KIRK FERENTZ: I’m thrilled to have both Kelton and Tim join the program. Anxious to get their wives over here and their families and get started. So I’ll throw it out to any questions.
Q. Who is going to coach running backs?
KIRK FERENTZ: Brian, last man standing. So that’s the plan right now, yeah.
Q. And special teams?
KIRK FERENTZ: You know, as it stands right now, we’ll probably divide it up a little bit. Though there is some talk about the tenth coach being added, so it gives us a couple options. We have a couple things on the board right now. If we stay at nine, we’re comfortable. If we move to ten, that gives us another opportunity, another option.
I’ll go backwards here for one second. We interviewed six people for three spots, and all six guys were stellar. It was really tough choosing for us. But really happy the way it turned out. I feel like we’ve got good candidates down the road if we get to the tenth spot and we have options available.
Q. Did you make the decision to hire an offensive line coach and then that ends up moving Brian. I guess, how did you come to that conclusion?
COACH FERENTZ: Kind of curious here. Switching seats basically in all regards. Tim most recently coached backs as coordinator, so you can do the math on that one. But I kind of had an epiphany a couple weeks ago laying in bed. I mentioned Joe Moore earlier, Joe Moore was the running back coach at the University of Pittsburgh in March, 1981. A guy, Joe Pendry, who was a line coach there and ended up being a long time coach in the NFL, finished up at Alabama. So Joe Pendry went to Michigan State, took a grad assistant with him.
I was out actually looking for a job at that point. I was going to try to get a GA job. I was close to taking one at Toledo, and showed up at Joe’s house that Thursday night and told him I was going to take a job at Toledo as a defensive GA. I got a $1500 offer from that guy at Toledo. So, anyway, I was going to do that.
He said, forget that, I just became the line coach. So Joe Pendry left, Joe went from being the high school coach that they hired, coach Joe hired in ’76. He went from that to running backs coach to offensive line in one day. It was a one-day switch. So I got to thinking about his preparation for that, and, you know, Joe, for my money, he was the best line coach that ever lived. You know, I think both guys mentioned it. None of us were prepared for any of the jobs we’ve had. That’s part of growth. It’s part of moving forward. So to me it gets back to good coaches can coach. The quality of the candidates, again, just outstanding, and I feel great about Kelton and Tim in their versatility.
Q. Along those lines, when you talk about offensive line, if you brought somebody in and they have a different philosophy, a different style that’s not necessarily yours, you’d have to maybe backtrack, retrain them to do it the way you’d want to. In this case, is this one way to start at the ground level floor and train Tim in your style the way you want to?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, two thoughts. Going back to the last, think about Reese Morgan too. Reese was an outstanding coach, and I made a million mistakes not getting him on our first staff. So Reese came in as tight end coach. But, Joe Philbin, we took some flack for Joe out of Harvard, and he turned out to be a pretty good coach too.
One thing I’d say, there is a real myth out there about offensive line play. Believe me, okay, it’s not like being a Ph.D. in nuclear physics being a line coach. I think that position gets overstated sometimes.
So to me it gets down to coaching, understanding fundamentals and schemes and there are a million ways to do things. And I would venture to say it’s going to be a matter of percentages. But needless to say, it was a question that we had for Tim, and he gave the right answers there, and I think at the end of the day we’re both going to learn for each other, and that’s exciting for everybody involved.
Q. You got a huge referral from Joe Moore when you came to Iowa with him and Hayden. What referrals did you hear from these two hires? Who did you talk to, who did you trust and that kind of thing?
KIRK FERENTZ: A couple coaches have been mentioned already. Jerry Kill, certainly, and Coach Carey at Northern is a guy that I have great respect for. Just the way that program’s been for quite a while right now. Going back, just great respect there.
Then you flip it over and think about Craig Bohl and the job he’s done at Wyoming. Unfortunately, they’re our opening game next year. Great scheduling. So he and Klieman up there, so it starts with the leadership people there, both programs and what the programs are all about.
Then there are a lot of overlapping circumstances in coaching. Coincidentally, somebody I trusted a lot, that maybe is not high-profile in terms of being a head coach, but a coach I respect a lot and have a lot of personal faith in and worked with both guys, that call might have been as important as any because he was in the trenches working with both guys, so that meant a lot to me too.
But all these things coming into play. You mentioned Wisconsin, I was out there a couple weeks ago coming out of a school, and Coach Young who is, I think, one of the great coaches in the country, high school football coaches at Memorial. We’re walking out the door, and he had no idea about any of this stuff, and he throws Tim’s name out. So it was like, hold it. You can’t fake those things.
Then you learn about the things that Tim was doing to move forward in the profession years ago, and that’s just impressive. You know, both guys, I’d say that about both candidates.
Q. What is your plan recruiting-wise?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, that’s something we have to figure out now. But I look at it the same way I do the position versatility, whether it’s special teams, offense, offensive versatility. Both guys are coaching up in several positions. I feel the same way in recruiting.
Kelton touched on that. Recruiting is recruiting. It’s nice to be in an area you’re familiar with, but the principles of it are the same, so I think we’ve got some versatility, and we’ll go back. We’re at the time right now where we’re revamping and looking at our program. It’s going to help to have everybody on board so we can finish those discussions and figure out what else can we do in recruiting. But certainly geographic areas will be a big part of it, and how are we going to reshape that, if at all, those types of discussions.
So now that we have everybody on board and we can start having those kinds of meetings.
