IOWA CITY, Iowa - For the second time in as many days, Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta met with the local media to discuss his football team Saturday. The main message was the same - he's happy with head coach Kirk Ferentz and his leadership of the school's most financially important program.
"If I didn't think he could get it done, that longevity wouldn't be a factor," Barta said about Ferentz's 16 years at the helm of the Hawkeyes. "But I do think he can get it done, mostly because he's proven he can do it, and then currently, the foundation is strong. The student athletes are absolutely engaged. They're still 100 percent behind him and the coaching staff.
"I like what we have returning. We have a three-year starter at quarterback (Jake Rudock) and a backup (C.J. Beathard), who could step in, and who knows, might beat him out. I'm not predicting that. Running backs, an offensive line that are coming back, on the defense, the linebackers will be a year more experienced. I know there's some criticism of that, but we do come back with a good nucleus."
Barta said he has heard from fans and knows there's some discontent with a 7-5 regular season after entering the campaign with high expectations. Iowa failed to beat a FBS team with as winning record and lost all four trophy games, three of those defeats coming at home.
"I understand that there's angst," Barta said. "We're 7-5 and in some programs that would be acceptable. That would be exciting. I stand here today and say, after reviewing it and thinking about it after the season that 7-5 isn't acceptable. Why is that? Because acceptable for us is when we have a chance to win a championship. We didn't get that done."
"I have to evaluate what's best going into 2015," Barta said. "I've been on record during the season and I'm on record today that Kirk is the person to lead us forward."
Barta awarded Ferentz a 10-year contract extension after the 2009 season that saw Iowa roll up an 11-2 record, including an Orange Bowl win against Georgia Tech. The money was guaranteed. If the school were to fire the coach today, he would receive a buyout of more than $15 million regardless of whether or not he was hired somewhere else before next season.
"When you work in athletics, every year at the end of the year, there's an expectation to say how did you do," Barta said. "If you win 12 games, that's easy. It was awesome. Let's keep it going. If you win two games, that's a really challenging discussion. We're kind of right in the middle. But the expectations going into the season because we won eight last year and we finished strong were very high. We didn't meet those expectations. We didn't meet expectations but I'm 100 percent behind Kirk getting us back there in 2015."
The Hawkeyes have won 8, 7, 4 and 8 games in the last four full seasons since Ferentz received his decade-long extension. They'll be at 7 or 8 in '14 depending on the bowl result.
Some fans have expressed their dissatisfaction with Ferentz's assistant coaches. Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis has sat at the center of that fire.
"In any sport that we have, I've been on the record many times, I don't micromanage coaches," Barta said.
Barta addressed his school's postseason possibilities as well here on Saturday. He said the most likely destinations would would be Nashville, Jacksonville or San Francisco with an outside shot at San Diego.
To find out what else Barta had to say about his head coach, sagging attendance in football and the bowl possibilities in the complete video from his press conference: