Ferentz Talks Home Field, Impact of Michigan-OSU

Part III of Kirk Ferentz's weekly Tuesday press conference.

The Ohio State-Michigan game should be decided by time you take the field; will you let your players know the score of that game?

To be honest, I have not given it any thought at all. It gets back to an earlier question. Maybe our players are more focused on this, but I have not given any thought as to what the ramifications of that game are, overall. I am not too worried about it. To answer your question, probably, because I imagine they will be curious, and I imagine that they will find out anyway. They all have their little score things on their cell phones, even though they are not allowed to have them in the locker room. Players will find out if they want to, so it will probably be good to just put the score on the board, because it will be on the board in the stadium. Our players don't miss anything.

The Michigan-OSU game on the last week of the 1981 season had some surprising and happy consequences for you. Do you hearken back to that at all?

I allowed myself to think about that over the weekend. That was really a very special day for a lot of people. If that opportunity presents itself, that would be wonderful. But that is almost too Hollywood to have that happen twice in three decades. That would be unbelievable.

Earlier in the year, did you think that your team would be contender for the title in its last game?

I never gave it a lot of thought, this year especially. I have not really done a lot of long distance thinking. I think all of us have been in the mode of looking directly at what is in front of us and maybe that has been the way we have been able to survive. This has all caught up to us real quickly, and quite frankly, I have not spent much time even since Saturday, thinking about the ramifications of a Big Ten title. We are just looking at this as an opportunity to play an excellent football team. I think we realize that it will take our best. We have not played a top 10 football team since Michigan a year ago, at least not at home. It will take a great, great effort like that one to have a chance in this ballgame. That is where we are at, and we will figure out what happens afterwards. I don't think that any of our guys are thinking big picture right now

When was the first time that you used the phrase ‘find a way' this year?

I don't know. There is nothing original about that. I don't even know if it was me, maybe somebody else had it on the board, Ken maybe. Chuck Knoll used to say ‘whatever it takes', that was one of their sayings back in the mid 1970's. Our team is a bit like one of their teams. One of the best teams they ever had didn't get to the Superbowl because they went out to Oakland with one healthy running back and they just ran out of gas.

It's a true saying for us, as that is what we are trying to do right now, is just get the job done.

Can you point to specific reasons why you have won your last 17 games in Kinnick?

We have played well. It's been a little bit more than that, but our guys have played with great energy at home, they have done what they are supposed to do before they get to the stadium. When it's all said and done, it comes down to playing well. And obviously our fans have been a tremendous boost. I said on the teleconference, some of you guys might be too young to remember, but the old bandbox gyms, where the stage and cafeteria is right next to the court in basketball. I think that is similar with the proximity of our fans. It's a tough place for an opponent to come in and play and be focused. I think our fans are knowledgeable on top of their enthusiasm, so they really know when to get into the game. I can't say enough about the energy level they have been bringing into the stadium, especially this year. It has been fantastic for our football team.

Do you think home field advantage is more pronounced in college football than other sports?

At least in our conference, I think it is. There are a lot of tough venues to play in, and we possess one of the tougher ones, I believe.

There are a few places in the NFL, going to Green Bay or going to Kansas City, that is no treat. Playing at Pittsburgh, they are a little rude also…not also, they are a little rude. We are not rude here.

Kinnick Stadium is great, and then you flip it around and Camp Randall is a tough place to play, also. Both teams have strong backing and exceptional fans. I am very pleased that we are playing at home, there is no debating that one.

Do you ever hear other coaches talk about playing here?

Coach Tiller paid us a lot of nice compliments. He got our population base mixed up. Somebody told him we have four million, we are something like 2.6. He said some nice things about the environment we get to play in.

When I was in the NFL, I used to survey anyone that came to our team who came from the Big Ten. I would ask them where was the toughest place to play in the conference and they had no idea where I had been or coached in the past. Every one of them would mention Kinnick, plus one or two other places, but all of them would mention Kinnick. I figured that was pretty good information.

What do you and your coaches do from Sunday to late December?

Outside of soap operas and card games, we will spend the first few days next week trying to focus on recruiting and trying to finalize our list. We have been collecting a lot of senior tapes all season long, but we will take a few days to concentrate on that and make sure that we have our list done the right way in terms of priorities and things like that.

What may be as important as anything is that we will get a chance to rest and just get away. It has been a long grind, and we need to back off a little bit and get some rest and see our families.

After that, we will hit the road a week from Sunday. We will have a couple of guys go out next Monday or Tuesday, and the week after is off and running. Sunday starts straight out recruiting, then we will have bowl prep. It's a busy month, but it's a fun month.

Last year we sprinkled some practices around recruiting weekends when we had prospects on campus and we try to get two opportunities in. Chris will also be working with the guys, but we pretty much have our routine down.

Do the players on your team have any sense of why their uniforms look the way they do? (Note: Hayden Fry modeled Iowa's uniforms after the Pittsburgh Steelers when he arrived at Iowa. The Steelers were the dominant team in the NFL during the 1970's. When Kirk came back to Iowa in 1999, he changed the uniforms back to the way Hayden had them back in the early 1980's)

Probably not. Most of them now don't know at all. The guys a couple of years ago knew that I wanted to change ‘em back, but I don't know that I ever explained it. They are probably mad that we don't wear black pants, right? Black pants, black socks, black shoes.

The Steelers might be the best team in the NFL.

They are doing OK. I did make reference to them the other day in our meeting, their beating the two undefeated teams. The thing I pointed out is that I happened to glance at Sports Illustrated on Sunday morning, and they had their mid-season all pro team, and I noticed that the Steelers didn't have one guy on there, after just beating two undefeated teams. Then the Patriots had Larry Izzo, a free agent out of Rice. A special teams guy, 5-10, 228, undrafted, out of college…perfect. (Kirk was drawing a comparison to his football team)

Have you thought about going to the all black uniforms, as Iowa has had that before?

No. No. I was not here for that. (laughs) Most everything has been done once. It's probably the reason that it is not being done now.

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