Nov. 24, 2004
- UI, Ferentz ink contract extension
- Big Ten Championship merchandise
- Bowl game ticket information
- Listen to the bowl game online!
- Watch Kirk next Tuesday live!
- Purchase your Hawkeye tickets online
- Listen to the Hawkeyes on XM Radio
It’s official. The Hawkeyes will head to the 2005 Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, Head Coach Kirk Ferentz will stick around a few more years, and the Big Ten Conference co-champion Hawkeyes earned a ton of honors Tuesday.
Here’s a recap of Tuesday’s press conference.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL
Anthony Azama of the Capital One Bowl journeyed north on Tuesday to invite the nationally-ranked Hawkeyes (No. 12 AP; No. 14 ESPN/USA Today) to the 2005 Capital One Bowl, saying Iowa was an “overwhelming” selection by the committee.
“I’m happy to have a team that’s never been to our bowl game before get a taste of Orlando and southern hospitality,” he said. “We have always prided our organization as far as selections by what happens on the field, not trying to add any other criteria into the mix. You can’t ask for anything better than to have it come down to the last game of the season, and all of our directors were glued to the television set.”
According to Azama and Iowa athletic director Bob Bowlsby, roughly 7,000 tickets to the game have already been sold. At capacity, the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium seats 72,000 including end zone seats. Without those extra seats, capacity is 65,438.
Bowlsby said he’s not surprised by the amount of tickets already sold, presumably to Iowa fans since the Hawkeyes’ opponent from the Southeastern Conference is yet to be determined but potentially include Auburn, Georgia, LSU or Tennessee.
“I don’t know if I can say I’m amazed because Hawkeye fans never cease to amaze me. It’s always a source of pride to see how Hawkeye fans follow their team,” he said. “Hawkeye fans for many, many years have exemplified the very best in sportsmanship and all the best in partisanship and that includes traveling.”
Ferentz, who will lead a team to a Jan. 1 (or later) bowl for the third straight year and a fourth consecutive bowl game, says no matter who the Hawkeyes face they’ll still be considered the underdogs.
“I think we’ve been underdogs for all but maybe one of our last five or six games and I think you can add one more to the list,” the coach said on Tuesday. “That’s OK. I think we seem to play better in that role, at least. I assure you that all our student athletes will be excited to hear the news, and there are a lot of happy Hawkeyes today.”
Iowa becomes just the fifth Big Ten school to have a New Year’s Day bowl game three years in a row, and that fact makes Bowlsby one of the happiest Hawkeyes.
“That represents great stability and it’s attributable to Coach Ferentz and his staff and a bunch of players that are willing to invest themselves in continual improvement,” the athletic director said. “There are lots of examples of programs that were a flash in the pan, and they did something big one year and then found themselves in decline in years after that. That hasn’t been the case with the Iowa program.
“I’m around tremendous people here everyday which I really appreciate, and no matter where you look I can’t imagine being in a better position. The environment here is tremendous. The only negative I can throw out is the weather, and the other recruiters do that all the time, and that’s why they make winter coats.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
“I think Coach Ferentz has been very meticulous – and likewise his staff has been meticulous – in making sure this is about having a strong program and not just a great season. I think that’s what it’s about when you do the things that are required to put young people in the position to win.”
THREE MORE YEARS
The stability that Bowlsby credited to Ferentz led the two to announce on Tuesday that the “Head Hawk” will stick around until 2012 – three years more than Ferentz’s current contract which runs to 2009.
“Kirk as always has been terrific to work with on the elements of this, and these are not easy processes,” Bowlsby said. “It’s important for Kirk and his family and it’s important for our university. There were a lot of back and forth and a lot of cooperation, and as is usually the case, a few abrasions from time to time, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve extended the contract and I couldn’t be any more pleased with it.”
The Dave McClain Coach of the Year in the Big Ten Conference will have a base salary of $1.2 million, and the new contract includes incentives for a team graduation rate at 55 percent or higher, bowl game appearances, coach of the year awards, and longevity bonuses.
“The guy sitting to my right exemplifies everything that is good about college athletics,” Bowlsby said. “He is not only a terrific mentor and a terrific teacher of the young people in our program, but he has the universal respect of everyone who works with him in the university, from people who are close to the football program to those that just admire him from afar.
“Our student athletes have the opportunity to succeed and they have a model that his second to none in college athletics,” Bowlsby added. “He does it with integrity and good humor and all the best educational principles, and he’s also a terrific football coach. I’m very pleased that we were able to make this extension and we’re obviously paying a lot of money but I consider it a terrific bargain for our university.”
Saying he never imagined being in any of the positions he’s found himself recently, Ferentz “feels good” about being so wanted by the University of Iowa.
“I think I learned back in 1981 that Iowa’s a pretty special place,” the coach said. “My family and I have 15 years invested here now and we know a lot better than we did in that first year. I’ve had so much fun these past couple of years here coaching and it just boils down to a couple of things.
“I’m around tremendous people here everyday which I really appreciate, and no matter where you look I can’t imagine being in a better position. The environment here is tremendous. The only negative I can throw out is the weather, and the other recruiters do that all the time, and that’s why they make winter coats,” Ferentz added.
And while near-constant speculation about his future has become almost a non-issue on the recruiting trail according to the coach, Ferentz says he hopes this contract extension puts any more talk about moving to rest.
