Howe: It's His Way or The Highway for Ferentz

Kirk Ferentz held his press conference Wednesday with fans hoping for wholesale changes. Instead, the Iowa Coach stuck to the script that has served him well during much of his 16 years at the helm. As HI Publisher Rob Howe writes, his approach is the best one possible at this stage.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kirk Ferentz didn't win his press conference here Wednesday afternoon. Short of saying he was firing his staff and changing everything he's been doing, or retiring, he wasn't going to.

With none of those things happening, Ferentz's approval rating among his constituency took another hit. Much of what he said was analyzed with a critical comb by a growing number of disenchanted Hawkeye followers. He's picked up a lot of detractors in 16 years running the program and that's the nature of the gig.

Gary Barta said after Jan. 2's embarrassing bowl loss to Tennessee that he's never seen fans more upset than after this year's uninspiring 7-6 campaign. He's served as Iowa's athletics director for nine years during which the team has finished 4-8 (2012) and missed the postseason another time ('07). That puts it being the coldest temperature in perspective.

As Ferentz explained Wednesday, he called a rare mid-January press conference because he felt like "we needed to talk." And by talking to the media, he spoke to the fans. He wanted them to know he was dedicated to fixing their program's shortcomings and performing better on Saturdays in the fall.

The veteran coach recited accomplishments achieved during his tenure and reminded people that his Hawkeyes have rebounded from other low points. He brought up that he and his predecessor, Hayden Fry, were the only ones to serve in the position for more than a decade and there are peaks and valleys. Thankfully, he did not utter the now tired catch phrases "ebb and flow" or "that's football."

If what Ferentz said on Wednesday surprised you, you've not been paying attention for the last decade and a half. The man has stated repeatedly that he believed in his philosophy and how he runs his ship. It was the same Captain Kirk that sailed into town in 1999 hoping to rebuild the program and doing just that.

Some folks might cling to his inference that he was going to review how they played the game and alter some things as hope big changes are coming. If you took that to mean we're going to see a spread offense and non-stop blitzing out of the Hawkeyes, you've, once again, set yourself up for disappointment.

One of the hot-button reaction points from this presser was Ferentz saying he's coaching the same way he did in '99. That served as a softball for critics who feel the game has passed him by. What he meant was that he's sticking to his beliefs of how to run a successful program that has kept him employed here this long.

Maybe Ferentz has reached the end of his run. We'll find out soon enough. At this point, the only way for him to sway mass public opinion back in his favor over the long term is winning more football games.

Perhaps tipping the program upside down and running assistants out of town is what needs to happen to reverse the fortunes around here. It's working at places like Missouri and TCU. But you can find just as many, if not more, examples of it being the last-gasp effort before the boat sinks to the bottom.

Ferentz would have appeased a growing faction of his fan base had he come out guns-a-blazin'. That would have eased outside pressure and maybe even pushed more people to buy season tickets. It also would have been insincere because it's not his style.

This coach needs to fix this thing in the way he feels is best. It might not work but it's even less likely to pan out if he proceeded not believing in his path. It'd reek of desperation.

We'd all like to think that the way we do our job is the right way. Coasting or compromising only lasts so long and typically doesn't end well. It's the same concept with Ferentz.

The coach's best chance at success is to do it his way. If he doesn't win more, he'll be shown the highway. And that was the case no matter what he said Wednesday.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories