Iowa was coming off an emotional defeat. The Hawkeye hoops team had just fallen to archrival Iowa State after holding what seemed like an insurmountable lead after the first half. Jarrod Uthoff had scored 30 points in the first session to give the Hawkeyes all the momentum. They would end up falling short at Hilton Coliseum, their third loss of the year.
The Iowa hoops squad was far from confident and had hit their low point of the year. Fran McCaffery and his coaches had to keep it intact to go on the run they have. An onlooker with interest in the team's success had been watching from afar. He coined a handwritten letter for McCaffery. That onlooker was football coach Kirk Ferentz.
"He sent me a long letter after the Iowa State game that was pretty impressive," McCaffery said to a group of media members in attendance at his Tuesday press conference. "It was kind of long, which I think made it even more impressive. They're getting ready to play in the Rose Bowl and he wrote me a full page, handwritten letter. So it was a lot of interesting information in there that was very applicable to what we were going through. There is nothing he hasn't seen."
There was assuredly some information in the letter that Fran McCaffery was able to use for his team that spearheaded the run that they are on. They have not lost since, are 16-3 overall, and 7-0 in league play. Those conference wins included road wins against Michigan State at the Breslin Center and over Purdue in Mackey Arena. That is a sure sign of toughness and resilience, something Kirk Ferentz knows all about.
The move made by Kirk Ferentz is pretty common around the program in Iowa City.
"It's been a great ride from that standpoint when you look at how he's helped us," McCaffery shared. "Tom Brands (Iowa Wrestlng coach), same thing, Lisa Bluder (Iowa Women's Basketball coach), we're kind of all in this together, and we all try to help each other. So that's how it should be."
It's a situation that McCaffery has encountered in his other stops but not on the scale that he has seen at Iowa.
"It's a little bit more unique (here)," he admitted. "There is a closeness that exists that I think makes us all feel good. You don't want to feel awkward about approaching someone for help. You want to know that you're going to be embraced, and we all, I think we're all friendly with Bond Shymansky, we try to help him. It's the same for us. It's not just the four coaches I've named. It's everybody."
The communication between Ferentz and McCaffery is nothing new. This wasn't the first time and it's happened both ways.
"No (I was not surprised about the letter from Ferentz)," McCaffery pointed out. "He always sends me notes. If we've had a tough loss, if we've had a big win, and I do the same with him."
"He's really an amazing person," McCaffery added about Ferentz. "And it tells you everything you need to know about him. But he's been like that since I got here. He's embraced me and helped me and helped our program, met with recruits."
That comaraderie on the Iowa campus between the athletics programs seems to be paying off. The successes on the field from football to basketball to wrestling, and other sports, can not be denied. It has been a banner year in Iowa City.