“This isn’t a bad place. I’m not the smartest guy in the world, but I did figure that out a while back,” he said. “I think it’s really presumptuous for people on the outside to think they know what’s best for me.”
The new contract also provides for Ferentz’s assistant coaches and coordinators to stay on board for as long as they want, which was an important part of the renegotiation process according to Bowlsby.
“It’s something that Kirk felt strongly about and I certainly encouraged,” the athletic director said. “I think one of the really important elements of every staff, and it’s particularly true with football staffs, continuity makes an enormous difference and it’s one of the great things about Hayden’s staff in the `80s. Not only where those guys terrific coaches, but there was minimal turnover in that time. I think we’re enjoying the good aspects of that right now.”
“I wanted to make sure that all of my assistants had the opportunity to stay on for a long time, and I think they feel that way,” Ferentz said. “I just think it’s critical because football is such a team sport. No one person makes things happen in football. I think this is a great environment to be an assistant coach, I learned that first hand in 1981 when I was here for nine years as an assistant.”
Ferentz said that achieving 30 wins in three years with three different quarterbacks indicates that “some coaching has been going on.”
“I just feel very, very blessed to work with them,” Ferentz said. “There are no egos on our staff, we have our disagreements and that’s a healthy thing, but when it’s time to go we’re all on the same page and I think they do a good job of presenting a united football team. I think all of us take great pride the teamwork that our team exhibits on the field, and we have our differences off the field too, but when it comes time to play, our guys are ready to play and I think that starts with the coaches.”
“The progress that Kirk has made and the work that he has done over the last six years really transcends wins and losses. He’s the right guy for Iowa where our team is 6-5 or 9-2.”
Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby
For the coach and the athletic director, though, it’s all about being on the right path.
“The progress that Kirk has made and the work that he has done over the last six years really transcends wins and losses,” Bowlsby said. “He’s the right guy for Iowa where our team is 6-5 or 9-2.”
But that 9-2 record isn’t bad either.
“That 6-5 was a distinct possibility a few weeks ago too, by the way,” the coach quipped, “not that it ever entered my mind. I was just trying to figure out how to win six.”
BIG TEN AWARDS
The 2004 Iowa Hawkeyes were honored by the Big Ten Conference coaches and media on Tuesday as well.
Ferentz was selected the Dave McClain Coach of the Year, after leading two teams in three years to a share of the Big Ten co-championship and finishing with a 30-7 record in the past three years. But this year was a little bit more special due to the adversity the team has faced.
The Hawkeyes went down as far as their sixth-string running back due to injuries, played with a first-year sophomore quarterback, an inexperienced offensive line, and had the worst running game in the conference averaging just less than 75 yards a game. Moreover, Iowa opened the season at 2-2 and won the last seven straight to achieve the championship.
“I think this team is an amazing story. Maybe as remarkable as anything was the last ballgame because I think we all noticed those first two picks and the thought running through my mind is that we’re playing a young quarterback probably due for a bad game and this may be the bad game. For him to bounce back and play the rest of the game like he did may be about as telling as anything about Drew Tate. He’s our kind of guy.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
“For the season to end the way it did, I can’t say enough about our players and our staff, they’ve done an excellent job,” Ferentz said. “To end up being co-champions of the league and end up in the Capital One Bowl, what an excellent story it’s been.”
Ferentz said that the second Coach of the Year award in three years really isn’t about him.
“Every time there’s coach of the year, and especially this year, I think it’s staff of the year and team of the year,” he said. “We sure as heck didn’t do it with any one person, and I think this year really illustrates the importance of teamwork. I’m really honored and flattered.”
First-year starter Drew Tate won first-team quarterback over preseason favorite Kyle Orton of Purdue on the coaches’ ballot, and Iowa had three first-teamers on the defensive side with Matt Roth on the line and linebackers Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge.
“I think this team is an amazing story. Maybe as remarkable as anything was the last ballgame because I think we all noticed those first two picks and the thought running through my mind is that we’re playing a young quarterback probably due for a bad game and this may be the bad game,” Ferentz said. “For him to bounce back and play the rest of the game like he did may be about as telling as anything about Drew Tate. He’s our kind of guy.”
On the media ballot, Tate was the second-team quarterback, Clinton Solomon was a second-team receiver, and senior Jonathan Babineaux joined Roth on the first-team defensive line. Babineaux was also selected the final defensive Player of the Week by the Big Ten.
And perhaps one of the best things about having such a young team is that all but Babineaux and Roth will be back next year. Linebackers Greenway and Hodge are juniors.
“The thing that I most appreciate about Chad and Abdul – the production goes without saying – is the personalities that they bring,” Ferentz said. “They’ve been leaders ever since they stepped in the lineup, and they grew in that aspect this year and it’s comforting to know we have a pretty good start for next year’s team.”
NOTES: The team plans on leaving for Orlando, FL., on Dec. 23…Iowa will be playing in its fourth-straight bowl game and the first time in school history that it has played in three consecutive January bowl games. The Hawkeyes hold a 10-8-1 all-time bowl record…The Hawkeyes have 11 Big Ten titles outright or shared since football started at Iowa in 1889…The Capital One Bowl will be televised on ABC to a national audience and will start at 12 noon CST.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com