July 26, 2012
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CHICAGO — Woody, Bo, and now Kirk.
The dean of Big Ten Conference football coaches, University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, spent his eight-plus minutes on the podium Thursday at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place touching on several topics, including how fortunate he feels to have a 22-year association with the Hawkeyes.
Ferentz enters Year No. 14 as head coach, and he is four wins away from victory 100 (96-66).
“They stay with their people and I’m very, very appreciative of that,” Ferentz said of the University of Iowa administration, drawing a parallel to a successful philosophy of the Pittsburg Steelers’ football program. “The University of Iowa has been tremendous to me on a professional basis, and more important to me, is what they’ve done for our family.”
Fifty-seven of those 96 victories have come against Big Ten competition, and Big Ten football is why hundreds of coaches, players, administrators, and media converged here for three days of interviews, interviews and more interviews.
Ferentz opened his comments by complimenting the 2012 Hawkeye team for its “good attitude” and the potential to “grow into a good football team.” Iowa opens the season Sept. 1 in Soldier Field against Northern Illinois, a team that won 11 times last season, including a 38-20 victory against Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. Ferentz enjoys playing in Soldier Field, home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. The last time the Hawkeyes played there, they defeated Northern Illinois, 16-3, in 2007.
“A lot of our general student body is from Chicago and we have a lot of alums there as well, so it makes perfect sense,” Ferentz said. “People from our state love coming up to this town. The only bad thing is, we’re playing an outstanding football team in Northern Illinois.”
Ferentz referred to the 2012 offseason as historic, since the Hawkeyes replaced longtime defensive coordinator Norm Parker (retirement) and offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe (wide receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins) with a promotion of Phil Parker (defense) and the addition of Greg Davis (offense).
“We’ll look a little bit different, but in some ways the same,” Ferentz said.
Also added to the UI staff are two former players and team captains LeVar Woods (linebackers) and Brian Ferentz (offensive line).
The most popular question for Big Ten coaches was their philosophy on recruiting players from Penn State in wake of recent penalties handed out to the Nittany Lions by the NCAA. Ferentz called the situation “complex and confusing.” First, he said, other schools need to be compliant when considering the Penn State student-athletes. Then it is a case of programs doing what they feel is appropriate.
“That’s what we try to do,” Ferentz said.
“We have a lot of positions right now that are wide-open,” Ferentz said. “It’s very likely that maybe one of those two guys (true freshmen Greg Garmon or Barkley Hill) — or maybe both of them — will end up playing.”
Ferentz ended his discussion by saying the Hawkeye program can’t do anything different from what it has already done to avoid attrition at the running back position. That’s life in college football, he said, and each year is a different year.
“We’ll continue to recruit guys that we think are going to have a chance to have a great career and get their degree from Iowa,” Ferentz said. “It’s really no different from any other position.”
The Big Ten Football Media Days continue Friday at 8 a.m., with one-on-one interviews with players and coaches; it concludes with the 41st Annual Kickoff Luncheon at 11:30 a.m.