PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: John GriffithRecord: 2-4-1 Audio: Audio Video: Video

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University Archives
1909 Iowa Football Squad

Iowa resumed athletic relations with Iowa State.

A rule change made field goals worth three points.

Iowa's athletic board discussed the entire matter of granting recognition to players and decided that "a captain of a team will receive a sweater distinguished from those which his team mates receive by a star, which will indicate his leadership. The number of years a man has played will be indicated by bars upon the arm of his sweater. Men receiving their 'I's' for the first time will have no choice as to the sweater they receive. This is prescribed by the board. But after the first year an athlete may choose for himself the pattern of jacket, jersey or sweater which is to be given him."

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: Mark CatlinRecord: 2-5-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

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University Archives
1908 Iowa Football Squad

Iowa rooters enjoyed a new diversion at football games in the shape of a four-month-old bear cub named Burch. Taken from the Idaho hills and housed under the newly erected cement bleachers at Iowa Field, Burch took his place near the Iowa bench during all home games in 1908 and 1909. Known as "one of the boys," the bear would occasionally dance for the crowd.

He also traveled with the team, as this story from the November 1908 edition of The Iowa Alumnus indicates: "Iowa's cub bear, 'Burch,' is a feature of every trip the football team takes. While on the way to Missouri, one of the players was exercising the mascot on a depot platform when a passer-by poked the animal in the back with a stick. 'Burch' whirled and wrapped his paws around the man's legs. The fellow thought his time had come and called for help so loudly that the city marshal rushed to the scene and threatened to arrest the entire team unless the mascot was muzzled. The boys, however, finally persuaded the officer that such a course was unnecessary."

Cared for by Jimmie Barry, the much-loved guardian of Iowa Field, Burch met an untimely death by drowning in the Iowa River in March 1910.

October 17

Iowa met Missouri at Columbia and, according to a report in the Hawkeye, "beneath a broiling sun one of the greatest battles in the history of football was fought. The game was decided by a 'fluke' touchdown, but Iowa was clearly superior. Kirk [the quarterback] managed to stay in the game for the first half although he had an iron brace upon his knee and could hardly use his leg."

With a record of 2-5-0 at the end of the season, the Hawkeye noted that "the loss of the games are due to the injuries."

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: Mark CatlinRecord: 3-2-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

November 2


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University Archives
1907 Iowa Football Squad

Following two intercollegiate victories and a win over the alumni, the Hawkeyes faced Wisconsin on home ground. At halftime, Iowa led 5-0. But as the teams squared off to begin the second period, a rabbit appeared at the Wisconsin goal, proceeded to hop the entire length of the field, and exited between the Iowa goal posts. Later, a Badger player followed the cottontail's trail to score a touchdown. Then a wind-blown punt tied the score and a Wisconsin goal made the Badgers victorious.

Though the game was marked by high winds and fumbles, Iowans blamed the miscreant rabbit for their loss. Preparing to meet Illinois the following week, Coach Mark Catlin announced to the team that a rabbit hunt would precede Wednesday's practice.

The men flushed the rabbit from its warren beneath the grandstand and as the hapless animal sped down the hillside, Coach Catlin took aim and fired. Mortally wounded, the rabbit flipped three times, giving a clear indication to Trainer O'Brien that Iowa would succeed in scoring three touchdowns against the Illini. O'Brien hung the animal's carcass on the fence to prophesy the grisly defeat Illinois would meet on Saturday and—in a paradoxical ritual—the players touched the animal's left hind foot for good luck.

A headline in the Thursday edition of the student newspaper proclaimed that "Rabbit Hunt Yesterday Resulted in Death of Hoodoo—Sure Sign of Victory Against Illinois." Perhaps thanks to the mystic power of a martyred cottontail, Iowa did go on to defeat Illinois, 25-12.

November 24

Emotions ran high during Iowa's intrastate contest with Ames. When an Iowa State end named Reppert injured Hawkeye quarterback Chick Kirk, Iowa fans were convinced of foul play. It didn't help that Ames beat Iowa 20-14.

