Coach Ferentz: On The Side 9-28

In his weekly press conference after the press conference, Iowa's Leading Man spent time talking about the toughness of Drew Tate, the heart of Ed Hinkel, Matt Roth being held, injuries to Mike Follett and Mike Humpel and the drive of his son Brian: "The biggest thing were his attitude and perseverance. He was just determined to make it back this season."


What are Follett and Humpel's injuries?

Mike Follett is having some back problems right now. Mike Humpel had a knee repair a year ago. They had to scope his knee this passed Thursday. With a little luck, he'll be back practicing next week without contact and be back also after the bye.



Is Brian (Ferentz) not going to play this week?

Nah. He's got a chance. He's another guy that could have gone into the game last week, was kind of scheduled to go in the game and then for whatever reason they didn't pull the trigger. So, I think we'll probably get him in there.

How much weight did Brian lose throughout that ordeal?

I think that he was in the 230s or 240s. He might have bottomed out, this is sticking in my mind, low 230s; kind of the way he was when he was wrestling as a high school senior. That was the least of our problems at that point.

Was there a time where you thought that he might never play college football?

Oh yeah. Yup.

Why is he playing college football?

First and foremost, he received tremendous medical care.

When we were informed of the potential options, it put everything right back into perspective. You just hoped that he had a healthy leg and was able to play with his kids when he was 40.

But everything worked out according to plan. He has not incurred any major setbacks, which were a possibility and remain a possibility. The biggest thing were his attitude and perseverance. He was just determined to make it back this season. We covered the water about you get to get the medical this year and have a sixth year and all of that stuff. But in his mind he wanted to be back late September or October.

You said that you talked about potential options. What were the alternatives? Amputation? Was that the worst?

Yeah. The joint could have with that type of staff infection been pretty invasive. From that standpoint, it could have been a lot worse. The other thing is just the way that things have healed. He's got some stability in there. He's been able to come back without having to have any other invasive surgery.

At what point did you feel like he was going to make it back?

Somwhere in the last month. The Thursday practice before Iowa State or Kent State, I'm not sure which one.

He was running and doing all of that stuff. Then he did things where you had to...he was running into Doyle with the chest protector. At that point I thought it was realistic

I worry about his leg strength still, him being able to run and compete at this level. We're not out of the woods yet. He might get run over the first play he's in there. (laughs)


Did you send a tape (to the Big Ten office) or is he going to wear a tear-away jersey?

I hadn't thought about the tear-away. That's a good one.

I remember doing (a tape) for Aaron Kampman back in 2001. I think that we had just got done playing Michigan, too. I'm trying to remember. I'm pretty sure it was (laughter).

Anyway, I don't know if it's going to do any good.

So you did send a tape in?

It hasn't gone out yet, but it's going in today. We do that every week. We send tapes of plays that we think maybe need to be looked at.

That must feel weird because that's like whining a little bit to the Big Ten.

No, there are certain things that happen physically on the field that have no other explanation. And, everybody has a hard job. Believe me. I couldn't tell you how much I miss in a game.

But there's a reason that Aaron Kampman drew so many flags. We have a player on our team right now that has a similar style of play. I'm hoping that if we're not getting the sacks, we're getting something close.

Do you hear back from the Big Ten when you send those tapes in?

Yeah. Dave Perry is great. He always gives you good responses. He does an excellent job. All of our officials do. I really do. It's a tough job. I've got a great appreciation for those guys.


How did Norm come out of Saturday?

Really good. That was another positive.

The proof is in the pudding. He was here on Sunday, and watched the tape with the players. He was back again yesterday.

He's looking better every day. Right now, we're really gaining some steam here. The key thing for me this week is not overdoing it. Get him through this game and then maybe start gradually building.

We don't have a game the week after. With a little bit of luck, maybe we'll get him back full speed for Ohio State or at least where he's able to do a lot more.

I don't think that the sidelines are realistic or smart. But as far as having him involved with our team on a day-to-day basis, things are picking up here.

I'm afraid to say anything because it's been such a hard road.

Do you think the players can feel the difference when he's around and when he's not around?

There's a reason why you have nine assistants and a reason why you have a coordinator.

As I've said many times, our players have done a fantastic job in his absence. Our coaching staff, the defensive guys in particular, have done just an awesome job interms of grabbing the reigns and making the most out of a tough situation.

All that being said, there's a reason he's our coordinator. It's hard to replace a guy who just has such wisdom, such experience, and then broader picture just what he brings as a person to our staff. It's hard to minimize that loss. It's tough.

But all of that is selfish. The most important thing is that he's doing well. I think we're finally...this might save his marriage, too. I was starting to worry about that (laughter).

Fortunately, Linda doesn't own a gun. At least it doesn't have bullets in there (laughter) because if it did we'd probably know by now. Whew. I think they've had enough private time (laughter).


You guys probably don't like the term must-win.

I think Marv Levy said it best, World War II was a must-win (laughter).

Is there a feeling though this week that maybe...?

This game is real important for both teams. I read Coach Smith's comments today, and both teams are in a very similar circumstance. It would do us a lot of good to win just to get bacl on the winning track and feeling better about ourselves.

