Bring on the Bayou Boys

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz held an impromptu press conference at halftime of the basketball game Saturday shortly after it was learned that LSU would serve as the Capital One Bowl opponent. Read what Coach Ferentz said about the Tigers, his relationship with former co-worker Nick Saban, the college coaching madness, potential academic issues for the bowl game, facing Saban's Michigan St. team in '99 and more in this Premium Q&A.

Kirk Ferentz: Are we all set Bob (Brooks)?

Brooks: Fire.

KF: That's a tough word this week.


What are your thoughts on LSU?

Either way, we knew we were going to have a tough ballgame. Auburn is obviously an exceptional football team. LSU lost to Auburn by one point.

LSU has got an excellent football team; got off to a little bit of a rocky start like us and have really come on strong and played really well down the home stretch.

I saw the game last Friday, their quarterback looked exceptionally sharp that day, running and throwing. They've got players. There's no question about that. And they're well coached. It's going to be a tough ballgame.

Why don't you go over your relationship with Nick Saban?

I knew Nick when we were both in the Big Ten in the '80s, and then worked with Nick in '93 and '94. We had an office probably 15 feet from each other. We were all in close quarters in Cleveland.

He's an exceptional football coach. We continued our relationship in '99, my first year back was his last year at Michigan State. What he's done at LSU doesn't surprise me at all.

And Belichick was the head coach in Cleveland?

Yeah. Bill hired Nick from, I think, Toledo. He had a great run there. He was a coordinator in Cleveland, I believe four years, and then went to Michigan State.

What is the health of your team?

We're doing fairly well. Pete (McMahon is) the only guy right now, outside of the guys that have had major surgeries. Pete is going to be out here a couple of weeks. We expect him to be back after finals.

It was unfortunate he got hurt. It was right near the end of the ballgame. Hopefully when we start going full throttle, he'll be ready to go.

What did you think of the past few days in the coaching world?

It's been interesting, to say the least. All of us as coaches feel badly to watch the events of what's going on.

Without giving too much commentary, there are a couple of things that catch your eye. Three-year firings make me appreciative of having a long term contract. And it's not for me to pass judgment because I'm not on those campuses. I don't know what's going on. It's cause for discussion.

And maybe as anything as eye catching as anything I saw this passed week is what happened at Mississippi. It kind of in some ways reminds you of what happened close to us geographically last year (Nebraska). As a coach, that makes you look at things a little bit closer. And again, it makes you appreciate having a good solid contract.

Is the climate in college football like the National Football League?

I remember my last few years in the pros, I thought that the pros were getting more like college, and college was getting more like the pros.

As the dollars go up, I guess expectations go up. Patience goes down. It's the nature of the business.

All of us know getting into it that it's business. That's how it works. There's definitely a business side to all of this.

We're all big boys, and you have to take what's out there. If you don't win enough in coaching, you're moving. That's the way that it works.

I hate to bring up the bad, but what do you remember from that '99 game (against Michigan State)?

(Laughs) That's a good memory. Oh my God. Thank goodness he's a friend of mine. It could have been a lot worse. They could have had a 100 that day if they chose to. They had an excellent football team, and we weren't ready to play that game.

Didn't they call (Saban) grumpy around the office?

I don't know who they was. Nick is a very serious, focused guy; very serious; and very focused. And just by the results he gets, you can tell it's effective.

What did you take out of that game?

We needed a bigger boat. Like the guys in Jaws said, right? There was another game that season that made me think the same thing.

Plaxico Burress is running around out there at wide receiver. Ken O'Keefe had the best line. He thought that he was in Jurasic Park when he saw the guy. The guy was just very unusual. There was a reason he was a first-round draft pick.

Julian Petersen was playing outside linebacker for them. They had some guys that could play. They were well coached and had a great run that year.

How much tape work have you already done on LSU?

Our grad assistants have done some work. They were out there cheering for Auburn to win because they didn't want to see their work go down the drain.

We've started breaking some tape down. We've already done an exchange. I wouldn't say that we're half way there yet, but at least we've got the ball rolling a little bit. And I'm sure they've done the same.

Will you do the trip the same way that you did Tampa?

We'll go down the 23rd. There's more opportunity down there with the parks being right there. Hopefully by Tuesday of game week, we can kind of focus on the football game.

We want our guys to enjoy the trip, enjoy Orlando. It looks like a great venue. All the reports we've had are tremendous.

We definitely want to go down and play well, but we also want the guys to enjoy the trip.

When do you start practice this week?

We started full force (Friday) and (Saturday). We got two workouts in. We'll go a couple of times next weekend. We'll have five in by the time finals are over. We'll kind of start after that.

The way that finals fall this year, we have a little bit better opportunity to get some work done before we leave. That's one good break right now.

In regard to finals, if you're already eligible, you're eligible to play in the bowl game or do the finals come into play in there at all?

For the first time, this year, because of the calendar, the potential is there for guys not to be eligible, as I understand it. I'm waiting for clarification on that.

I've never been in that position before, so I don't know how that would work. Do they pull a guy right off of the football field? Do they put him on a bus?

But that is a potential problem. Hopefully it won't be a problem, but it's a potential problem.

And, I have not been contacted by Utah. (laughter)

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