How do you decide which sports stories are worth re-telling?
Bill Friedman, a coordinating producer for Big Ten Network, offered a simple litmus test, and explained why Iowa’s 1985 football team passed with ease.
“I think what we look for is, you want to pick a team where a fan would say, ‘Of course I remember. That was the Chuck Long, Ronnie Harmon, Larry Station team,’ ” Friedman said. “Where it almost rolls off the tongue.”
Friedman oversaw production on Big Ten Elite: 1985 Iowa football, a documentary which will debut Saturday at 3 p.m on BTN.
It’s a must-see for any Hawkeye follower, even if you think you know everything about this season for the ages.
The show features interviews with longtime athletic director Bump Elliott and more than a half dozen former players.
But let’s not kid ourselves: Hayden Fry is the catalyst.
“I thought one of the real strengths of this documentary was our interview with coach Fry,” Friedman said. “He’s such an important figure on this team and the program in general… Just to have him be part of the project was a real thrill for us.
“I also feel he has a way of telling stories that is really engaging for the viewer. Kind of keeps you on the edge of your seat.”
Bob Stoops, an assistant coach on the ’85 team and current head man at Oklahoma, shares his thoughts, as well as BTN’s Tom Dienhart and current Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz.
“They’re all stars of the show,” Friedman said, “but (Fry) might have been the brightest one.”
Viewers are taken back to Iowa’s struggles in the 1970s and the hiring of Fry, who assembled a staff that included future coaching luminaries Bill Snyder and Barry Alvarez.
Long, an all-America quarterback, recounts his recruitment and decision to return for his senior year with the Hawkeyes.
Some of the stories take you on a familiar nostalgia trip, flashing back to a heart-stopping win over Michigan a spirit-crushing loss at Ohio State as well as the Hawkeyes’ elevation to No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
But there are some twists Hawkeye fans may not see coming:
–Fry tells how he threatened to leave Iowa if a new indoor practice facility was not built.
–Kicker Rob Houghtlin was cut from the team but given a second chance after he won an intramural competition.
–Station, a linebacker, details the injuries he endured throughout the season.
A Rose Bowl detail is also revealed, how UCLA mimicked a cut-back rushing scheme that had been successful for Michigan State earlier in the season.
“I think that’s one of the goals we want to try and (meet) in these shows,” Friedman said. “Look, everybody knows the final scores of the games and how they got to that point.
“But we want to put other things out there that maybe they’ve forgotten or didn’t know.”
Big Ten Network will air the one-hour documentary “Big Ten Elite: 1985 Iowa football” at the following (Iowa) times:
Saturday — 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m.
Sunday — 6 p.m.
Tuesday — 9 p.m.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football