Kirk Talks Outback

Dec. 17, 2003

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Kirk Ferentz figures both teams participating in the 2004 Outback Bowl on Jan. 1 in Tampa have motivation.

“Our upperclassmen in particular are still stinging from a year ago,” Ferentz said, referencing Iowa’s loss to Southern Cal last January in the 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl. “And, like us, Florida will be motivated to end the season on a positive note and begin building some momentum next year.

Ferentz and the Hawkeyes will have the 2003 season bookended by outstanding quarterbacks — Miami of Ohio’s Ben Roethlisberger and Florida’s Chris Leak. “Another tremendous one,” Ferentz said of the Gator signal-caller.

“Participation in the game is special, no doubt,” Ferentz added. “But, win or lose, you want to come away with a positive feeling. You want to go down and give your very best effort. That didn’t happen last year and that’s my responsibility.”

Ferentz said preparations for Iowa’s second straight January bowl game are going well after a slow start. “(After 12 games) we’re still looking for our rhythm,” he joked.

Iowa’s head coach said his team will be challenged by Florida’s speed. “It would be beneficial to kind of steer the game in the right direction. Of course, that’s easier said the done,” he said.

Ferentz also offered his praise for Al Grady, long-time Iowa City sportswriter, fan of the Hawkeyes and University of Iowa graduate. “He was special and will be missed by all of us,” said Ferentz.

Ferentz also said the last week has been busy but fun. “Decembers have become hectic, but no one on the staff is complaining,” he said in reference to the juggling act between recruiting and preparations for the bowl game.

He also talked about how Hayden Fry “brought down the house,” last week in New York at the College Football Hall of Fame ceremonies and the pride he feels for all of this year’s special award winners, including offensive lineman Robert Gallery, the winner of this year’s Outland Award.

“We’re elated for him. It’s extremely significant and extremely special. Robert’s a great person,” Ferentz said.