It's Tampa and the Outback Bowl!

Dec. 4, 2005

The Bowl Game

More About Iowa Football

For Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby, it all happened at 2:54 p.m., when he was sitting on press row during the Iowa women’s basketball game.

The 2006 Outback Bowl selection committee called his cell phone, and he started up the steps of Carver-Hawkeye Arena and accepted the bid.

“I almost got off the phone before I could find out who we were playing,” Bowlsby said at a press conference Sunday night. “A week ago, I was less confident that this was going to happen than I was yesterday or today.

“Most things went right for us over the last two weeks.”

Louisiana State and Virginia Tech both lost on Saturday, which left Ohio State ready to move up in the Bowl Championship Series and make a return appearance at the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

That turn of events, along with the selection committee’s vote for a team with a two-game winning streak on Sunday, allowed No. 25 Iowa to face No. 16 Florida in the 2006 Outback Bowl at 10 a.m. CST on Jan. 2.

The Hawkeyes (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) were tied for third in the Big Ten Conference with Wisconsin (9-3), Northwestern (7-4), and Michigan (7-4). The Badgers will head to the Capital One Bowl, Northwestern to the Sun Bowl, and Michigan to the Alamo Bowl.

Speculation before and immediately after Saturday’s results in other conferences had Iowa and Michigan facing off for a spot in the Outback Bowl.

Bowlsby said the difference were the fans.

“I think there’s no other way to say it,” Bowlsby said. “I think fans have demonstrated that they will travel and support the team like they’ve done throughout the season and like they’ve done through every other bowl site. That’s something that’s special about this program — the support that we receive.”

Bowlsby then called Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.

“I was pretty happy,” Ferentz said after Bowlsby’s phone call. “We couldn’t lose because we’ve had great experiences in San Antonio as well as Tampa, but to have the opportunity to play in January and play a team like Florida, we’re just thrilled to death.”

The game will be the Hawkeyes’ fourth-straight January bowl appearance, and a rematch of the 2004 Outback Bowl, in which Iowa defeated Florida, 37-17.

“We are delighted beyond words to be playing in the 2006 Outback Bowl,” Ferentz said. “It’s a testament to everyone connected with Iowa football, including our fans, that we have been selected again by this prestigious bowl.”

The Outback Bowl will be celebrating its 20th anniversary this January, and Bowlsby said that may have played a part in the committee’s decision.

“I think they were very anxious to have somebody who would travel well because they want it to be a tough ticket and they want it to be an appropriate celebration,” Bowlsby said.

Iowa Sports Information estimated that between 100-110,000 fans have traveled to the Hawkeyes’ last three bowl appearances: roughly 50,000 attended the Orange Bowl, and between 25 and 30,000 attended both the Outback Bowl and the Capital One Bowl.

Bowlsby said, though, that very little “selling” has to be done to get bowl selection committees to look closely at the Iowa program.

“I’m not going to call them up and give them a lot of shinola about the Iowa program because they already know that,” the athletic director said. “I think it was probably several things. One, I think our staff does a very good job of running bowl games. We had a terrific experience the last time we were there. I think as much as anything, and Kirk said it as well, I think the Iowa fans have a lot to do with us being selected over Michigan.”

Preparations begin in earnest immediately.

Ferentz said the system of practices and travel his staff has created over the past few years has been fine-tuned since their Orange Bowl loss to Southern California in 2003.

“I was pretty happy. We couldn’t lose because we’ve had great experiences in San Antonio as well as Tampa, but to have the opportunity to play in January and play a team like Florida, we’re just thrilled to death.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz

“I think our guys understand that when we practice we do practice,” the coach said. “When we have a work day we want the guys to work. We probably lost some of that focus in the Orange Bowl quite frankly, and we got a little caught up in the success of that year.

“It starts with me. I think we’ve learned from that. When we make mistakes we at least try to learn from them. You’re going to be playing your last game, so you want to leave here feeling like you played your best game. That was a hard part about the Orange Bowl. It wasn’t just that we lost – you win some and you lose some – but it was that we felt we didn’t play our best game. I think the older guys have passed that on down.”

Ferentz also said the extra month of full practices is “invaluable” to younger players.

“It’s so much different having a pair of shoulder pads on and a helmet instead of just shorts,” he said. “Plus, it’s a good learning experience to see how things are supposed to be. It’s good to see how older guys prepare for it. It is really helpful for the development of younger players.”

On the business side of it all, ticket manager David Sandstrum said Iowa’s first allotment of tickets was 11,000 with an additional 5,000 as needed. The 16,000 tickets was an extra 1,000 more than the allotment in 2004.

“Anytime we go to Florida, I know we’re going to sell a lot of tickets,” he said. “We have a proven history down there. We’re fortunate to get 16,000.

“Our phones were busy right when I walked out of the office. Hopefully most people take advantage of buying online because we only have so many phones,” he added.

Sandstrum said Tuesday is the priority deadline for season-ticket holders to purchase their tickets, which are $70 including fees for stadium seats and $140 for club seats that are only available to members of the Kinnick Society.

Last year, Sandstrum said, was the first year demand exceeded supply and fans had to be turned away. Sandstrum said that most fans should be accommodated if they purchase their tickets in a timely manner.

“Our fans support the Hawkeyes and that’s a fantastic thing,” he said.

Fans can order tickets at 1-800-IA-HAWKS (1-800-424-2957), online by clicking HERE, or at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena ticket office.

For more ticket information, click HERE.

The Official University of Iowa Bowl Tour
The UI Alumni Association will once again sponsor the University of Iowa’s official bowl tour. As always, the official tour will include round-trip charter air service, deluxe hotel accommodations, a welcome reception, game tickets (if necessary), a pre-game tailgate party and more.

Fans of the Hawkeyes interested in traveling to Tampa on the official bowl tour can call the UI Alumni Association at 1-800 553-5527. Fans can also visit the Association’s official bowl tour web site by clicking HERE.

Winnebrenner Red Carpet Travel of Iowa City also offers fans of the Hawkeyes a turn-key operation to Tampa for the 2006 Outback Bowl. For information call (319) 351-4510.

The Official Outback Bowl Hawkeye Huddle
The National I-Club will again partner with the UI Alumni Association on the staging of the Official Outback Bowl Hawkeye Huddle. Details of that event will be released to the media and posted on in the coming days.

Other Outback Bowl Events Staged by the UI
Additional events such as a special bowl game edition of “Hawk Talk” featuring Gary Dolphin will be scheduled for the days leading up to the game. Information about those events will be available at as details are finalized.

Barry Pump,