Jan. 7, 2016
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By DARREN MILLER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — When the University of Iowa football team reconvenes Jan. 19, head coach Kirk Ferentz will challenge it to learn and grow from the 2015 season and evolve and improve in 2016.
Ferentz held a postseason “cleanup” news conference Thursday in the All-American Room in the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center, reflecting on a “historic” 2015 that included a 12-0 regular season, berth in the Big Ten Football Championship Game, and a trip to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 25 years.
With all the accomplishments and momentum, Ferentz said he was not ready to refer to himself as “Happy Kirk,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to being called “New Kirk” in 2015 because his Hawkeyes ran two fake field goals and appeared more aggressive in several other in-game situations.
“Big picture-wise it was a fun, enjoyable, gratifying year,” Ferentz said. “Now the challenge is what we can do with this opportunity. This is a different team. What’s the best this team can do and how successful can we be at getting there? That’s a race we’ll be running here in a couple weeks, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The big news concerning UI football had already made the rounds on the world wide web and social media before Ferentz’s address on Thursday. Linebackers coach Jim Reid — a native of Medford, Massachusetts — is “returning home” as defensive coordinator at Boston College. Reid held the same position there in 1994.
“It’s bittersweet,” Ferentz said. “I am appreciative of everything Jim did for our program over the last three years and wish him nothing but the best moving forward.
“Big picture-wise it was a fun, enjoyable, gratifying year. Now the challenge is what we can do with this opportunity. This is a different team. What’s the best this team can do and how successful can we be at getting there? That’s a race we’ll be running here in a couple weeks, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
UI football coach
“It’s always hard to lose a good person, but this move made total sense for him. He’s going back home, it’s an opportunity to be a coordinator, and I think he’ll have a positive impact on their football team (at Boston College).”
Reid is leaving, but cornerback Desmond King will be back for his senior season. King, a consensus All-American, received the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award, presented to the nation’s top defensive back. King, who has 38 career starts, finished the season with 72 tackles, 13 pass breakups, and eight interceptions. He also returned 29 kicks and eight punts.
“I think it’s the best thing for him on all levels, not just as a football player, but as a person,” Ferentz said. “It’s just a great, great thing. I know he’s going to be a great teammate and hopefully develop into one of our strong team leaders. I think he has that opportunity and expectation and we’re thrilled to get him back.”
In other personnel news, freshmen James Daniels (offensive line) and Josh Jackson (defensive back) had successful surgery within the past four days. Redshirt freshman defensive end Terrence Harris is moving on to another opportunity.
The Hawkeyes graduate 21 seniors from a team that set a school record for wins in a season at 12-2 overall, 8-0 in the Big Ten Conference. Ferentz said there will be a void in leadership, but several returning Hawkeyes will be counted on to develop into leadership roles.
Ferentz will be in Glendale, Arizona, this weekend to receive the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award that is voted on by the entire Football Writers Association of America membership. The official presentation reception will be held Jan. 9, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona, during a reception at the media hotel at the College Football Playoff National Championship.
Ferentz has also been recognized as the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Region 3 Coach of the Year, and is the recipient of the Woody Hayes Coach of the Year, presented by the Touchdown Club of Columbus. Ferentz was named both the Dave McClain and Hayes-Schembechler Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year on Dec. 1, marking the fourth time he has earned the league honor.
“It’s like any of our guys getting awards, they will tell you it’s a team effort,” Ferentz said. “You don’t do anything on your own, especially if you’re a head football coach.”