Ferentz: Enjoy the Moment

Sept. 26, 2006

This is probably the week that Kirk Ferentz would most like to be a fan of college football and not the head coach of the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.

“It’s going to be a great week with lots of excitement and energy and fun for the fans,” said Ferentz, who will lead the Iowa Hawkeyes into historic Kinnick Stadium Saturday for a 7 p.m. date with the Ohio State Buckeyes, the nation’s top ranked team who, like the UI, will carry a perfect 4-0 record into the “event.

“There’s a buzz in town – I presume, I’m a coach remember,” said Ferentz, who admits to living pretty much with blinders on from mid-August to early December.

“You work hard to keep a routine and to remain focused. Our job is, of course, to find something, somewhere, to exploit and take advantage of,” said Ferentz. “But, in all honestly, you do want to find the right time to enjoy the moment, enjoy the excitement and on campus and the environment in Kinnick.


“Make no mistake, it will be an electric environment Saturday night and we want the guys to enjoy it. But we also know we have some work to do against a very, very good football team. Like with a lot of things in life, you need to find the right balance,” he added.

The hype is a huge as the statue of Nile Kinnick that now graces the south entrance of the stadium that bears his name: The game has long been slated for a 7 p.m. start and will be only the second night game in the history of football at the UI, the first coming in 1992 when Iowa entertained then-ranked No. 1 Miami.

The game matches two teams who figure to be in the mix for this year’s Big Ten Conference football championship win or lose Saturday. Both teams are unbeaten overall and 1-0 in league play, Iowa registering a win at Illinois last week and Ohio State securing its first Big Ten win of the season at home against Penn State.

Both teams have been tested: Ohio State in a road game at Texas which the Buckeyes prevailed and Iowa at Syracuse where they overcame the loss of starting quarterback Drew Tate to win in double-overtime.

Dialing up the hype-meter is ESPN GameDay’s first appearance on the UI campus since 1996. Chris, Lee, Kirk and Desmond will be live at Hubbard Park adjacent to the Iowa Memorial Union Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and again Saturday for two hours beginning at 9 a.m.

Fans of the Hawkeyes are reminded that Saturday at Kinnick is a “Be Bold, Where Gold” game day. Show your support of the Hawkeyes by turning Kinnick gold!

And, of course, the game will be televised live by ABC to a national audience as part of its “Saturday Night Football” series of broadcasts.

“The week is going to fly by. The biggest thing on our end is to anticipate the distractions like tickets. We try to get all that stuff out of the way early in the week,” Ferentz noted.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes have their fair share of challenges ahead of them and it starts in-house.

“Texas? Forget about Texas. Texas was wine and cheese compared to what you’re going to see (this Saturday in Iowa City). This is more about brats and beer and a lot of both. And by the time kickoff comes, it’s going to be every time the Iowa special teams or defense comes close to stepping on the field, you will not be able to hear.

“Not Texas, `It’s third down for our defense, let’s stand up and make some noise.’ No, I’m talking hostility the way Ohio State saw it last year against Penn State. Because of that, it’s more of an equalizer than what happened with Ohio State went to Texas. The crowd will be a big factor in this game.”

ESPN GameDay’s Kirk Herbstreit Monday on WBNS 1460-AM in Columbus as reported by the Iowa City Press-Citizen

“We have a minivan filled with guys who are pretty banged up. We’ll just have to see how the week goes and see who gets on the practice field and who doesn’t,” he said, noting that both defense end Alex Kanellis and defensive back Devan Moylan are not going to play against Ohio State.

As far as he’s concerned, Ohio State will bring another big-time college football team into Kinnick Stadium and that should come as no surprise.

“Rare is the season when they aren’t a very good football team,” said Ferentz. “They were very good a year ago and they appear to be every bit as good this year despite all their graduation losses.

“What I really admire is that they always give great effort. They play the game the way you’re supposed to play the game,” he added.

Ferentz opened his remarks by echoing comments he heard earlier in the day from another member of the staff at the UI.

“Saturday is tremendous opportunity for us to showcase our football program, our football stadium and our institution. I’m confident that our fans will pace themselves – it will be a long day, no doubt – and save their very best for game time,” Ferentz noted.

Ferentz reminded all willing to listen that one team will walk out of Kinnick 5-0 and the other will be 4-1 “There’s going to be a lot of football left to be played after Saturday,” he offered.