Phil Haddy waves to the crowd in Kinnick Stadium last Saturday during the Media Wall of Fame induction.
Sept. 21, 2011
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Phil Haddy has lived the good life... a Hawkeye life.
Haddy has attended 23 of Iowa's 25 bowl games. He has worked 38 NCAA men's and women's basketball championships and witnessed 23 NCAA wrestling national titles.
Today, Haddy is one of four media members inducted into the Kinnick Stadium Media Wall of Fame. He is joined in the class by Chuck Schoffner (Associated Press, United Press), Kevin Evans (Waterloo Courier) and John Campbell (KCRG-TV).
The four-member class joins a group of 20 former media members who were recognized in the inaugural class in 2006. The Wall of Fame -- located in the media section of the Paul W. Brechler Press Box -- recognizes individuals who have covered Hawkeye football with integrity, accuracy and fairness over a long period of time.
"I knew just about everyone up there, not all of them, but just about all of them," said Haddy, who served as Iowa's sports information director from 1993-2010 and has been a UI athletic staff member since 1971. "The Gene Claussens, Jim Zabels, Bob Brooks, Ron Gonders, George Wines and Eric Wilsons are all great journalists.
"I am very glad I knew all of the Iowa SIDs in history. To be with them, people I worked with and enjoyed working with, and people like Bob Brooks -- people I loved -- it makes it feel like it was all worthwhile."
Haddy wasn't quite so sure when he made his first road trip with the Hawkeyes on Sept. 18, 1971, to Corvallis, Ore., for a football game against Oregon State.
After the game, Haddy was responsible for standing outside the locker room until the team was ready for the media to enter. While waiting, there was a man trying to get in the locker room to supposedly see his "brother", Dave Harris -- Iowa's running back at the time
"I knew he wasn't Dave Harris' brother because Dave was an African-American, and this guy was Caucasian," said Haddy. "I thought I had gotten rid of him. I turned around to talk to the Iowa media, and we were chuckling about it.
"I turned my head away, and this guy takes his fist, winds up and cold-cocks me right in the face. After losing the game, it became one of the only laughing points of the trip. There were a lot of memorable moments on trips over the years, but nothing quite like that first one."
One of Haddy's most memorable moments in his Hawkeye career came during the 1981 season when Iowa beat Michigan State to earn a berth into the Rose Bowl. Entering the game, Iowa was expected to go to the Liberty Bowl, but after Ohio State beat Michigan, the cards fell into place for a trip to Pasadena.
"About a quarter and a half into that game, we realized things were materializing in the Ohio State-Michigan game," said Haddy. "So if we beat Michigan State, we go to the Rose Bowl.
"With a couple of minutes left in the game and Iowa holding a big lead, UI President James Freedman got on the roof of the old Iowa press box and was throwing roses to the crowd, while the band was playing an impromptu version of "California Here We Come".
"It was a moment when people were cheering, but crying at the same time, because this was Iowa, and we were doing something we weren't supposed to do. Something no one gave us any chance to do."
Looking back, Haddy couldn't see himself working anywhere other than the University of Iowa. He and his wife, Elaine, have, between them, worked at the university for 86 years.
"You don't work somewhere 41 years and not like it," said Haddy, who is the longest-serving SID in the Big Ten Conference and has the third-longest tenure in league history. "It has always been special working here, and I never had a desire to leave. Part of the reason is the people."
Haddy was mentored by Wall of Famer George Wine from 1971-93. He was named the third SID in school history in 1993 by former director of athletics Bump Elliott. He worked with two football coaches -- Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz -- since 1979, something that is rare in college football.
"I worked with some absolutely wonderful coaches, athletes and presidents," said Haddy, who received the 2001 Elmer "Scoop" Hudgens Lifetime SID Award from the All-America Football Foundation. "I have a special fondness for "my president" and that would be Sandy Boyd. Bump Elliott is "my AD", and Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz are the greatest football coaches any SID could ever work for. The same goes for working with Dan Gable, Tom Davis and Duane Banks.
"That's why I always say how lucky can one SID be, working with a group like that? I've got to be without question one of the luckiest SIDs ever -- three Rose Bowls, two Orange Bowls, a men's Final Four, 23 NCAA wrestling titles, and I've been the voice of Iowa wrestling for over 40 years."
In the final season before rounding out his two-year phased retirement plan, Haddy is reflecting on the past, while looking toward the future.
"It's been kind of a non-stop situation for 40 years, so I am going to have to learn to relax," he said. "I have a lot of things to fill my time --my wife, Elaine, my two kids -- Jason and Jamie (Powers) -- and four absolutely wonderful grandchildren -- Nick and William Haddy and Evelyn and Marty Powers.
"The stuff I will fill it with will also include Hawkeye athletics. I am a lifelong Hawkeye, and I will always be."