Coach Ferentz: On The Side, Illinois

Iowa's Leader spent a good portion of Tuesday's meeting with the media firing off zingers. He also spoke openly about the slippery slope of head coaching, the importance of Sam Brownlee, Illinois and former Iowa QB Jon Beutjer, the prospects of Marques Simmons returning, recruiting the state of Illinois and more in this weekly feature.

They're already running a list of possible replacements for Ron Turner in the Chicago papers today.

That's kind of the era we're living in, isn't it?

That's got to be concerning as a head coach.

It is. I've always joked about, and maybe it's not so funny, the difference in college and pro football was that in college football you get judged on what you do today or did yesterday. Pro football, it's more about what they project you to do tomorrow.

But in the era we're living in right now it's kind of like following recruiting. This is a major sport also. It's a major topic of interest for a lot of people. It's probably interesting to stand around the water cooler and talk about those things.

So you do notice this stuff?

Oh, we all notice. My name has been on a few of those lists, too. You just learn to focus on what's important, which is coaching the team that you're involved with. That's what Ron and his staff are doing. We're going to have our hands full as a result of that, I'm sure.

Your name has been mentioned for the Florida job.

That's nice. (laughter) I like to go there on an annual basis. (laughter) I'd rather go to California, but Florida is not a bad second prize. We found that out.

Do coaches go into their job situation figuring that they're going to get fired eventually?

Speaking personally, I don't think I'm near that pessimistic. But you have to be realistic. It all works together. With the bigger exposure to Division I athletics, everything comes with a price tag.

Twenty years ago, would you have thought about anyone's symbol being on a game uniform. It's the world that we're living in right now.

I actually started getting that education at Maine. In a I-AA situation, you need the coporate sponsorships.

The world is changing. I've always said that the pro game is becoming more like the college game. And in some ways, the college game is becoming more like the pro game.


Considine and Roth being captains this week, does that have to do with their Illinois ties?

That's part of it. But both of those guys have done so much for so long for us.

Did Illinois recruit those guys?

Nobody really recruited Sean. He was a walk-on. Matt is one of our few guys that was pretty heavily recruited. I think it was us and Nebraska. I think it was us because we were going to play him at LB and they were going to play him as a DE. (laughter)

Is it difficult to recruit out of a state like Illinois?

We had a hard time the first couple of years in the Midwest because our news was out there to be read every day. We weren't having much success on the field, so it made it very difficult for us.

Matt took a little leap of faith. He bought into our vision. He and his family took a leap of faith with us. They believed that maybe things could happen here and they could be a big part of that. And Matt certainly has been.

But to answer your question, I think it's gotten a little bit easier for us to go in there. All of the Big Ten recruits in Chicago and Illinois. We're in the club now I guess because we've won a few games. That helps.

That's a primary thrust for us. We want to recruit the Midwest. And to me being at Iowa, Chicago is where it all starts for us.

Is Illinois over recruited?

I remember when we recruited Rob Baxley. I went out to see Rob. At that time, Oswego was a farm town. It was the darndest thing. It was us, Rice and Northwestern involved with the guy.

I'm thinking to myself, what am I missing here. There's something wrong with this picture. And then he goes on and plays in the NFL. We saw it right.

Now, Oswego, everybody in the world recruits in there. It's pretty thoroughly picked over.


What about Beutjer? What are your final thoughts?

Not many really. The only guys that I'm really personally concerned about are the guys that hit the field. There's a possibility that we'll see him. He's one of the possibilities. Coach Turner says who's going to start the ballgame, after that, anything can happen. Last week, we had to be prepared for Robinson.

From our vantage point, we have to be ready for three quarterbacks at this point and hope that we're on target no matter who is in the game.


Coaches never like to look ahead, but if you win this game you have a tough stretch in November but you'd have a chance to have a big season.

We pretty much are a week at a time outfit. We've been that way for quite some time. But at the break, we addressed what had happened the first five weeks. To me, we're coming down the home stretch for the first half. It's pretty simple. The best we can be right now is 6-2 at the end of the week. We all realize it's going to be a pretty tough chore. I hope our players do at least.


Traditionally, a good running game means success.

You guys all know how I feel. Our preference is to be balanced. That's the perfect world.

But sometimes circumstances dictate the path you take. All I know that it's our jobs is to just try to find the best solutions we can week in and week out. That's what we're doing. Our players have been very flexible and adaptable.

Sometimes you put your personal preferences or beliefs aside. You go with what you can go with. That's what you do.

How much of an awakening has this been for Sam?

I've never asked him, but I've observed him. He's taking everything in stride. In his mind, he figures, hey, I've worked hard. I've taken my shots around here. He has. He's been hit and knocked down and all of that stuff. He figured he could handle that.

Plus, he's a great team member. He doesn't want to let anybody down. He's worked hard because he wants to be a good football player.

I doubt he envisioned this role quite the same way it's panned out. But, you never know.

I wasn't nervous at all about us handing him the ball back there against Ohio State on third and nine. I figured he might make it. He might not. But he was going to protect the ball and be smart with things. That's kind of how we're built right now. Thank goodness he's here.

At what point did you learn his name?

I knew Sam. I make a point to try to know the guys that are tough, especially right off of the bat. Plus, he came from Emmetsburg. He had a great head start coming in. (laughs) A walk-on from Emmetsburg, you better know those guys.

You said before that you knew he could take a hit. He ran against your first-team defense.

I was waiting to get sued by his parents after the last spring game. (laughter) I was waiting for a lawyer to give me a call.

Do you have a guess on Simmons? Is there a chance by the end of the regular season?

A chance because it's a sprain.

Is it a high ankle sprain?

Yeah, the infamous. He didn't just...It's not like the kind...for a running back those are tough. They're unpredictable.

He might have an outside chance the last couple of games, but if the guy can't go full speed at that's a little bit different than being a left guard or something like that.

And you're going to want to see him in practice a little bit.

Yeah, if a guy can't cut and drive...first of all, they put themselves in danger. Now, you've got a player out there at risk of really hurting themselves significantly. Right now, what he has will heal in time. To push a guy beyond that, that's just not something we do. That's not fair to anybody.

Have you given Shelton a look at running back?

He's working some back there. But it's really hard to learn the whole offense on the fly. That's hard.

Hawkeye Insider Top Stories