'Winning Ugly'

Oct. 30, 2009

Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Official Sports Report, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free. To receive the UI’s OSR or to learn more, click HERE.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — “Winning Ugly” – a term synonymous this year with the nationally ranked Iowa Hawkeyes – just might be catching on.

None other than the much-heralded Tim Tebow, quarterback of the No. 1 ranked Florida Gators, said this week he’d gladly “win ugly” because, after all, a win is a win is a win.

So, exactly what is “Winning Ugly?” In the case of the unbeaten Iowa Hawkeyes, it seems the definition is as simple as doing what needs to done to get the “W.”

Iowa needed to blocktwo field goal attempts in the final minute to beat a talented intrastate rival in both team’s season-opener and did so.

Winning Ugly? Perhaps.

Iowa needed a blocked punt to spark a hard-fought victory in the rain at Happy Valley against a team that appears today to be pretty darn talented and got one.

Winning Ugly? Perhaps.

Iowa needed its defense to crank it up a notch when the Hawkeyes visited Madison earlier this month and it did.

Winning Ugly? Perhaps.

Iowa needed to march 70-yards in the final 1:32 last Saturday at East Lansing and it did.

Winning Ugly? Perhaps.

It’s very safe to say Kirk Ferentz and his staff and student-athletes would answer the question “What is `Winning Ugly’?” with a pretty straight-forward “Whatever it takes to get a `W’.”

Many who follow the game of college football would likely argue that Saturday’s game was 57 minutes of “Winning Ugly” – two teams playing hard-nosed football and earning every yard, every first down gained before, of course, the game-changing lightening strikes at game’s end.

“There were two good teams playing out there,” Ferentz said Wednesday during his weekly radio show. “Both teams are going to make plays and both teams are going to stop each other out there.

“I thought that was the story of the two goal-line stands. You could be critical of the offenses, I suppose, but I thought it was great defense by both their part and our part.”
Kirk Ferentz on the outstanding play of Iowa’s and Michigan State’s defenses in last Saturday’s Hawkeye victory at East Lansing.

“I thought that was the story of the two goal-line stands. You could be critical of the offenses, I suppose, but I thought it was great defense by both their part and our part,” he continued.

“If you really love football you’ve got to appreciate good plays like that. Sometimes they go against you, unfortunately. Fortunately, we still had a few left in our pocket, too. That’s what made it a great football game.”

The game’s final minutes were marked by two “things of beauty:” The successful hook-and-ladder by the Michigan State offense and, of course, the game-winning drive by the Hawkeyes capped by a 7-yard strike from Ricky Stanzi to Marvin McNutt.

“I had a perfect view of the whole thing developing,” Ferentz said of State’s trickeration. “It is effective because you teach your defensive players to break hard on the ball. When the completion was made, our guys went hard to the ball. They just executed it very well. It was just good football. Sometimes the other guys get you, too.”

And “The Drive” and game-winning play?

“A tremendous collective effort capped by a great play. Obviously, the guys never lost faith in each other,” Ferentz offered.

“Winning Ugly”…is a beautiful thing.