A Brief History of Iowa State Bowl Games — Check Out Our Football Programs!

Last week, the Iowa State Cyclones football team won the Liberty Bowl over Memphis, 21-20, in a game that went down to the wire. Longtime Iowa State football fans probably know that this was Iowa State’s thirteenth bowl appearance and only its fourth bowl victory. What longtime fans may not know is that the ISU Library recently scanned a selection of football programs from the collection held by the University Archives and those are now available to view and download from the Library’s Digital Collections!

Gold colored football program titled "Ames vs. Kansas Aggies Turkey-Day Game"

Program for the Kansas State versus Iowa State football game held on November 26, 1925. Though this isn’t from a bowl game it is an example of one of the earliest programs in the collection. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs,  RS 24/6/0/5, Box 1, Folder 2]

 The 1971 Sun Bowl was Iowa State’s first bowl game. Coached by Johnny Majors, the Iowa State team lost to LSU by a score of 15-33. The program for the game provides some short biographies of the coaching staff and the players. How else would I know that one of defensive tackle Tom Wilcox’s hobbies is scuba diving?

Football program for the 1971 Sun Bowl.

This football program is for the 1971 Sun Bowl between Iowa State and LSU. The game was held on December 18, 1971, in El Paso, Texas. This program was prepared for Iowa State University, but a version must have been made for LSU. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 3, Folder 3]

The following year, Johnny Majors took the team to the 1972 Liberty Bowl. Iowa State came up just short in this contest against Georgia Tech, 31-30. The program for this game is little more than a brochure. Aside from a short recap of the 1972 season and a short biography of the coach, the most interesting part is looking at the roster, which includes height, weight, and age of each of the players.

Football program for the 1972 Liberty Bowl

This program for the 1972 Liberty Bowl is essentially a small brochure. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 3, Folder 5]

 Earle Bruce took over the coaching reigns after Majors left Iowa State and within a few years had the team back into bowl contention. Bruce coached the Iowa State squad to the Peach Bowl in 1977, a loss this time to NC State, and to the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic against Texas A&M. Iowa State lost the game by a score of 12-28, but they came away with this snazzy program.

Program cover for the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic football game

Football program for the 1978 Hall of Fame Classic that pitted Iowa State against Texas A&M. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 5, Folder 4]

It would be over two decades before Iowa State would make another bowl appearance. The 2000 Cyclones squad, coached by Dan McCarney, would finally do what no other squad had previously done—win a bowl game. The Cyclones defeated Pittsburgh 37-29 in the 2000 Insight.com Bowl. Unlike the 1972 Liberty Bowl Program, the program for this game includes biographies on most players and coaches and contains a slew of statistics and recent team history. At 116 pages, it is also nearly three times the size of any of the previous bowl programs.

Football program for the 2000 Insight.com Bowl

Football program for the 2000 Insight.com Bowl between ISU and Pitt. The game was held in Phoenix, Arizona, on December 28, 2000. [Iowa State Cyclones football programs, RS 24/6/0/5, Box 15, Folder 1]

Prior to 2017, the most recent bowl the Cyclones participated in was the 2012 Liberty Bowl, a game the Iowa State squad lost to Tulsa by a score of 17-31. Unfortunately, the University Archives does not have a copy of this program in its collections. If you have an extra copy of this program, or any other Iowa State athletics programs that you might be willing to donate, give us a call!

You can find dozens of football programs on the Library’s Digital Collections website. Of course, you are also more than welcome to visit the Special Collections and University Archives and view the entire football program collection. We would be happy to see you!

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