Dick Barker, native of Oklahoma City, Okla., became Iowa State’s first football All-American in 1919. The guard was elected to the second team of the Chicago Tribune’s All-America squad and to Knute Rockne’s All-America list in 1919. He was also an All-Western, all-Missouri Valley and all-Iowa selection in 1917 and 1919.
The 1919 Cyclones were 5-2-1 under the direction of head coach Charles “Uncle Charlie” Mayser. Barker provided strong line play and recovered a fumble in the Cyclones’ 46-0 homecoming rout of Kansas State. He closed out his career with a crushing blow to a Drake ball carrier that jarred the ball loose and was recovered by ISU’s Leland Zink, who ran the fumble in for a touchdown to defeat the Bulldogs, 14-0.
Barker was the first Cyclone to play in the NFL, signing with the Chicago Staleys under head coach George S. Halas in 1921. The Staleys, which changed its name to the Bears the following season, notched a 9-1-1 in Barker’s only season in Chicago.
In addition to his talents on the football field, Barker was a top-notch wrestler. In the 1921 meet against Penn State, Barker won a decision over Capt. Spangler in the first period. The decision gave Barker the intercollegiate championship in the 175-pound weight class. He finished his career with 10-1-1 mark, including five pins. The only loss of his career came in his first collegiate match, where Barker wrestled at heavyweight with a broken hand.
Barker went on to become the football coach at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa. After a year at Cornell, Barker started the wrestling program at the University of Michigan. He was then enticed to come back to Cornell after two years at Michigan to serve as the school’s athletic director, football and wrestling head coach. Barker became known as one of the pioneers of collegiate wrestling. He helped draft the first collegiate rules and helped plan the first NCAA tournament in 1928. Barker, who was an assistant coach of the 1928 U.S. Olympic Wrestling team, tutored two-time Olympian Lloyd Appleton, a silver medalist in 1928, and Olympians Kenneth Truckenmiller, Lyle Morford and Dale Brand. Brand was an NCAA champion and Morford a three-time All-American at Cornell. He led the Division III school to nine top-10 NCAA all-university finishes until his retirement in 1941. He was inducted into the College Wrestling Hall of Fame as a coach in 1991.