Feb. 11, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — A little coaxing from Hayden Fry in 1978 lured Carl Jackson from the state of Texas to the University of Iowa. Three decades later — with 22 of those years as a Hawkeye coach — Jackson is retiring from football.
Jackson, 67, along with Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz, announced the decision Monday at a press conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
“Carl is the best running backs coach that I have ever been around at any level,” Ferentz said. “More importantly, he’s been a mentor for me and he’s been a great, great friend. If you look through Carl’s resume, what you see is a demonstration of excellence.”
Jackson began his collegiate coaching career with Fry at North Texas is 1976. He was there until joining Iowa from 1979-91 as running backs coach and offensive coordinator. From 1992-96, Jackson coached running backs for the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL (where he was part of a Super Bowl championship). Jackson was running backs coach at the University of Texas in 1997 and rejoined the staff at Iowa from 1999-2007.
“I remember being in a staff meeting at North Texas and Coach Fry said he had a chance to come to the University of Iowa,” Jackson said. “He said, `If I go, who will all go with me?’ and everybody held their hand up but me. So I said, `I don’t know anything about Iowa and I don’t know anybody to call and ask about Iowa.’ But coming here was probably the best decision I ever made in my life.”
Jackson spent 22 seasons on the UI football staff and was a part of five Big Ten Champion Hawkeye teams, three of which went to the Rose Bowl (1982, ’86, ’91). He is the only coach in school history to be part of five conference championships. During his career, Jackson instructed a who’s who of Iowa running stars, including Ronnie Harmon, Rick Bayless, Dennis Mosley, Nick Bell, Tony Stewart, Ladell Betts and most recently Albert Young and Damian Sims.
“We’ve had a lot of really, really good guys come through here,” Jackson said. “I’ve had a chance to work with a lot of great players. I tried not to over-coach them.”
Twelve running backs that Jackson coached went on to the NFL. While at Iowa, Jackson coached nine of the 11 Hawkeyes that rushed for 1,000 or more yards in a season.
“It’s pretty obvious I like Iowa,” Jackson said. “I came back for a second tour of duty. I really enjoyed myself here. I met a lot of great people, worked with a lot of great coaches and had a chance to work with a lot of great young men.”
Four of the games Jackson remembers most were a 36-7 win against Michigan State on Nov. 21, 1981, that sent the Hawkeyes to the Rose Bowl; a 12-10 win against Michigan on Oct. 19, 1985; a 30-25 victory over LSU in the Capitol One Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005; and a 20-10 win at Wisconsin on Nov. 12, 2005.
“There are a lot of great memories and a lot of satisfying victories,” Jackson said.
One of the most rewarding accomplishments for Jackson was the personal growth of former Hawkeye player Richard Bass (1986-89). Bass was from Omaha, Neb., and was not an accomplished student when he enrolled at Iowa. Jackson said it was “very satisfying” when he heard the news that Bass had received his PhD.
“He took advantage of the system and never missed a learning center or study hall,” Jackson said.
Jackson and his wife, Doris, have two grown children and two grandchildren.
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