On The Side with Coach Ferentz, Part I

With no player interviews to save him Wednesday, Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz spent an extended period "On The Side" with the media. Therefore, we broke the discussion into two parts this week. The first installment focuses on the likelyhood of injured Hawkeyes getting redshirts and the discipline of A.J. Johnson. Read the candid inside story in the HN.com premium Q&A.

Have you seen what Matt Bohnet has been doing this year?

Yeah. There was a nice report in USA Today that I saw today. And we stayed in the same hotel when we played at Michigan. I didn't run into Matt or his brother, but I got some reports. I think he's doing a great job.

Are you at all surprised?

No. Matt was a quality guy. I think I said when he left here that we were all hoping that he would stay here. He was a very popular player on our football team; very respected by all of us.

In our estimation, we just didn't see him entering the picture at quarterback. You can probably figure out why now. We were hoping that he would consider a position change, which it sounds like he's making a ton of yards running the football which gives you an indication about the kind of athlete he is.

He's a tough, hard-nosed guy. I thought that he could help us at a different position. I also thought that he'd be a great special teams performer. His response was, I want to be a quarterback. They were consistent on that, his mom and dad, all the way through.

It probably ended up being a win-win situation. He's getting to do whathe wants to do. It turned out really well. I'm really happy for him.

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How much of a boost is it to have a bunch of recruits already committed to Iowa and not having to worry about them?

It's a boost, but your second part is not quite correct. You still have to worry about them. Until they sign in February, you have to worry about recruits.

That being said, we're pretty solid with most of the guys that have committed to us. We're still going to recruit them actively and try to treat them like they haven't made up their minds yet.

Are you still looking at upper teens in terms of how many kids you'll be taking in this class?

I think when it all settles down we'll be 18-20. That would be my guess.

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Of the 12 or 13 surgeries that you've had, I don't know where the number is.

It depends if you include Norm or not. (laughs)

Excluding Norm, do you know who you can get medical redshirts for?

I don't yet. No.

I have a list of about four that are in discussion, at least. I'm not sure what parameters are out there and what's available.

You look at a guy like Dave Walker, I would hope. The guy came off an achilles, played 17 snaps, and boom. That's got to be worth a year, I would think. But I'm not Judge Wapner.

What about Schnoor?

What did he play, seven snaps? If there is a humanitarian aspect to this whole thing, I think they have pretty good cases.

Brian, I think, would have been a slam dunk for a sixth year. He blew that. (laughs) But, that's good.

But based on precedent, a lot of these guys have pretty compelling arguments.

Jermelle, is that being considered?

Yeah, I think it's worth asking at least. That's how we're going to approach it. We'll do everything that we can for him to advocate for him. We'll have to see where it goes.

What's his future of it doesn't work out for him coming back to Iowa?

The thing that I told him the other day is that this does not affect you academically. He's less than a fulll load away from graduation. If anything, he's got more time to focus on that now, which is unfortunate. But first and foremost, he should have his degree in December.

If he's not able to play college football again, I would think that he'll have an opportunity to get back into an NFL situation, somehow, some way. He's going to have to rehab and prove that he's healthy, ect.

The nice thing, at least, 15 or 20 years ago when they did ACL repairs, you were rolling the dice. Now, nothing is a slam dunk, nothing is routine, but we have a lot of great examples on our football team of guys that have come back from those and you'd never know.

So, that's the good news, at least. But it's disappointing, especially disappointing for a guy in his senior year to face an injury like that.

Was it just the ACL or did he sustain other damage to the knee?

He had a little bone bruise, but it's minor. Just like they've done with the other guys, they'll probably wait 8 or 10 days and let things settle down and then do the surgery. They seem to rehab a lot better from that or just recover a lot better.

Albert's was on Friday. He was chomping at the bit. He wanted to come to the game Saturday. I saw him an hour and a half after he got out of recovery, and I thought that he was going to jump out of bed and start walking around.

Do you think changing surfaces has anything to do with (the injuries)?

I don't. But I'm not that smart. I just know what I see. NFL peopple I promise you are going to research all of this stuff. I really think that a lot of it is just breaks of the game. The bottom line is that the body is not built for football. It's not a logical game. Nobody has ever accused the sport of being logical.

Have you talked to Fred Russell?

A couple of weeks ago he passed through here on his way to Chicago. It's very rare when a guy comes back from the NFL and doesn't say, boy these were the best years of my life. The NFL is all business.

I still believe in my heart that he's going to surface.

Is he happy with his decision?

In retrospect if he knew that it was going to work this way, he probably would have stayed for another year. I told him that you can't play that game. It's like a coach. You can't look back and say what if. You make decisions and go.

When it came to making his decision, it was almost a direct parallel to Dallas (Clark), especially with both of those guys being a year older. He had had a great run here. It was justa natural thing for him to do.

Again, I'll be surprised if he doesn't make it in the NFL. It may take him a couple of years to scratch, claw and find his way, but he's a quality football player and a quality guy. There aren't enough of them around.

You investigate off of the field issues with the police. Is it fair to say that there is more to the A.J. Johnson situation than is public?

No. Not really. I'm obviously not pleased with what happened. The timing of it was a real concern to me and then the way that it was handled after.

It's no different than your kids at home or guys on our football team. If you screw up, which we all do in life, I want the facts and I want them real quickly. I'm really kind of struggling with that right now.

Quite frankly, that happened Week 1 and at this time of year I don't like to spend time on things that take me or our coaches that take me or our coaches away from game preparation.

I'll think about it this week a little bit, but I've had no compelling reason to move fast on it. I'm still getting some information, gathering some facts, but I just haven't given it much time.

I'm more concerned with guys that wanted to do things the right way and abide by our policies. That's really where it's at right now.

One thing about discipline and our way of looking at things, depth charts and discipline are totally separate issues. It will remain that way. If you guys ever see me do anything opposite, let me know because you can't operate that way. I won't do that.

That's one nice thing about having a long term contract. (laughs) Tell our players that.It's not the NFL. They won't fire me tomorrow. Maybe a year from now, but not tomorrow.

How much does it help to be getting some depth at WR?

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I would have settled for a couple of starters back in the spring. We've upgraded in that area. Those guys, for the most part, are doing a good job, especially the last two weeks.

We've made some tough catches where guys knew they were going to get nailed after they caught the football. That's to me the big indicator from being a guy to being a guy that can play in the Big Ten.


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