October 28, 2004
hawkeyesports.com note: The following was written by Kevin Evans and first appeared in Oct. 28, 2004 editions of the Waterloo Courier.
Brian Ferentz always wanted to play football at Iowa for Hayden Fry.
It never entered his mind he would instead be playing for his dad.
“It was not a thought I ever entertained when he was in the NFL,” said Brian, a starting offensive guard for his father, Kirk.
“Once he came here, oh yeah. I thought about it a lot.”
“When I was a kid growing up we lived over on Koser, right off Melrose, You could see the stadium from my house. I remember sitting in the front yard, playing football in my little Iowa uniform before the home games. People going to the stadium would be filing down the street. If you are born in Iowa City, I think you get indoctrinated into the whole Iowa football thing pretty early. To me, Iowa football holds a pretty special place in my heart.”
UI Offensive Lineman Brian Ferentz
Things have worked out just fine for both Kirk and Brian. For the younger Ferentz, it has been a bonus getting to play where he wanted and for his dad.
“Yeah, this has been great,” said Brian. “Weeks like last week are when you really appreciate it. One of the main reasons I came to play for him, outside of all of the football reasons, was wanting to be with him and experience football with him because that is something we had not done my whole life. He had been doing his thing, and I had been doing mine.
“Just being able to play football and to experience everything together has really been…I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Brian was born in Iowa City when his father was the offensive line coach for Fry at Iowa.
He was 7 years old when the family packed up and moved to Maine for three seasons. NFL stops in Cleveland and Baltimore followed, but being a Hawkeye was already deep into Brian’s blood.
“When I was a kid growing up we lived over on Koser, right off Melrose,” he recalled. “You could see the stadium from my house. I remember sitting in the front yard, playing football in my little Iowa uniform before the home games. People going to the stadium would be filing down the street. If you are born in Iowa City, I think you get indoctrinated into the whole Iowa football thing pretty early. To me, Iowa football holds a pretty special place in my heart.”
Brian started six games last season as a sophomore before being sidelined with a knee injury.
Complications from that surgery cost him four games this season, too.
But since he returned to the lineup against Michigan State, the Hawkeyes are 3-0. The offense has improved during that stretch, though last week at Penn State it did have trouble.
“Fortunately we were able to run when it mattered in that one,” said Brian. “But it is going to matter a little more in the earlier quarters in the games coming up. We have to pull our act together and start running the football.”
Being an offensive lineman, Brian could have ended up having his dad be his position coach. Kirk Ferentz is considered one of the best offensive line coaches in the business and the number of Iowa linesmen drafted in recent years prove it.
Yet, if his dad would have been the offensive line coach at Iowa, Brian might not have been so quick to sign on as a Hawkeye.
“I am glad he is not the line coach, especially after Saturday,” said Brian. “He got on us on the sideline, and that was good enough for me.
“I think I would have thought a little differently about my decision (to attend Iowa). Like Brian Mattison (freshman defensive end), his dad is the D-line coach at Notre Dame, and I think that is a big reason he immediately considered going someplace else and did not consider Notre Dame.
“The relationship we have is good. I see him every day, but we are not together as much as I am with coach (Reese) Morgan, that would be too much.”
Even so, there is a price to pay for being the son of the head coach.
“If he was my position coach it would be worse on my me (rather than easier,)” said Brian. “He would have taken care of that whole thing pretty quick. It would have been a long five years for me.”
It is still a little tough, Brian says, “but time goes on and he finds new targets. When I was a little younger, it was tough some days.”
Still, he wouldn’t trade his experiences now, or in the past, for anything.
Six years in the NFL were educations for dad and son.
“I was too young to gain any technical pointers, but watching guys like Orlando Brown play, his aggressiveness, physicality and brute force – I always respected and admired that,” said Brian. “There was a guy named Steve Everett – who actually went to Michigan – who was with us three years. I really looked up to him, and actually I still wear his number (61).
“I thin the most important thing I learned from being around the NFL is it doesn’t just happen. Those guys are talented and they are gifted, but those guys work hard. I think there is a misconception here that a lot of guys assume, especially with the success we have had here with guys going to the NFL, I think people assumer on day, if you work out with coach (Chris) Doyle, have a good pro day, bench press 225 pounds 35 times, somebody will draft you.
“That’s not how it works out.”
Brian Ferentz may be one of those guys with an NFL dream, too, but he’s got the big picture in mind, too. He wants to be a coach.
“Sure, that’s what I would like to do in the future,” he said.
He didn’t say it, though, but following in his dad’s footsteps back to Iowa would probably fulfill another dream.