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.