Ferentz speaks on football, conduct, rumors

Jan. 8, 2008

IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz discussed three major topics Tuesday at his postseason press conference in the Jacobson Athletic Building and one of the most emphasized points is that he has no intention of leaving the University of Iowa football program in the near future.

Before taking questions from reporters, Ferentz spent more than 10 minutes talking about the 2007 Hawkeye football season, team player conduct policy and his approach to responding to rumors of him taking another head coaching position.

“When it comes to me, unless both parties are interested, I don’t think it needs to become public,” Ferentz said. “I don’t feel compelled to discuss or share information on that front. I do feel compelled and obligated to talk to (director of athletics) Gary Barta and (president) Sally Mason. I’ve done that in the past and I’ll continue to do that in the future.”

Ferentz has compiled a record of 61-49 in nine years at the UI, including a 38-34 record in Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes became bowl eligible for the seventh consecutive season after finishing 6-6 overall last fall, 4-4 in the conference.

Ferentz reminded the throng of reporters that he is not known for bouncing between jobs.

“I’d encourage you to judge me more so on my actions,” Ferentz said. “I’ve had a fulltime job now for 27 years in coaching. During that time I’ve had three employers and 18 of those years have been at the University of Iowa. I feel very fortunate about that. If you don’t hear something from me you can assume that I’m working on the job that I have and also assume that I’m trying to keep the job that I have.”

The sting from a season-ending 28-19 loss at home to Western Michigan was still on the mind of the coach, who called it “very, very disappointing” because a bowl invitation was at stake “and we didn’t deliver.” Although Ferentz does not want to ignore the final game, he mentioned several positives during the season in which ESPN.com reported that the Iowa program “turned the corner.”

“In fairness to our team you have to look at the positives,” Ferentz said. “Certainly going 4-4 in the Big Ten was a step forward (the Hawkeyes were 2-6 the previous year). For us to come back to win four out of five was a positive and we made progress in close ball games.”

Iowa won five games by 13 or fewer points, three by seven points or less and one in overtime. The Hawkeyes posted a 10-6 win against then No. 18 Illinois.

Even though Iowa was bowl-eligible for the seventh consecutive season, Ferentz called the end of the bowl streak unfortunate.

“That was something we were proud of and happy about,” Ferentz said. “But our goal isn’t to just qualify or play in a bowl game. That’s not how we start out in August.”

Ferentz said the program is ready to start settling into a football mode again later this month. He said the depth chart is open…with at least two exceptions.

“If (Matt) Kroul or (Mitch) King get beat out, shame on them,” Ferentz said. “If those two guys get beaten out then we’re in trouble or we’re really a lot better than I think we are.”

“When it comes to me, unless both parties are interested, I don’t think it needs to become public. I don’t feel compelled to discuss or share information on that front. I do feel compelled and obligated to talk to (director of athletics) Gary Barta and (president) Sally Mason. I’ve done that in the past and I’ll continue to do that in the future.”

UI head coach Kirk Ferentz

Ferentz called the assembling of a staff of assistant coaches “a fluid process” and said it is possible that some of the current coaches could move to other college or professional opportunities before next season.

“We have great people in-house,” Ferentz said. “We all need to make improvements and that starts with me. We plan on doing that. I would be happy if the staff stays intact. I’m not going to stand in the way of anyone having an opportunity.”

Ferentz said that the program has done a “pretty good job” in preseason camp educating the UI student-athletes on conduct. Most of the recent off-field woes for the Hawkeyes have come from younger players when the academic year commences.

“We have to be much more proactive once our players get into the flow of school,” Ferentz said. “Our handling of the situations has been decisive, it’s been firm and it’s been fair.”

The most visible challenge for the Hawkeye staff right now is finalizing the recruiting season.

“If there’s one good thing about not going to a bowl — talk about singleness of purpose,” Ferentz said. “(Recruiting) is going well and coming down the home stretch.”

Ferentz was asked about the status of two Hawkeye players — running back Jevon Pugh and wide receiver Anthony Bowman. He said both were still on the Iowa roster. On a few occasions during the regular season, Ferentz mentioned a point in 2006 when he felt the program “bottomed out.”

“At Minnesota (a 34-24 loss on Nov. 18),” Ferentz said. “Not that the Northwestern game in Kinnick was any prize (a 21-7 Wildcat victory). I think we sunk to a lower depth up in Minnesota, I really do. I was assessing the way we showed up, the way we played and probably the way I coached. This season for a lot of reasons we did a lot of things better. I sit here today confident. Hopefully we’re back to climbing up the hill, up the mountain.”

All-Star Hawkeyes — Four UI student-athletes will represent the Hawkeyes in all-star football games. Cornerback Charles Godfrey will play in the Senior Bowl on Jan. 26 in Mobile, Ala., linebacker Mike Humpal will play in the Hula Bowl on Jan. 12 in Hawaii and defensive ends Kenny Iwebema and Bryan Mattison will play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 19 in Houston, Tex.

From the Training Room — Ferentz said that offensive lineman Dace Richardson had knee surgery in the fall and emphasized that it was not a “standard” ACL repair. He said it is difficult to predict how long the recovery will take or when he will be back to full speed. Tight end Tony Moeaki’s hand/wrist will be 100 percent in June and fullback Jordan McLaughlin had surgery for a sports hernia last week. Wide receiver Andy Brodell “should be fine.”

Quotable Coach — “We’re very excited and very confident,” Ferentz said. “2008 will be a much-improved year in all regards. We’re anxious to get going.”

See You in February —Ferentz will address the media on National Signing Day (Wednesday, Feb. 6). The press conference is tentativley scheduled for 4 p.m.

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