Sept. 20, 2004
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There are only a few people who can adequately remember Kinnick Stadium’s dedication game, where the Hawkeyes played Illinois to a 7-7 tie and the incomplete landscaping turned into a mudslide in the heavy October rain.
Pat Dreibilbis, an 86-year-old Hawkeye fan from Cedar Rapids, is one of those few people who actually attended Homecoming ’29.
Dreibilbis inherited his love of the Hawks from his father.
“I don’t understand why my father, a farmer in Jones County, had an interest in Iowa football,” he said, “but he did.”
“I lived in Jones County and lived on a farm there,” Dreibilbis, who was 11-years-old at the time, said. “We took mud roads to Mount Vernon in a 1926 Essex, and you don’t see too many of those out on the street today.
“I probably wouldn’t even know what one looks like if I did.”
The game started at 2 p.m. on Oct. 19, 1929, and the knothole seat in the far from sold out stadium cost 25 cents, which would be about $3 in today’s money. A similar youth ticket today would cost $18.
Only two sides of the stadium had been built, and grass hills bowled in the two ends on the north and south. When the skies opened up that afternoon, there was nothing but mud encircling the new stadium.
“That whole top of the hill was nothing but mud,” Dreibilbis recalls. “I remember walking through that. I didn’t have a raincoat and so my overcoat was so heavy I could barely walk.”
And while a lot has changed, nothing has changed as much as the players themselves, Dreibilbis says.
“The players are bigger, better conditioned and just better athletes,” he said. “Nile Kinnick was a fine athlete, but he was probably 160 pounds and 5-10. He was a tremendous athlete, but you have a 6-foot-4 player who weighs 210 pounds and can do everything today.
“That’s what’s changed the most – the quality of the participants.”
Dreibilbis still remembers the first play of the game, though, when Willis “Bill” Glassgow scored on the first scrimmage of the game.
Iowa couldn’t put anything else together in the matchup, and it ended in the cold and dark about three hours later, when the spectators could barely make out the players on the field.
“We got back home at about 9 o’clock, and I still had to milk the cows.”
The close of the game meant the start of the hours-long ride back to the family farm for Dreibilbis.
What takes less than 30 minutes today on Highway 1 was a true journey through the dirt roads and back ways of 1929.
“We got back home at about 9 o’clock, and I still had to milk the cows,” Dreibilbis said.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com