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Back at Kinnick, where he hoped to coach Iowa, Terry Allen will 'think of my dad'

[ 0 ] September 3, 2013 |
TerryAllen

Coach Terry Allen of Missouri State. (USA Today Sports photo)

IOWA CITY, Ia. – Five-year-old Terry Allen knew his parents had an extra ticket to the Iowa football game that fall weekend. So he got busy.

“I went out and raked the yard,” Allen said. “My dad said, “Oh, let’s take him.’ ”

That was the first of many trips to Kinnick Stadium for Allen, who returns to his hometown Saturday when his Missouri State team faces the Hawkeyes. Kinnick Stadium is where he fell in love with college football.

“Section E, row 25, seat 4,” Allen said.

Allen’s father, Bob, lettered in football and swimming at Iowa, and Nile Kinnick was his fraternity brother. Later, Bob was a defensive line coach under Forest Evashevski.

“Coached some guy named Alex Karras,” Allen said.

Bob was also Iowa’s head swimming coach for 16 years.

“My mom took me to my first Rose Bowl (1957) in the womb,” Allen said. “I was born to be a Hawkeye.”

Now in his eighth season with the Bears, Allen returns to Kinnick Stadium with a third different school. He faced the Hawkeyes in 1995 as the head coach at Northern Iowa, and was there in 2002 and 2004 as an assistant at Iowa State.

Allen also interviewed for the Iowa job when Hayden Fry retired after the 1998 season. Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby, now the commissioner of the Big 12 Conference, hired Kirk Ferentz instead.

“Obviously, the decision he made was the best one,” Allen said.

Bowlsby first met Allen, a star quarterback at Iowa City West and Northern Iowa, in the late 1970s. Bowlsby was at Iowa working on his master’s degree. Allen, in college, returned to Iowa City during the summers.

“We actually played on a softball team together,” Bowlsby said. “That’s when we first became friends.”

Bowlsby was 32 when he became Northern Iowa’s athletic director in 1984, and their bond grew. When he needed a head football coach to replace Earle Bruce in 1989, Bowlsby promoted Allen from the Panther staff.

“I interviewed for the job the day my dad passed away,” Allen said. “I talked to dad after the interview and told him I thought it had gone really well. I got a call that night that he had passed away (from a heart attack), and I headed for Iowa City. On my way Bob calls and says, ‘Oh, by the way, you got the job.’

Allen coached the Panthers to a 75-26 record, winning or sharing seven consecutive conference titles and reaching the national semifinals twice. That got him the job at Kansas in 1997. After his second season there, Iowa’s job came open. Allen was on Bowlsby’s short list.

“I knew him very well and I knew what a good coach he was,” Bowlsby said. “He was someone I had a high level of comfort with. And I felt like he would have been a good fit.”

Former Iowa quarterback Chuck Long, then a Hawkeye assistant, was the first person interviewed by a seven-member screening committee. Allen second in line. Don Patterson, Iowa’s offensive coordinator, and former Iowa player Bob Stoops, then Florida’s defensive coordinator, followed.

The Daily Oklahoman would later report that Stoops had accepted Oklahoma’s offer the night before he interviewed with Iowa, on Nov. 30, 1998. Ferentz interviewed the next day and was named Iowa’s coach on Dec. 2, 1998.

“I think there will always be people that think I made a terrible mistake,” Bowlsby said. “I did what I thought was the honor-bound thing to do, and that is I promised Kirk Ferentz an opportunity to interview for the job. I had to wait 48 hours to do that, and Bob wasn’t able to wait. I don’t fault him for that.”

When Bowlsby told Allen he had gone in a different direction and picked Ferentz, it wasn’t an easy phone call to make.

“On a personal level, it was hard,” Bowlsby said. “On a professional level, I was making what I thought was the right decision for the university.”

Kansas fired Allen after the 2001 season. Then he joined another Iowa City native, Dan McCarney, at Iowa State for four seasons before taking over the Missouri State program in December 2005. On Saturday, he returns to his roots.
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“Going back (to Kinnick Stadium) will make me think of my dad,” Allen said.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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