Historical Video: SMU Fires Head Coach Hayden Fry in 1972

In the early 1970s, Hayden Fry was one of college football's rising coaching stars. The West Texas native and Baylor product established a name for himself as the offensive backfield coach for Frank Broyle's 1961 Arkansas squad. SMU saw something special in the young coach and snapped him up to lead their team a year later.

Fry later stated he accepted the job in Dallas on the condition he could recruit black athletes. Jerry LeVais became the second black player for a Southwest Conference team in 1966. SMU would go on to claim the conference championship that season and LeVais was would be named to the all-conference team three years running. Despite the success, LeVais and Fry both received hate mail and threats throughout the player's tenure on the team.

In 1972, after a string of mediocre years, SMU fired Fry at the end of the season. As the interview above shows, Fry was deeply disappointed by the decision. In his autobiography, he alleged that boosters wanting to launch a slush fund to buy players forced him out. Fry's final record over 11 seasons at SMU was 49–66–1.

Fry relocated to Denton to lead the North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) football program. The Mean Green had won just seven games over three seasons prior to his arrival and would earn a a 40-23 record under his guidance. In 1975, UNT stunned the University of Houston and the University of Tennessee in road victories.

Fry then left Texas in 1979 to take over the University of Iowa program that had not had a winning season in almost two decades. Over the next 20 seasons, the Hawkeyes earned three Big 10 championships and 14 bowl berths. Fry stepped down as head coach in 1998 with a final record at the school of 143-89-6.

Fry was inducted into the College Football Hall of fame in 2003.

These videos are part of SMU's G. William Jones Film And Video Archive. The archive is in the process of digitizing and uploading historical news items from WFAA-TV in Dallas onto YouTube.


"Hayden Fry joins College Football Hall of Fame," Hawykeye Sports, Aug. 14, 2014

Fry, Hayden, et al. Hayden Fry: A High Porch Picnic. Sports Publishing LLC, 2001.

Harvey, Randy, "Integrating SWC took heavy toll on LeVias." Houston Chronicle, Aug. 21, 2013.

Hlas, Mike, "After 43 years, Hayden Fry and SMU reconcile." The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, May, 5, 2015.

Lay, Robert, "Hayden Fry, North Texas head football coach and athletic director, 1972–1978," University of North Texas Libraries, Jan. 19, 2016.

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