The last time the Hawkeyes went to the Rose Bowl, Hayden Fry was coach and Seinfeld was debuting on NBC. Bruce Kittle was co-captain of Hayden Fry's first Rose Bowl team back in 1981-1982, and he says that the enthusiasm from fans, and pre-season notions about the team, are very similar.
"Back then, it was a 19 year gap with a 19 year losing streak. It was my senior year, so people were hopeful, but they weren’t overly optimistic. Hayden had them pretty excited, and we took off. On the way to the Big 10 Title, we beat UCLA. It was a great year, great defense and a great punter. We did just enough on offense to get by, and people were very excited," Kittle remembers.
There's a little something extra special about this Rose Bowl for Kittle - his son, George, is on Kirk Ferentz's roster and was one of two players featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this season. Kittle says he's talked a lot with George about the game, but he doesn't have a lot of advice.
"It’s been a gift, and we’re grateful to have this opportunity. We’ve certainly had conversations, we’re big goal setters and visualizers. But, I’ve never been 12-0, so I don’t know what to tell him at this point. It’s been very fun, but the more attention you get, the harder it gets to focus. I’ve been encouraging them to stay focused," Kittle says.
During this hour of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with Kittle and former wide receiver Danan Hughes, who played on the 1991 Hawkeye Rose Bowl team.
We also hear from Mike and Jeff Riggan, who own the Hawkeye Hauler and transport the team's gear around the country, and from Dave Pittman, an Iowan who has spent the last three decades designing floats for the Parade of Roses.