Q: This is your 100th game as a head coach. (Kirk: I read that somewhere.) Take us back and compare the Kirk Ferentz who left to go to Maine and the one who is sitting here today.
Little did I know. Little did I know. I still remember early into my tenure at Maine, I developed a new and deep appreciation for the job that Coach Fry did. I thought he just sat in his office and drank coffee and read the papers. I figured out real quickly that it's more entailed as that. So you learn as you go. I have had some good experiences everywhere. Some memorable ones. It has been a lot of fun. I don't think I ever dreamt of being a head coach for 100 games. So if I can make it through Saturday, that is a helluva deal.
Q: Talk about how some of the experiences have changed you.
You always change. You hope that you are learning. I don't profess to be smart, you just always think about what you are going through and what you are doing. The first time you do anything, it's a learning experience. And as you keep doing things, it's a learning experience, because the dynamics are always changing. So being a head coach at Maine, and my experiences at Cleveland and Baltimore and certainly being back here, you are always learning. It's one of the neat things about this profession. There are always opportunities to keep learning, and hopefully you grow a little bit. Hopefully there are more positives than negatives, but there is some of both, especially if you ask around.
Q: Does anything stick in your mind about that first year (at Maine)when you took the job and that entire first season?
I think Randy wrote the story, it was pretty good by the way…the plane flight? That was not a great way to start. We get our tails pounded pretty good, then we were excited because we had a chartered flight. That was a big thing in Maine, that we were going to fly to Philadelphia. It was a night game, the AD comes out and says after we got shelled and said that we have some bad news. So I was thinking what else could happen? We didn't have a pilot. We had a plane, but no pilot. It was really a fitting start. To make a long story short, we ended up getting back at 7am, something like that, had to borrow money from the priests at Villanova to feed the team at McDonald's. But it was a great way to start out, because the plane didn't crash, and it couldn't get much worse. I developed a motto there, and told my wife that if I ever let anything surprise me, if I ever look like anything has surprised me, just hit me. I try to keep that motto. I think it is a pretty good one, professionally or personally, especially with kids. They always keep it exciting. You learn as you go.
Q: At what point in your coaching career did start to take notes on the sidelines?
Right from the start. Even as an assistant. My memory is not real good, especially during games. If something happens significantly, I will write it down to have some recall and not be senseless, so that I can pinpoint some things to get across.
Q: Was there ever a point in your head coaching career at Maine or Iowa where you felt like things were starting to click for you?
You are always assessing where you are at. It's like anything you do in life, the more you work at it and gain experience. You never get too comfortable, either. You can't improve if you feel comfortable with what you are doing. I am comfortable in my own skin, but I know there are a lot of things that I can still do better. We ask the same of the players, too.
Q: Do you think you have more of Hayden Fry or Joe Moore in you?
Every coach that I has been around has impacted me, including assistants. I have been around a lot of great assistants, too. Look at the guys I have worked with. Coach Fry, Bill Belichick and Ted Marchibroda; that is a pretty good trifecta there, and they all have such great wisdom. But Joe Moore caught me at an early age and impacted me early in my career as a student athlete, and then our relationship really grew. Coach Fry has always been special to me. We were together for nine years, and both he and Bill (Snyder) took a shot on me when nobody else would have, so that is a strong bond, there. I wouldn't be sitting here if it weren't for all of those people. I have always appreciated that and have never forgotten that. It's hard to say. It's like saying that you like one son more than another. They have all had great impact. But Joe caught me young and he ended up being my best friend as well as my mentor, and my coach. So he covered a lot of territory there.