While there’s no Iowa NFL Team, there is a strong sports culture in the Hawkeye state, with college sports, especially college football and basketball.
Talking about the Hawkeyes, from the University of Iowa football team, is talking about the homeland of several football players of American sports history.
Even though the Hawkeyes have never been named national champions of the NCAA or ended up in first place in the ranking, many names in their trajectory have made history in the field.
The Hawkeyes compete in the West Division of the Big Ten Conference and have won the conference on thirteen different occasions, first in 1986 and, more recently, in the 2021 season. Kirk Ferentz has coached them for more than 20 seasons and was responsible for taking the team to the top in 2004 and 2015. and are on the lookout for winning again in the current 2023 season.
The team has been at the top since 1999, when Ferentz started coaching it. He has contributed to the Hawkeyes’ rising three consecutive times, from 2002 to 2004, and their appearances in 19 bowls during his 21 seasons, an impressive record for the team.
With a winning record 18-16-1, the Hawkeyes have competed in 35 bowls since 1981.
The team was honored to attend the Music City Bowl in 2020, though the edition of that year was suspended due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Their games are usually played at the Kinnick Stadium, named after Nile Kinnick, one of the pioneers of the Hawkeyes, Heisman winner, and part of the College Football Hall Of Fame since 1972.
The University of Iowa’s last victory was in the 2022 Music City Bowl when they won against Kentucky with a score of 21-0. The Hawkeyes beat up a few known opponents, like Iowa State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.
It’s important to bring out Iowa’s impact on sports through the Hawkeyes. Twenty-nine different former players have been considered for the All-Americans, an honor that’s given to the best athletes in amateur leagues in the U.S. Still, two players stand out from the rest, Carl Jones and Larry Station, as they were considered twice for the title.
It’s almost impossible to talk about the Hawkeyes without mentioning stand-out players, like Emlen “The Gremlin “Lewis Tunnell, who started his career at the University of Iowa before being drafted as a defensive back for the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers.
Other remarkable players are Safety Paul Krause, who made an impact in the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins, Andre Tippet, best known for his role as inside linebacker in the New England Patriots, Alex Karras, the defensive tackle of the Detroit Lions, and, of course, the tackle of the Milwaukee Badgers, Rock Island Independents and Chicago Cardinals, Duke Slater.
These are some of the players who have made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and made an impact on the Hawkeyes.
Leaving A Mark In The Pros
If you consider the impact the Hawkeyes have made on the NFL, you’ll have to consider the fact that the team has contributed at least one member to the NFL Draft from 1978 until 2020. This streak was interrupted in 2021 but resumed in 2022 and 2023.
In total, there have been 294 picks: 254 picked by the NFL, 21 in the ALF, and seven in the AAFC. Of these, 83 have been chosen in the three first rounds, while 26 were selected in the first round.
Though we have talked mainly about football so far, the University of Iowa has exceptional performances in other disciplines, such as wrestling, basketball, baseball, and others.
Meanwhile, the men’s wrestling program of the University of Iowa might be the most standing team of this college.
Currently coached by former Iowa wrestler Tom Brands for 18 seasons, the Hawkeyes have participated in 24 national championships and 37 Big Ten Conference championships, and they are currently number two in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
They Also Hoop
The basketball team also deserves an honorable mention since they coached different All-American nominees and winners, including Luka Garza in 2020 and 2021 and Keegan Murray in 2022. Still, Murray Wier and Charles Darling also received the title in 1948 and 1952, respectively. The female basketball division also participated in various NCAA tournaments, such as the Elite Eight and the Sweet Sixteen.
As for the women’s field hockey team, coached by Lisa Cellucci since 2014, former Hawkeye and All-American nominee, they have also received different awards representing the Hawkeyes team.
The University of Iowa has won sixteen conference titles, thirteen of which from the Big Ten Conference, and it has been the home of several Olympians, including Barb Weinberg, Beth Beglin, Patty Shea, and others.