Combined, Lisa Bluder and Kirk Ferentz have coached at Iowa for nearly 49 seasons. Oh how blessed we've been. Let's look back at two careers that, hopefully, are nowhere near over.

In November of 1998, Hayden Fry announced his retirement after 20 years as Iowa football coach. He made us all cry that day when he said "I'll always be a Hawk".

Fry won 143 games, lost 89, and tied 6 others at Iowa. It was a winning percentage of .613. Only Alden Knipe (.771 from 1899 to 1902), John Chalmers (.750 from 1903 to 1905), and Forest Evashevski (.651 fom 1952 to 1960), had higher winning percentages in the 100 years of Iowa football leading up to that time.

Needless to say, Iowa fans were nervous when they looked back on the winning percentages of Iowa's four coaches between Fry and Evashevski. They had been .309 (Bob Commings), .136 (Frank Lauterbur), .340 (Ray Nagel), and .378 (Jerry Burns).

On December 2, 1998, Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby named Kirk Ferentz as Iowa's new head coach. Bowlsby said that day, "He's a great fit for Iowa, there isn't any other way to put it." He couldn't have been more right.

*The first 1:39 of the video below is from that introductory press conference.

In Ferentz's third season (2001, photo below), Iowa won the Alamo Bowl. The only two years Iowa hasn't been selected to play in a bowl game since were in 2007 (6-6) and 2012 (4-8). The 2020 Music City Bowl was canceled due to COVID.

Michigan State v Iowa
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The 2023 Hawkeyes went 7-2 in Big Ten play, giving Ferentz 122 conference victories. That's second only to Woody Hayes (153 in 28 years at Ohio State) and Bo Schembechler (143 in 21 years at Michigan) in Big Ten history.

Going into Saturday night's Big Ten Championship game, Kirk Ferentz's winning percentage at Iowa stands at .626. Last month, he was named one of 20 finalists for the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year. He won the award in 2015, the same year he won the last of his four Big Ten Coach of the Year awards. He also claimed that award in 2002, 2004, and 2009. I think he should win the Big Ten award for the fifth time this season.

No one could have known on December 2, 1998 that Kirk Ferentz would be Iowa's football coach for 25 years. I hope there's more to come.

Another perfect fit for Iowa was announced in the spring of 2000. Seventeen years earlier, Dr. Christine Grant hired C. Vivian Stringer to lead an Iowa program that was just two years old. She took the program to an amazing 269 victories in 12 seasons.

In 2000, when Angie Lee stepped down after five seasons, Grant called on Lisa Bluder. She had averaged more than 23 wins during her eight seasons at Drake. Just listen to how Dr. Grant described Bluder when she announced her as Iowa's new coach on April 7, 2000.

After Sunday night's win over Kansas State, Bluder has led Iowa to 501 victories and just 250 defeats, a .667 winning percentage, in 23+ seasons at Iowa. Under her tutelage, Iowa has played in 17 NCAA tournaments, including last year's NCAA championship game.

Crossover at Kinnick: Iowa Women's Basketball
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Thank you, Kirk Ferentz and Lisa Bluder. Not just for the excitement and absolute joy you've given us over the years, but for always doing it the right way. While winning isn't everything, cheering for teams led by great people that win just might be. We're so glad you both chose Iowa.

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