The season is not over yet. If we can win this one and continue to improve, that the most important thing. Hopefully it will be enough where we deserve to win, too.


Where does your respect for him come from?

Where do you want to start? The commitment to the football team. The way that he does things. His competitive nature. His mental and physical toughness. It's all the things that you hope to have in a football player. He embodies those things.

Like Bob Sanders, he's everything but tall. That's not going to change. But he's got all of those intangibles that you're looking for.

Does he handle that he has a lot of people watching what he does?

This is little league compared to Texas high school football (laughs) as far as criticism and all of that kind of stuff. He's been down that road. And then his dad was the coach and all of that stuff. He can handle whatever comes his way.

Have you ever had a quarterback get his helmet ripped off and still look down the field to make a play?

That was a pretty powerful picture. You asked me why I like him.

It's like Bob Sanders. Wasn't there a play where Bob's helmet came off and he made a tackle? When you get guys with that kind of focus and intensity, people will follow a guy like that.


Can you talk about Ed Hinkel's hands?

Finkel? Ed Finkel? He's a pretty good player.

I'll go back again, Joe Moore, gave me the nickel scouting report on him. Joe liked Hinkel since he was in the 8th grade or ninth grade. But his thing was that "I don't know if he'll be big enough for you." I said, "Don't worry about that. We're not a size, speed team."

He fit right in with us. He's a football player. He's just a tough minded, hard nosed football player.

I don't know if you knew that he was No. 1 on the ESPN's Top 10 plays?

By the time I got home Saturday night, my son Steve told me that. I saw on Sunday, Berman's thing, he dropped to sixth on that one. But that's still pretty good.

How important is he to the team? He does a lot of things on special teams in addition to receiving.

We missed him last year. He quietly played every game for us in 2002 on a pretty good ball club. It killed him last year to be out as much as he was.

He's just one of those guys. He doesn't say much. He doesn't draw attention to himself. He just plays good football.

With out offensive situation right now, with our lack of experience, I don't even want to think about where we'd be without him. And he's good with the other players; not in a loud fashion. But when you're around guys that know how to play, it makes you feel better.

When he was a freshman wasn't there some thought that he might play defense, too?

He was playing free safety. I'm not going to go into details, but it hasn't been that long since I thought about him being our free safety after Sean or instead of Sean if Sean is our strong, those kinds of combinations.

It was one of those days early in camp when we were out in the bubble there were three guys that could actually run at receiver. I asked Ed if he would mind running at receiver. He's never come back.

It wasn't like he had to be this or that. He might have been a free safety. But it's worked out pretty well. There's no sense going back on that one.


Had you heard people make criticisms of players who in there eyes...anything address at players?

Yeah, but I want to qualify it in that I'm not just talking like the last two weeks, although losing magnifies, which is natural. What about this guy, that guy? I understand that.

The only reason that I wanted to say what I said is because I just think it's really dangerous territory to tread on because there are so many factors involved.

In my opinion, there are a lot more important things than starting at Iowa. I've got a son on the team. I'm glad that he got a chance to play six games. I hope he gets to play more. But if he graduated and acted like a good person, a person that all of us could be proud of, that to me is more important.

This is a broad range thing at many of the I-Clubs I've been at or talk shows I've done, which I love to do, sponsored by Carlos O'Kelly's (laughter), those are natural questions. I just hope that people realize that just because a guy came in as a 4-chip, super-duper recruit, it doesn't mean the guy is going to come in here...there might be a Bob Sanders in front of him.

Who the hell is Bob Sanders? How did he get here? What am I doing behind him? Where an I going? You just never know.

Or, it might not work out. Some guys just kind of level off. I coached three guys in the 80s that didn't play until their fifth year and ended up going to the NFL. One guy was a first rounder, Holstrom.

But when it's all said and done, it's really about the kind of person they are. That's how I look at it. All that being said, I understand that every guy coming here has aspirations of starting at Iowa for four years and then playing 10 years in the NFL. But we all know that that's not realistic.

I know you're not on the Internet but you have assistant who are.

There are guys that are paid to do that, yeah.

When you have guys like Bone Crusher coming in and The Big Human coming in, that gets blown up pretty quickly.

It concerns me. I'm not naive. I know this isn't the '70s. There was not Internet then. There weren't recruiting services, I don't think. Tom (Lemming) used to do it out of his, he was a postman.

In this day and age, (prep players being given catchy nicknames) is going to happen. There's a lot of money being made off of this recruiting stuff. They're doing OK with that thing. Why not build it up?

You talk about expectations being huge, that might be where it starts?

It is.

It's not me, I'll tell you that?

No, I know. It mushrooms. It's more fun if the guy has a nickname.

And they have to live up to it.

And a lot of those are accurate. Most of those guys are going to Michigan, LSU, USC.

Why don't you criticize your players?

If Drew throws an interception, which he's done that he shouldn't have, I'll say that. He has no problem with that. That's part of the growing process.

But to me, players win games and coaches lose them. That's kind of how I was raised.

The thing that I see is all of the effort that the guys put in. All the hours they put in behind the scenes that I don't think everybody is fully aware of. You can't heelp but respect them. That puts it all in perspective.

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