IOWA CITY, Iowa — In 1991, Iowa wide receiver Danan Hughes produced one of the most iconic plays in the Hawkeyes’ century-plus rivalry with Minnesota.
Early in the fourth quarter in snowy Kinnick Stadium, Hughes skated past two Gophers defensive backs and hauled in a 45-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Matt Rodgers. With wind whipping Kinnick Stadium into blizzard-like conditions in a game commonly referred to as The Snow Bowl, Hughes dropped to his back and made a snow angel in the end zone.
It all was part of his plan.
“I do remember walking in the old locker room and I said, ‘If I score, I’m going to do a snow angel,’ ” Hughes said. “I had a lot of antics back then after touchdowns — when it was allowed.”
The Hawkeyes won the annual season-ending rivalry game 23-8 and finished the regular season 10-1. With the snowstorm that engulfed eastern Iowa that day, the game was an afterthought.
“I remember it took forever for us to get from the Cedar Rapids hotel to here,” said Hughes, who served as sideline reporter for Iowa’s spring game last month. “We didn’t think they were going to have the game. They ended up clearing off the field. Basically, the first-and-10 or first downs were approximates. No one knew where the yard lines were.
“I remember two things: obviously scoring a touchdown and doing a snow angel. I remember Minnesota getting pelted with snowballs, and most of the people throwing snowballs were my baseball teammates at the University of Iowa. It was cool all around.”
Hughes, 46, caught 3 passes for 83 yards and a pair of scores that day. His second TD — also in the fourth quarter — went for 32 yards. The performance put an exclamation point on Hughes’ junior season, which ended with first-team All-Big Ten honors. He caught 43 passes for 757 yards and 8 touchdowns that season. Despite the Hawkeyes’ 10-1 record and 7-1 league mark, the Big Ten’s No. 2 squad was mandated to play in the Holiday Bowl.
In 1992, Hughes was named a second-team All-Big Ten receiver. Twenty-five years later, he ranks fourth in Iowa receiving yards (2,216). He’s tied for second in receiving touchdowns (21) and tied for sixth with 146 catches.
The Kansas City Chiefs drafted Hughes in the seventh round in the 1993 NFL Draft. He played in 85 games over six seasons with the Chiefs. He caught 46 passes for 425 yards and 4 touchdowns and was a punt and kick returner.
Hughes also was an impressive baseball player at Iowa. In 1992, he was drafted in the third round by the Milwaukee Brewers. He was a third-team All-Big Ten outfielder in 1991 and led the Hawkeyes with 40 RBI and 16 stolen bases. He played two seasons of minor league baseball before concentrating on football.
These days, Hughes stays busy in the media world. He calls games for BTN as a football sideline reporter and as a baseball analyst. He lives in Kansas City and works on the Chiefs’ pregame and postgame shows on the CBS affiliate and KCChiefs.com. He also appears at charity events and speaking engagements.
But when Hughes returns to Iowa, he’s lauded as a former Hawkeye. Inevitably, the conversation always turns to Nov. 23, 1991.
“Floyd of Rosedale was on the line,” Hughes said. “[The Gophers] always seemed to have our number at the end of the season. They beat us before we went to the Rose Bowl [in 1990]. My senior year, they beat us to knock us out of bowl contention.
“It was a great time, a great memory. It never fails. When I step into the state of Iowa and someone recognizes me, they bring the snow angel up.”