IOWA CITY– Bob Commings and Lute Olsen were in their second years of coaching football and basketball at Iowa, I was in my second year of being a student football manager for the Hawkeyes and football tickets were $7 (they are $50 now!) for football games.
Dan Gable was in his fourth year as assistant wrestling coach and Iowa women’s basketball was in its second year of existence.
Gerald Ford was president, the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl and Archie Griffin won his second Heisman.
Cincinnati won the World Series and Golden State won the NBA title.
Oklahoma finished 11-1 to sit on top of the college football world and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by Elton John was on top of the record charts.
The top movies were “Jaws” and “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” starring Jack Nicholson.
I remember seeing “Jaws” in a theater on a Saturday afternoon and then going swimming at the Moville sandpit called “Midway Park” that night – a little spooky.
Last week I talked about the Hawkeyes opening the season with five straight losses (Illinois, Syracuse, Penn State, USC and Ohio State).
Iowa was on a nine-game losing streak and while they were traveling to Indiana to play the Hoosiers, I was road tripping to Brookings, S.D. with my roommate Rick Long.
Two of my high school homeboys, Jerry Steffen and Kim Clark, were going to South Dakota State in Brookings and it was Hobo Days. South Dakota State played South Dakota University in football and let the good times roll.
Iowa finally got in the win column, thanks to 202 yards rushing by Jim Jensen in the Hawkeyes' 20-10 win.
Jim scored on runs of 56 and 76 yards and his 202 yards rushing was the second best ever for a Hawkeye at that time.
Ed Podolak held the record with 286 yards on the ground.
Iowa still went 0-9 in passing that day.
The Hawks hosted Minnesota in a battle for Floyd the next week, led 14-0, got beat 31-14 and were 2-12 through the air.
Tony Dungy, future Super Bowl winning coach, was the Gophers quarterback.
I went to the game at Evanston the following week with a couple of friends from Chicago and was still in the parking lot when Dave Schick returned the opening kick 97 yards for a touchdown.
Iowa trailed 21-17 with 40 seconds left when Butch Caldwell hit Billy Schultz for a TD and a 24-21 victory. That was only the second pass Butch completed that day.
The Hawks made it two in a row, the first two-game winning streak in six years, with an impressive 45-28 win over Wisconsin the next week in Kinnick.
You want some offense? How about 502 total yards?
You want a great running game? Four-hundred thirty-nine yards on the ground, which was the most ever by a Hawkeye team against a Big Ten foe to that point.
Mark Fetter gained 118 yards on the ground while Butch Caldwell had 82, Dave Schick 63, Jim Jensen 59 and Ed Donavan 59.
Butch passed only five times with two completions.
A trip to Purdue was up next and heartbreak hotel came knocking with a 19-18 loss.
Purdue trailed 18-12 and had the ball on the Iowa 2-yard line with five seconds left.
Purdue halfback Scott Dierking jumped over the line and was knocked back by the Hawkeye defense.
It appeared Iowa was going to break the Boilermakers 14-game winning streak but head linesman Art White signaled a touchdown and the Hawks lost their 15th straight to Purdue.
Iowa ended its season with a 27-23 loss to Michigan State.
Mark Fetter had a 42-yard TD run and Dave Schick scored on a 55-yard scamper but the Spartans handed the Hawks their eighth loss of the season.
I was on the sideline for every home game and one away game but I am still amazed with some of the season stats.
Tom McLaughlin completed only 26 percent of his passes for 358 yards while Butch Caldwell had a 27 percent completion for 239 yards.
According to Al Grady’s book, “25 Years with the Fighting Hawkeyes,” that may have been the worst season in history for Iowa passing in the modern era.
Over in the old Fieldhouse, coach Lute Olsen was leading the Hawkeye basketball team to its first winning season in three years.
Iowa went 19-9 in the '75-'76 season and was 9-9 in the Big Ten.
Starters included Scott Thompson who led the team with 19.5 ppg., Bruce ‘Sky’ King (18.6), Dan Frost (17.1), Fred Haberecht (6.1) and Cal Wulfsberg (5.2).
Top reserves include Matt Gatens’ dad Mike, Archie Mays and Dick Peth.
Iowa opened the season with nine straight wins including victories over Iowa State and Drake. They didn’t play UNI that year.
During the Big Ten season they had a five game winning streak followed by a four game losing skid.
Also at the Fieldhouse, the Hawkeye wrestlers picked up their third straight Big Ten Championship and second consecutive NCAA title.
Iowa had seven all Americans that year including three National Champs. You become an all American when you finish in the top eight of your weight class.
Tim Cysewski (third, 134), Dan Wagemann (second, 167) Bud Palmer (third, 190), and Doug Benschoter (fifth, Hwt.) came in as all Americans.
Chris Campbell (first, 177), Brad Smith (first, 142) and Chuck Yagla (first, 150) were crowned champions. That was Chuck’s second straight championship and he was named the meet’s outstanding wrestler.
I went to a lot of those matches at the Fieldhouse and it was electric, plus I had a class with Dan Wagemann and got to know him.
Being a student and a football manager in 1974 and 1975 were some really great times and I made a lot of lifelong friends.
I’ve been covering the Hawkeyes for the last eight years and it’s not quite the same but it’s close.
Being down on the field at Kinnick or taking pictures at Carver is a lot of enjoyment for a lifetime Hawkeye fan.
Once again I'd like to thank the late Al Grady for his book, \25 Years with the Fighting Hawkeyes.\ I couldn't have done it without you big Al.