Paint the town pink: Iowa's unusual tactic of messing with its opponents
Some may not see it as a logical connection, but the parallels between Iowa and North Texas run deep. Dan McCarney, North Texas head coach played and coached at Iowa. Mean Green quarterback Andrew McNulty went to high school in Iowa City.
The biggest connection, however, lies with Hayden Fry. The most legendary coach in Iowa history, Fry is a native Texan and coached the school then known as North Texas State University for five seasons. Before Iowa and North Texas kick off in Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City this Saturday, the Mean Green will be preparing for the game in the all-pink visitors locker room.
All-pink means pink everything. Use your imagination—pink lockers, pink walls, pink urinals, pink floors, pink ceilings. Literally everything is pink.
The irony is that this was Fry's tactic. The pink locker room in Kinnick was his doing. Fry earned a Master's degree in psychology as a student at Baylor University, and legend has it he read that pink can have a calming effect on a person.
When he started coaching at Iowa in 1979, he ordered the walls in the visiting room to be pink. During a 2005 update of Kinnick, the toilets, lockers, etc. were added.
By Fry's recollection, the pink had a beneficial effect for his program.
"When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I've got him," Fry wrote in his book, A High Porch. "I can't recall a coach who has stirred up a fuss about the color and then beat us."
According to Fry, former Michigan head coach Bo Schembechler and his staff hated the room. He used to cover the walls during trips to Iowa City with white butcher paper so his players didn't see the pink.
For what it's worth, Schembechler went 2–2–1 against Fry at Kinnick Stadium. Before Iowa hired Fry in '79, Schembechler was 4–0 record at Kinnick.
North Texas's McCarney is no stranger to the pink locker room himself. After leaving Iowa, he became the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez for from 1990-1994, going 0–2 at Kinnick before becoming head coach at Iowa State from 1995-2006. During his tenure with the Cyclones, he went 3–3 in Iowa City.
This will mark his first game back in Kinnick as a head coach since his Cyclone days, and if the predictions hold true—Iowa is currently favored by 24.5 points according to Bovada—that record will fall deeper.
It may not be because of the pink locker room, but if it does affect the game in some way, McCarney will be cursing his former boss.
Danny Payne is SI's campus correspondent at the University of Iowa. Follow him on Twitter.