Iowa Selected Third, Again

Aug. 1, 2005

CHICAGO — The second verse is almost the same as the first for Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz at the 2005 Big Ten Football Media Days and Kickoff Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency here Monday.

His team is ranked third in a preseason poll by the conference media behind defending-champion Michigan and perennial favorite Ohio State — same as last year. What’s different, though, is that this year Ferentz thinks his team, which shared the league title with Michigan last season, should be in early contention for the championship.

“I think we do,” he said. “I’m not sure where. I’m not sure how to handicap it at this point, since we haven’t played a game yet. I think it’s going to be an interesting race (for the championship), and hopefully we’ll be right in it.”

Aside from that candid bit of confidence out of a man who usually plays down expectations in public, Ferentz stuck closely to the script he’s used for the past few years.

  • When it comes to players growing a big head about all the preseason accolades: “With all the preseason publications to come out prior to this announcement, I think everybody has grown numb to it all. I hope they have. I think most importantly our players know it doesn’t mean much, just like when we went unselected. It’s pretty much just good preseason talk,” Ferentz says.
  • When it comes to quarterback Drew Tate’s selection as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year: “I don’t know how much it means exactly other than he’s getting recognized, and rightfully so. He did some amazing things last year. But right now his attitude is focused on what he needs to do. He’s going to have to live with notoriety because that’s something players just have to learn to deal with sometimes,” the coach said.
  • And when it comes to the championship race: “I think the only team missing (among the top three) is Purdue. If you look at the whole picture — schedule, returning players — I’m not sure Purdue isn’t the favorite. I really believe that. I think they have as good a chance as anybody to win the conference. It’s going to be another challenging year for everybody,” Ferentz said.

Purdue has 20 returning starters — the most in the Big Ten — and does not have either Michigan or Ohio State on its schedule this year. The Boilermakers will host the Hawkeyes Oct. 8.

Ferentz did say Monday that two positions — running back and defensive line — were going to be the biggest question marks he has prior to players returning to campus next week.

“That’s the good thing about preseason is that it gives you time to move beyond speculating and to making some evaluations and some determinations,” Ferentz said. “It’s nice to be able to run the ball. If you can’t do that, and you become one-dimensional, you play into the hands of a defensive football team.”

Ferentz, along with linebackers Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway, who were both surprisingly overlooked for Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and receiver Ed Hinkel will field more questions Tuesday before meeting with fans at the luncheon.

Barry Pump,