On January 10, 1908, Iowa's Board in Control of Athletics severed all athletic relations with Ames, reportedly because an Ames player had violated eligibility rules.

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: Mark CatlinRecord: 2-3-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

A national brouhaha centered around the brutality of football, as well as what some deemed the inordinate emphasis the game was receiving by the larger universities. Such a furor was raised that President Teddy Roosevelt called upon his own influence to save the sport.

Changes followed. The National Collegiate Athletic Association was formed to provide some control of the game across the country and new rules to govern football were introduced. The length of games was reduced to 60 minutes, the distance to be gained in scrimmage in three downs was increased to ten yards, and the forward pass was legalized, though only one such pass would be admissible during each series of downs.

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: John ChalmersRecord: 8-2-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video


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University Archives
1905 Iowa Football Squad

The Western Conference adopted major changes in its regulations governing football, limiting the number of intercollegiate games to five per season and declaring graduate students ineligible to compete. The new rules also stipulated that no one could play intercollegiate athletics for more than three years and that no training table or training quarters would be permitted. Furthermore, the six-month residence requirement before a player could be eligible was extended to a full year. The conference also recommended that steps be taken "to reduce athletic receipts and expenses."


Where will the notion of a team mascot lead? The 1905 team photo includes a youth named Kent Philip Akerman, identified as the mascot, and a very young boy, Arthur Reddick, identified as the "Pet."

Writing for the Hawkeye yearbook at the end of the season, an unknown author claimed that "the days of good old football are passed. A new game is rapidly evolving. As the game is played now, it is only for a few who are fortunately gifted with powerful physiques. Whether the new game will be a game for everybody, as the changes are indicating, and become so hampered and complicated with rules that the spice and glory are taken out of it, can only be told with experience."

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: John ChalmersRecord: 7-4-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

The field goal was reduced in value from five to four points.

Following the season, the Western Conference adopted the "one semester rule," barring freshmen from athletic participation until they "shall have been a student in the school for at least one semester."

Given the difficulty some schools has in attracting men to the sport, the rule limiting participation seems odd. When the call went out for players to join Iowa's team in September 1904, few men returned to the squad. Writing for The Iowa Alumnus later in the fall, John Chalmers bemoaned the disloyalty of students who failed to return to the glory of the gridiron: "Two had graduated, some had not returned, for reasons best known to themselves, while others had been lured away by artifice, and had gone in search of the golden fleece, and, at the same time, greater fame, until at last, we were almost persuaded that of the thirteen faithful who had been the Aarons and Hurs of Iowa's gridiron glory, all bowed the knee to Baal, save the two who graduated and the faithful four who returned and are doing yeoman service for their alma mater."

In spite of the report in the alumni magazine, new recruits pulled together with the few returning veterans to end the season with a 7-4 record.

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: John ChalmersRecord: 9-2-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

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University Archives
1903 Iowa Football Squad

"The football season of 1903 opened on Iowa Field in a driving rainstorm, with a field covered with mud. In the second game practically the same conditions were present, and the third game was played on a grass field partly in sunshine and partly in rain, so that from the three opening games it was impossible to judge of the merits of the team with any degree of accuracy. But the fourth game was played under ideal conditions for football and in spite of the many predictions that Drake, with her heavy line, would whip Iowa, she was defeated by a goodly score, and so hopes ran high, only to be dashed to the ground the next week, when Iowa was unmercifully beaten by Minnesota. So it was to the end of the season. The playing of the team was erratic in the extreme." — adapted from the 1905 Hawkeye


Coach Alden Knipe resigned his posts at Iowa. In addition to being the football coach and the school's first athletic director, he was also the first director of music at Iowa.

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Coach: Alden KnipeRecord: 5-4-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

Coach Knipe's preseason workouts were considered pretty rigorous. A reporter for the student newspaper seemed to question the wisdom of the regimen, describing it this way: "During the early practice sessions, one of the interesting antics was for the players to lie down on their backs and raise their feet a ridiculously large number of times."

