Success stories show varied routes to victory

Hayden Fry believed so strongly that it takes a university village to run a successful college football program that he would not consider accepting a job offer unless he had complete support, including the school president’s.

He found such backing at seemingly hopeless places: Southern Methodist, North Texas State and Iowa. It was at that final stop where Fry would make his mark as the Hawkeyes became a power.

Until Fry made his way to Iowa City in 1979, the Hawkeyes were just about everyone else’s sure victory as they suffered 17 consecutive seasons without a winning record. But in 20 years under Fry, they amassed 13 winning seasons, 14 bowl appearances with six victories, and at least a share of three Big Ten Conference championships.

“The administration, with the president down to the faculty and athletic administration, must commit to an outstanding program,” Fry said. “Once the top people committed and realized the value, they were all for it.”

Fry was so certain it took more than innovative game-day strategy and exhaustive practices for players to turn a longtime loser into a winner that he overhauled just about every part of the program.

He created Tigerhawk, a marketing company that distributed Iowa memorabilia, and reached an agreement with all 62 J.C. Penney Co. stores in the state to carry the merchandise. Fry also asked permission of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who also wear black and gold, for Iowa to redesign its uniforms to closely match the best team of the 1970s.

“You have to change the image,” Fry said. “You change the color of the uniforms because you don’t want people looking at the same team that had been getting their butt kicked. You change the logo. You change the way you come on and off the field.”

Fry demonstrated that winners can be created just about anywhere.

Greg Schiano proved that at Rutgers. In 2005, he led the Scarlet Knights to their first winning season (7-5) since 1992 and first bowl appearance since 1978. Then last year, he became the first coach to direct the school to back-to-back bowl berths: a 37-10 victory over Kansas State in the Texas Bowl capping an 11-2 season.

Whether Schiano can sustain such success at a place that is still a newborn to the national spotlight is the question. The ultimate turnarounds have stood the test of time.

Though most fans remember only the long period of domination, Florida State is one of those turnarounds. Before Bobby Bowden took over in 1976, the Seminoles won four games during the three previous seasons, going 0-11 in 1973.

Bowden coached Florida State to 14 consecutive top-five rankings, recorded 11 straight bowl victories and two national titles.

Down state in Miami, a similar awakening occurred. The Hurricanes had only two winning seasons in the 1970s. Then Howard Schnellenberger took control in 1979.

He turned the Hurricanes into national champions in 1983, the beginning to a dominant era that included four more titles under three other coaches. The last championship came in 2001 under Larry Coker.

Texas A&M’s Dennis Franchione has a reputation as a program-changer.

Franchione took over New Mexico, which is now in the Mountain West Conference, before the 1992 season.

Before his arrival, the Lobos had won nine games during five seasons, and even went 0-11 in 1987. In Franchione’s second season, New Mexico posted its first winning record (6-5) in 11 years. In 1997, the Lobos went 9-4 and won the Mountain Division of the Western Athletic Conference.

Franchione continued on to Texas Christian, now also in the Mountain West, as well as Alabama and Texas A&M.

TCU was 1-10 in 1997 the year before he came onboard, and two years later became WAC co-champions and then repeated the following season. Even tradition-rich Alabama was coming off a 3-8 record in 2000 when Franchione assumed control. The Crimson Tide went 7-5 in his first season and 10-3 in his second.

Texas A&M, already a moderately successful program, hasn’t been quite as pleasant of an experience for Franchione, but he finished 9-4 last season for his best record in four seasons there.

“I’ve taken over a number of programs that have been down,” Franchione said. “Lack of discipline, lack of accountability, lack of work ethic generally happen where you need a turnaround. These things play into how you recruit players who will last and stay four years.”

The search for quality recruits took New Mexico’s coaches to such faraway locations as Lovington, N.M. There, they came upon a player missing from the other schools’ recruiting lists, but one who seemed promising nonetheless. Now, Brian Urlacher plays for the Chicago Bears and is one of the NFL’s fiercest linebackers.

“People always say recruiting is the key,” Franchione said. “But I’ve always said evaluating is the key.”

While Franchione is known for finding ways to win quickly, other coaches have required more time. Schiano’s first winning record came in his fifth season. Former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney opened his stint with five losing seasons in a row before going on a run of five bowl appearances in six years.

And Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe stood on the sidelines for three successive losing seasons, and five years overall, before last year’s 11-3 record, Atlantic Coast Conference championship and trip to the Orange Bowl.

Grobe said he did not believe in the “quick fix” of signing junior college transfers or going after top high school players with questionable backgrounds.

“If you don’t recruit the right kind of kid and the right character, he’s going to do something stupid and get kicked out of school,” Grobe said. “If he doesn’t have the academics, he’s going to flunk out of school.

“If you get a good football player who’s a good kid, he could turn out to be a great football player.”

Coaches, Grobe said, need a clear understanding of where a program stands when they walk into the football office. He went to Wake Forest knowing that winning the ACC would take time and patience.

Fortunately for Grobe, athletic director Ron Wellman possessed the same understanding about reaching the top of the league.

“We’d love to have done that our first year, but that wasn’t realistic,” Grobe said. “We understood it wasn’t going to happen overnight.”

Water leak at Mandalay Bay convention center
The convention center area of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas experienced major flooding Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Melinda Cook
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like