Q. Are you thinking about expanding the map a little bit?
KIRK FERENTZ: Expanding or contracting. It could be either way. One thing I always want to make sure we’re doing is really doing a quality job where we do go and not missing those guys that have already been described as good prospects maybe some people drive by. We don’t want to miss those guys. The obvious guys are easy. But the guys that have a chance, the Karl Klug from Caledonia, Minnesota, skinny in high school and all that stuff, but was a football player and right attitude, right program, and it worked out really well for him. So those are the guys I want to make sure we’re not missing.
Q. You end up with four of your five offensive assistants now under the age of 40. Was that by design to go younger?
KIRK FERENTZ: We didn’t have a bar, necessarily. But certainly Ken was a key part of this whole equation when we made the move with Brian. I think it just gives us that veteran presence in the room, the experience. You know, so that, to me, was really valuable. And I think especially with Brian’s transition, it’s going to be very, very valuable. Kind of like Jim Reid the way he helped, I think Phil Parker, a veteran guy that had been a coordinator helping Phil as he got his feet on the ground too.
So those kinds of things you look at, but then after that, really, we had an open mind on pretty much everything. We were just trying to find the guys we felt were really going to embrace our values, our approach, and more importantly add to it, and I think that’s what we’ve come up with.
Q. When you look at the background of both these guys approximate, they both started at Division II, Division III, worked their way up, slept on the floor in North Dakota and gone through the JUCO ranks in Kansas as a coach. How does that add to the character and maybe help enhance what you already are?
KIRK FERENTZ: First of all, $6,000, that’s overpaying. I got $4,000 at Pitt. But I was smart. I was married. My deal was Mary provided for me for two years, and if it didn’t work out, we’re going to do something else. So I had that base covered.
That’s one of the good things about marriage. There’s a lot of good things about marriage. Let me rephrase that. That’s one of the many good things about marriage, okay? But, yeah. It’s not a requisite, but I think it speaks a lot when people start at the beginning and just work up the ladder.
Networking is important, but it’s so overstated and you see too many people worried about networking and worried about all the wrong things instead of just getting better. And that’s what we ask our players to do. Focus on what’s in front of them and get better. So, same thing with coaches. You want guys that are really geared on that.
You know, Saginaw to Emporia, that says a lot right there to me, just in the loyalty involved. But how about Miami to Saginaw? All right. Pittsburgh-Iowa looks like nothing compared to that. So those things speak volumes about the kind of person you are and what you’re trying to do and what’s important to you.
It’s just a window. That’s all it is. It gives you something to look at. The resumÃ©s you look at. The real process is when you start to dig in, get to know the people, and also talk to people that really know the people too. The picture kind of becomes clearer or maybe not so clear.
Q. You’ve had immense respect for Jerry Kill throughout the process. His life has been the same way, from Southwest Kansas to where he was. How much did you talk to him about Kelton and through this process?
KIRK FERENTZ: Probably less than you’d think. And Jerry endorsed him, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard, they want to check that out, and they almost did it, but they did. Everywhere he’s gone he’s been successful. That’s one thing about the resumÃ©s or something about people. Either they’re around success or they’re not. Sometimes it’s out of your control, I get that. But there is a theme sometimes.
So, you know, that’s respect for Coach Kill. So his words certainly carried a lot of weight, but there were other people, too, that people that worked alongside you, that type of thing, what do they say about you, what do they think about you? And former players, those kinds of things. How do they view a coach?
It’s like anything. It’s like our players, what do they do while they’re in town, or what they do when they’re in the dormitory or wherever it may be. We know who they are in our building and on the field, but what’s the rest of the story. Those things are really important, I think, in their success.
Q. Is everybody healthy, eligible, all that stuff?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, you know, as far as I know. I think we’re doing okay. A couple nagging injuries, but nothing out of the ordinary right now that I’m aware of. So I think we’re doing okay.
Q. Any position switches or anything?
KIRK FERENTZ: Ryan Boyle’s going back to quarterback. Have we said that or not? I’m losing track where we are in this stuff. We’ve kind of focused on this. But Ryan wants to go back to quarterback, so we’ve made that move. Not that we’ve done anything football-wise, but I know he’s out throwing the ball, that type of thing. That’s probably the biggest thing at this point.
So, it’s just good to get everybody on board right now. We can get moving on football here a little bit and start pushing for it. Because you’re asking about the passing game. That’s on the board right now being chalked up a little bit. That’s where we’re at on that whole thing.
So we’ll go in with an open book. The defense is a little further along in their offseason study, but that will be the fun right now. Most importantly it’s for everybody to get to know their players, not just Tim, not just Kelton, but also Brian’s going to be with the backs now. So those transitions in the quarterback.
So after the next couple weeks until spring break we’ll get a chance to know our football team, watch them a little closer. Feels like we’ve just finished recruiting, which I guess we’re two weeks out now. So it’s a good time of year for all of us. So we’re looking forward to that, and happy to move forward.
Q. You still have number 10 as possibly special teams or defense?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, what I said is we’ve got options. So, you know, we have a lot of different scenarios, not a lot, maybe three or four that we can go. I read something last night, I’m not sure I understood what I read, but it sounds like it might get tabled or pushed. We’ll have a plan either way.
I think, again, one thing good about the way we’ve done things here, we’ve got a lot of flexibility right now with our staff and with the additions we’ve made. I’m not sure how much special teams stuff Tim will do with the line. I’m understating it a little bit. There is a little more to it than just ABC. But that’s where his focus will be.
But I’m sure Kelton will be involved in special teams. Whether we have one coordinator or split it, I think we can come up with a good plan either way. So we’ll ride that out and see where it goes.
Q. The rest of the staff will stay the same?
KIRK FERENTZ: Yeah, that’s the plan right now. I think everything’s pretty much in place here. If we do go to a tenth, we’ll have options and things to look at and see how that goes.