November 8

Michigan stunned Iowa 107-0 in Ann Arbor. Iowa's football fortunes were slipping, the team ended the year with a 5-4-0 record.

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: Alden KnipeRecord: 6-3-0 Audio: Audio Video: Video

Season tickets were sold for $3.

King William, a bird that appears to be a hawk, was included in the 1901 team photo and identified as the mascot.

September 24

Iowa's student newspaper announced that "Hereafter, except on Fridays, football practice will be strictly secret, no one being admitted to the grounds but the players in uniform, the coaches and the managers."

October 26

Iowa's loss to Minnesota (16-0) ended a string of 23 games without defeat.

PHOTO CREDIT: University Archives

Coach: Alden KnipeRecord: 7-0-1 Audio: Audio Video: Video

June 7

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University Archives
1900 Iowa Football Squad

The Board of Regents appointed Knipe Iowa's first athletic director at a salary of $1,500 appropriating the same amount for the improvement of Athletic Park.

October 6

Iowa Athletic Park was dedicated.

Iowa took the field against Coach Amos Alonzo Stagg's famed Chicago Maroons in Chicago, skunking the formidable opponent 17-0, thanks to Coach Knipe's Pennsylvania system of guards or tackles back.

In the stands with 6,000 other fans that day sat the entire Michigan team that Iowa was to confront a week later. But Coach Knipe had a plan. After the Chicago game, he and his Hawkeyes retreated to a resort outside Detroit to prepare for Michigan, learning a repertoire of 75 new plays for the game on November 10. Coaching strategy had become an essential element for victory, especially given the "pony-sized" Iowa team. In 1900, Iowa's starting eleven stood less than 5' 10" and weighed an average of 177 pounds.


The Hawkeyes made history on Bennett Field in Ann Arbor, marching to a 28-5 victory over Michigan. Dubbed "the meteoric team from the prairies," this was just one victory in a year with no defeats. But it was an important one.

A writer for the Detroit Free Press had to mix his metaphors to pay adequate tribute to the Iowa team: "Michigan met them in friendly controversy Saturday. The visitors were a most gentlemanly set of young giants, though anything but gentle when in action. They showed magnificent education and training from the tips of their long scalp locks to the soles of their perniciously active feet. Their brains worked like greased lightning set to clock-work. They were shrewder than a strategy board and could mobilize in less time than is employed in an owl's wink. When they charged it was like a bunch of wing-footed elephants, and when they tackled one of the enemy it was like the embrace of a grizzly. They could kick harder than a gray mule with years of experience, and with the accuracy of a globe-sight rifle. Michigan recognizes that Iowa is setting the pace in the West. So, it's hats off to Iowa.

W.C. Billy Edson remembered the riotous celebration that shook Iowa City when the team returned home, as recorded in Bright's book on the history of Hawkeye football: "The things that happened...that night are written in the books. When our train reached Iowa City..., every person in town was there. A farmer was just driving in with a load of shelled corn. The boys confiscated it and filled their pockets and hats with it. We were thrown up on a Tally Ho that was pulled by students with a rope a block long. There was a bonfire on the field. The boys pulled President MacLean and faculty out of their buggies and carried them in a dance around the fire. The president's hair was singed.

"The fire's heat was so intense that plate glass windows cracked and for a time, it looked as if the flames were threatening an entire block of the business district."

Fortunately, the town was saved, but fan spirit could not be quieted. Few wanted Iowa's glorious romp with victory to end and rumors soon suggested the possibility of a post-season contest. Coach Knipe quickly squelched the talk, saying that "post-season games put athletics on a professional basis."

Nonetheless, it was only a last-minute snafu at the University of California that ultimately stopped the Hawkeyes from boarding a train to California for two contests in that state in December. President MacLean was enthusiastic about the possibility of these games, which he considered "would not be post-season games, but holiday games." He felt that the trip "would be a fine opportunity for the university to advertise itself on the Pacific Coast." So Iowa had to settle for a 7-0-1 record at the end of 1900, posting its second consecutive season without a defeat.