Kirk Ferentz has achieved legendary status in Iowa City if not for impressive wins, perhaps then his appeal to the female fan base. The Iowa Hawkeye head coach may now be on the cusp of achieving legendary status in the Big Ten as well. The highest paid state employee in the state of Iowa, coach Ferentz’ name has long been rumored as potentially an attractive hire for an NFL football team. His poise may quite possibly be his most endearing quality. Ferentz seems rarely surprised or without full composure. This was possibly never more evident than in his most recent victory achieved on a road trip to Lincoln, Neb. to take on coach Bo Pelini and his Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The game featured Ferentz and his opponent Pelini, whose seat was rumored to be quite warm throughout this football season and may continue to be as recently there was a claim that the Huskers were interested in former Texas Longhorns head football coach Mack Brown (a report that Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst has quelled claiming it was just a rumor). In the game, Pelini, who is often the subject of much scrutiny, was routinely criticized by announcers and even penalized for his demonstrative behavior on the sideline. As Pelini pointed out in a postgame press conference, Ferentz had his own outburst following a controversial play during the game but was not penalized.
The lesson that Pelini, the sixth year coach, could learn from Ferentz, the longest tenured coach in the Big Ten at 15 seasons, is the value of one’s perceived character. It is very hard to compare the personalities of the two coaches for someone who has never met the men. But for a fan or official who tunes in on Saturdays and sees Pelini red hot and angry on many occasions and Ferentz calm and laid back, an assumption of their character is easy to make. Kirk Ferentz is going to get penalized far less because of his perceived character. Ferentz is one of the classiest coaches, not just in the Big Ten, but all of college football and that is part of his allure to NFL franchises.
Ferentz’ name is now considered legendary in Iowa City and the question remains, does he now have a desire to remain with the Hawkeyes or is he possibly prepared to take on footballs next challenge at the next level? Ferentz has not won a national championship, but neither did legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry. Ferentz may have achieved all that is achievable for him at the University of Iowa. He also has graduated his children from college at this point and if an NFL franchise once again came calling, he may be prepared to listen.
If Ferentz’ Hawkeyes are able to defeat the LSU Tigers in the Outback Bowl, Ferentz’ stock may be at its highest point since the early 2000s. A Hawkeye win will undoubtedly have to be credited to outstanding coaching as it would seem the Tigers have a far more talented team than the Hawkeyes. Can Ferentz get more out of team with less? Can he outcoach a great coach in Les Miles? Can his Hawkeyes rushing attack once again show up on a big stage? The answer is yes. The Hawkeyes have a three-headed rushing attack that can find success in this game if the Hawkeyes stick with it and are persistent. A Hawkeye win can once again launch Ferentz’ name into discussion for some of the premier coaching jobs in the country.