Archive for February, 2009

Extension was only option

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

When Iowa gave Kirk Ferentz a contract extension Thursday, pushing his commitment with the university to 2015, it raised a few eyebrows.

A few people – admittedly not Iowa fans – were mildly outraged. They asked: Why would they do that?

My response: Why not? What choice did they have?

Most of us would admit the Ferentz is overpaid at $2.84 million per season. He ranks among the 10 highest paid coaches in the country and although his achievements are considerable, most people would not regard him among the 10 best coaches.

But I’ve never heard of a university having one of its marquee coaches take a paycut, especially after he won six of his last seven games, upset the No. 3 team in the nation and won a New Year’s Day bowl game by three touchdowns.

You either extend his contract or you begin the process of his removal. Ferentz clearly is a good fit for the Iowa program. He provides stability that other programs lack. He’s done a solid job. He certainly doesn’t deserve to be pushed out (although this is a university that once did that with a basketball coach who had achieved similar success. That was a previous athletic director, the same one that gave Ferentz $2.84 million).

At least they didn’t give him a raise. In the current economic conditions, with people losing jobs and with coaches at other universities in Iowa taking unpaid time off to ease budgets, it wouldn’t have looked good to give Kirk a big bump in salary. Then the outrage would have been justified.

No. 63 is just fine with Ferentz

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

On national football signing date, every coach loves the group of players he just signed. It’s part of the drill. You smile as you face the media and emphasize all the good aspects of the players you recruited, even if the positives are a little hard to find.

On Wednesday, you got the feeling that Kirk Ferentz wasn’t just dutifully espousing the merits of what is allegedly the nation’s 63rd best recruiting class. You got the feeling Ferentz really likes this group. It’s his kind of class – mostly guys rated as two-star recruits by and with only a sprinkling of three- and four-star guys.

Ferentz had a top 20 class once, one loaded with four-star guys and even one rare can’t-miss, five-star prospect. The group of players he signed in 2005 checked in at No. 11 nationally but it’s pretty much been a washout. The five-star recruit, Dan Doering, never has been able to beat out guys with many fewer stars in front of their names. Of the 23 players the Hawkeyes signed that year, only eight are still around and only two of those eight will be coming back next fall as returning starters – Pat Angerer and Kyle Calloway. They were both three-star guys.

As Ferentz noted Wednesday, most of the best players on the team that went 9-4 last fall were mere two or three-star recruits.

“We saw potential in all those guys but it’s really what they did after they got here that made them players,’’ he said.

The one other thing he said Wednesday that makes a lot of sense is that you can’t judge a recruiting class until three or four years down the road. Chances are, when we get to that point the bunch he signed Wednesday will look a lot better than that ballyhooed 2005 group.