Hawkeyes 'Develop Talent'

Aug. 19, 2010

Practice No. 17 Photo Gallery | BTN at Practice Video

IOWA CITY, IA – Hawkeye fans across the country know the big names in Iowa football. Players like Ricky Stanzi and Adrian Clayborn have received their fair share of preseason accolades heading into the 2010 season. But, athletes who now are listed as starters on the two-deep roster were once young players developing their skills during tough fall practices. Big Ten Network analyst Howard Griffith believes the philosophy and style of coaching in Iowa City has led those players to be household names.

Griffith, along with his Big Ten Network partners Dave Revsine and Gery DiNardo, were at the Kenyon Practice Facility Thursday to tape Iowa’s episode of the “Big Ten Football Preview Tour,” which will air Thursday, August 26 at 7 p.m. (CT) on the BTN. After dissecting Iowa’s practice, Griffith was quick to point out why Iowa has been successful under Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.

“It has to start with the coaching staff and the philosophy behind it,” Griffith said. “What I like about this program is that it’s one where players can come in and develop. Yes, you get your superstars at certain positions. But for the most part, you’ve got guys in here that have developed.”

Ferentz has a gained a reputation for developing players into NFL-caliber athletes. Names like Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders and Sean Considine are just a few on the list of many that honed their skills during practices like the one Griffith observed Thursday night.

Another aspect of Iowa football that Griffith believes leads to success is the consistency in coaching staff. Seven of Iowa’s nine assistant coaches and coordinators have been under Ferentz for at least nine years, with four coaches (Ken O’Keefe, Norm Parker, Eric Johnson and Phil Parker) serving all 12 years with Ferentz. Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle has been with Ferentz for a dozen years as well. Griffith knows consistency leads to wins.

“They (the players) understand the system and keep learning from the same coaches,” Griffith said. “One of the things that is underrated at Iowa is that this coaching staff doesn’t have turnover. You are coaching these kids up and they are going to understand what is expected of them when it’s their turn.”

The Hawkeyes worked in just helmets and shoulder pads Thursday night, but that didn’t slow down the intensity of practice. Griffith was very impressed on the efficiency and intensity of a Ferentz-led practice.

“Being a former professional athlete, I respect how much work they get in,” Griffith said. “You talk to a lot of people and whey they don’t see guys in full pads, they are disappointed because there isn’t a lot of hitting. But this team practices very well, both in pads and out of pads like tonight. They work hard, the speed and tempo of practice is what I really look for. You don’t see a lot of guys rolling around on the ground or out of control. You see guys getting their work in and it’s efficient. That’s what I like about it.”

Griffith thinks the model of Hawkeye football is one that should equal success for years to come.

“It really shows in the development and how this program is built,” Griffith said. “When you have a guy leave, you have some guys that are going to step up and make plays for you. The cohesiveness that you have on the coaching staff at Iowa is a big reason why when guys leave, the next guy is ready to step up.”

Sounds like Griffith is a fan of Iowa’s “Next Man In” philosophy.