Dec. 2, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Horseshoes, an abacus and Dan Gable were just some of the subjects University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz light-heartedly touched on Wednesday at a press conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
But the topic of the day — the last 11 days, actually — is the UI football bowl situation as the Hawkeye Nation tries to gauge any hunches the head coach might offer.
“There is no bad bowl,” Ferentz said. “I’ve never been to a bad bowl, never had a bad bowl experience. That’s going to definitely be the case here. We’re very excited about what our team’s done and whether we’re playing in a BCS bowl or in any of the other bowls…Orlando, Tampa, San Antonio…they’re all great experiences, I can assure our team’s going to be very, very enthusiastic and we’re looking forward to the challenge. We’re going to be happy wherever we go and we’re going to play a very tough team.”
Is it going to be Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, Texas Christian in the Orange or Louisiana State in the Capital One? Nothing will be made official until Sunday, Dec. 6, but after a few days away from the grind of the regular season, Ferentz knows that the Hawkeyes are BCS bowl-worthy.
“Somebody asked after the (Minnesota) game if we were BCS-worthy and my answer at that time was I wasn’t really sure — and I wasn’t,” Ferentz said. “I’ve had a little time to think now and I’d answer that question with a yes. If you look at our team the way it competed on the field — the head-to-head results we had — we defeated six bowl-eligible teams and our guys did a great job taking a very challenging road schedule and they embraced that with four victories and an overtime defeat (at Ohio State).”
Ferentz had an opportunity to watch several football games over Thanksgiving weekend and he was intrigued by the number of upsets, the number of close games and the way injuries impacted numerous teams. It was Iowa during the regular season that, for the most part, avoided upsets, won the tight contests and survived injuries to key players.
“Somebody asked after the (Minnesota) game if we were BCS-worthy and my answer at that time was I wasn’t really sure — and I wasn’t. I’ve had a little time to think now and I’d answer that question with a yes. If you look at our team the way it competed on the field — the head-to-head results we had — we defeated six bowl-eligible teams and our guys did a great job taking a very challenging road schedule and they embraced that with four victories and an overtime defeat (at Ohio State).”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“After watching games this weekend, anyone worried about our 12-0 score (over Minnesota on Nov. 21), hey — they all count,” Ferentz said. “This isn’t horseshoes. I never played horseshoes, but they say close counts in horseshoes. It doesn’t matter if it was close or not. There were a lot of teams that would have taken a 12-0 win last weekend.”
Only two Big Ten Conference schools can play in a BCS bowl. Ohio State is a lock for the Rose Bowl, leaving one spot for either Iowa or Penn State. The Hawkeyes won at Penn State, 21-10, on Sept. 26. In Pennsylvania it is alleged that from a marketing perspective, the national appeal of the Nittany Lions is boosted by the presence of veteran head coach Joe Paterno.
“You know how much respect I have for (the Penn State) program and it all starts at the top,” Ferentz said. “Coach Paterno is a legendary coach and he’s a tremendous human being. How do you cheer against him? The reality is that one of us will get picked. The best way we could counter that is maybe we could coax coach Gable to come on with us if we play in a bowl. He’s a living legend, too. Throw in coach (Hayden) Fry, too. Maybe he’ll jump in there.”
Ferentz said he hasn’t paid attention to any BCS campaigning out of State College. Iowa’s history speaks for itself.
“I know our TV numbers are great and I know our fans travel,” Ferentz said. “I can’t imagine anybody travels better. I’m sure somebody has got an abacus — remember those things? Somebody has to be counting that stuff. Our fans are crazy that way, so that’s great and that will help. We’re all going to win. That’s how I look at it. We’re all going to win.”
Iowa returns to the practice field this weekend and the injury news is encouraging. Quarterback Ricky Stanzi will be throwing the football around this weekend when practice resumes and Ferentz anticipates him being full speed the week of Dec. 7. Linebackers Jeremiha Hunter and Jeff Tarpinian are “good to go” according to Ferentz.
Although Ferentz called the injury to senior offensive lineman Dace Richardson “the diciest area,” he expects Richardson to be close to full speed in 2 ½ weeks. Ferentz also hopes to persuade Richardson to return to the team in 2010.
“It’s really up to him. He’s been through an awful lot,” Ferentz said. “What a great story. From my observation, I don’t think he’s ever enjoyed football anymore than he did this year. It’s a matter of what he chooses to do. I’m very hopeful he stays. It would be great to have him back another year.”
Two topics were off-limits to the media: whether any of the current Hawkeye student-athletes would be leaving for the NFL and then of course, the annual Ferentz-moving to this University- coaching carousel talk.
“We had a team meeting yesterday morning,” Ferentz said. “I’ve always asked them not to discuss injury situations — that doesn’t give us any competitive advantage. The other two things I told them was if anyone wants to ask them about these two topics, just bounce it right back to me: Anybody’s NFL status. Please don’t ask our players about their NFL status and please don’t ask them about my status. I like it at Iowa. I’ve had paychecks from three different places since 1981. I’m not a vagabond coach. I like it where I’m at and I don’t see things changing here.”