Aubrey Devine and his brother, Glenn, came to the University of Iowa in 1918, after playing high school football for Des Moines West High School (now closed). By their sophomore years, they were both inserted into the starting lineup. Glenn was a defensive standout and a solid blocker, while Aubrey eventually became the starting quarterback. Aubrey also played defensive back, punter, kicker, punt returner, and kick returner.
Iowa had a 5-2 record in 1919. Aubrey Devine kicked the game-winning field goal as Iowa defeated Minnesota, 9-6. Devine also accounted for all of Iowa's points in leading the Hawkeyes to wins over Northwestern and Iowa State. For his efforts, Devine was a first team All-Big Ten selection as a sophomore.
In 1920, Devine teamed up with fullback Gordon Locke, a sophomore. Locke powered the ball into the line, while Devine used his speed to run the ball to the outside. Devine scored Iowa's first touchdown and then threw a game-winning pass as Iowa defeated Indiana, 14-7. Devine and Locke each scored two touchdowns as Iowa defeated Minnesota, 28-7, for the third consecutive year. It was the first time that Minnesota had been defeated three years in a row by a single opponent.
In the last game of 1920, Devine passed for a touchdown, rushed for a touchdown, and intercepted three passes in a victory over Iowa State. Devine led the Big Ten in scoring in 1920 and was again named first team All-Big Ten.
The 1921 Season
Aubrey Devine was the team captain of the 1921 Hawkeyes, arguably the greatest team in school history. In the second game of the season, Iowa faced Notre Dame, coached by Knute Rockne. It was Iowa's first meeting with Notre Dame, and their captain was Eddie Anderson, who would coach Iowa from 1939-1949. The Irish had not lost a game since 1918, a span of 20 straight wins. Devine kicked the game-winning field goal as Iowa pulled a 10-7 upset.
Two games later, Devine accounted for all of Iowa's points in a 13-6 win over Purdue. Devine scored the game-winning touchdown on a punt return that sports historian Clark Shaughnessy called "one of the 12 greatest individual plays in the history of football". But Iowa's next game against Minnesota would be Devine's signature game.
Devine accounted for 464 total yards and six touchdowns as Iowa defeated Minnesota, 41-7. It was then the most points ever scored against Minnesota, and it was the most scored against Minnesota in the first sixty years of their program. Devine passed for two touchdowns, rushed for four touchdowns, and kicked five extra points. He rushed for 162 yards, passed for 122 yards, and had 200 return yards on kicks, punts, and interceptions. Hall of Fame Minnesota coach Henry L. Williams called Devine "the greatest player who ever stepped on our field."
The next week against Indiana, Devine rushed for 183 yards and four more touchdowns and passed for 102 yards before leaving the game in the third quarter. Devine scored 57 points in consecutive weeks. A win the following week over Northwestern gave Iowa a 7-0 final record, and a perfect 5-0 mark in the Big Ten. It was Iowa's second Big Ten title and the first outright Big Ten title in Hawkeye history. Not only did Iowa not lose a game, the 1921 Hawkeyes never trailed an opponent all season.
Aubrey Devine led the conference in scoring for the second time and was named first team All-Big Ten for the third straight year. He was a consensus first team All-American in 1921, the second in school history after teammate Lester Belding in 1919. Devine's 895 yards rushing in 1921 is still an Iowa season record for a quarterback, and he led Iowa in rushing, passing, and scoring each of his three years in uniform. The incomparable Aubrey Devine gains near unanimous support from those who saw him play as the greatest player ever to wear a Hawkeye uniform, greater even than Nile Kinnick.
Devine was more than just a great football player. He earned nine varsity letters, as he was a three-time letter winner in basketball and track as well as football. He also won the Big Ten Medal for excellence in athletics and academics.
After graduation, Aubrey Devine coached basketball in 1924 and 1925 at the University of Denver. Devine was an assistant football coach from 1925-1936 at Southern California under Howard Jones. Devine left coaching for law school and eventually became an attorney for the Veteran's Administration. He retired in California and lived to be 94 years old.
Devine was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1989, Iowa fans selected an all-time University of Iowa football team during the 100th anniversary celebration of Iowa football, and Aubrey Devine was selected to the offensive backfield. Devine was one of just five football players inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame in the Hall's inaugural year in 1951, joining Nile Kinnick, Duke Slater, Jay Berwanger, and Elmer Layden. In 1999, Sports Illustrated selected Aubrey Devine as the 15th greatest sports figure in the history of the state of Iowa.
- Black & Gold Memories, by George Wine, Page 7 (ISBN 0-615-12398-8)
- Black & Gold Memories, by George Wine, Page 6 (ISBN 0-615-12398-8)
- 75 Years With The Fighting Hawkeyes, by Bert McCrane & Dick Lamb, Page 70 (ASIN: B0007E01F8)
- Greatest Iowa Sports Figures
- University of Iowa Football, by Chuck Bright (ISBN 0-87397-233-3)