Sept. 26, 2003
Victories in 18 of your last 21 games will draw attention and admiration, particularly from those who stalk the other side of the field. And that’s just the case for Kirk Ferentz, who moved to an even 26 victories and 26 losses as head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes last Saturday when his team defeated Arizona State inside legendary Kinnick Stadium.
The 2003 Hawkeyes are 4-0 as they head to East Lansing, MI, for tomorrow’s Big Ten Conference opener against a talented and 3-1 Michigan State team that is coming off a victory over Notre Dame. The 2002 Hawkeyes posted an 11-2 mark. The 2001 Hawkeyes won three of its last four games, including a thriller in San Antonio over Texas Tech in the 2001 Sylvania Alamo Bowl — the first bowl game achieved by the Hawkeyes under the current staff.
Yes, to some, Iowa football under the direction of Ferentz may have stumbled out of the gate, posting just two victories in its first 20 games. But, those who do what Ferentz does for a living seemed to have a feeling it was just a matter of time before the tide would turn in the Hawkeyes’ favor.
“I think they have a plan,” Purdue Coach Joe Tiller told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “The plan is in place and they’re sticking to the plan. I think any staff that can do that has a chance at success and I think Kirk and his staff have done that.
“They are committed to being a hard-nosed football team and doing things from a very physical point of view, and I think that’s a good philosophy in the Big Ten Conference.”
“They’re not flashy. They’re solid. They block and they tackle and they hang on to the ball. They’re disciplined. They’re patient. They get behind and it doesn’t put the out.”
Joe Paterno, Head Coach, Penn State
Penn State’s Joe Paterno — a coach who has won a few games in his day — put it more simply: “They’re not flashy. They’re solid,” he said. “They block and they tackle and they hang on to the ball. They’re disciplined. They’re patient. They get behind and it doesn’t put the out.
“I think what Kirk did was stay patient with the people he wanted in the program. He worked hard with them. He didn’t try to win wiht gadgets. Now they’re a very confident football team.”
True to his way, Ferentz downplays the success. “I never felt like it was on the block at all,” referring to the pressure to win or else.
“But my popularity ranking wasn’t so good. I know that. But that’s OK, that’s sports,” he added. “How could it be after, what, we were 2-18, right?”