a driving rain, but that didn't stop junior quarterback Chuck Long.
At halftime, the game was close, with the Hawks holding on to a 24-17 lead. Nevertheless, they blew the game open in the third quarter, putting up 31 consecutive points. Long finished 29-of-39 for 461 yards and six touchdowns. Each of the touchdowns was to a different receiver. When the smoke cleared, Iowa won 55-17.
With senior Chuck Long leading the Hawkeyes into 1985, expectations were as high as they had ever been in Iowa City.