Howe: Ferentz Fighting Losing Battle

Kirk Ferentz opened his Tuesday press conference airing out some grievances with some recent media reports. Senior Writer Rob Howe shares his view of the coach's commentary and adds some opinions of his own in this premium piece.

Since Marty Gallagher stole my idea about writing a column supporting Jason Manson as this week's starting quarterback (he did a great job, by the way, CLICK HERE to read it), I'll move on to something else.

The media's last two meetings with Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz have filled the air with tension. The Good Captain has usually been a pretty easy going guy with a self deprecating sense of humor.

Tuesday, he began his weekly press conference at the Iowa football complex with what he called his "commentary." He felt the need to issue this "commentary" as a result of commentary about his team that he didn't appreciate.

In summation, Des Moines Register columnist Sean Keeler wrote a column after the Indiana loss a few weeks ago that got the ball rolling. When the same writer misinterpreted Ferentz's anger at officials following the Michigan game, the coach felt it necessary to call him out.

It should be said that Ferentz attempted to contact the Register to voice his concerns. Would he have still started out the press conference on Tuesday with the "commentary" had he been satisfied with the response? It's hard to say for sure, but he most likely would have rather talked about football today.

The gathering ended up being one of the shorter Q&A sessions of the year because I think a lot of the reporters were afraid to step out of line. Some of the group wanted to make sure it wasn't their work to which the coach was referring. Ferentz did not name names during his "commentary" but Keeler was not present. He was driving to St. Louis for the World Series.

Ferentz also responded with an edge on a few other occasions during Tuesday's media session after losing it a little following the Michigan game. He was asked then if he felt it was the first time his team had given a full effort all year.

It's probably safe to say that the losing and being out of the Big Ten Championship race in October for a second year in a row plays into the coach being a bit tense. But it's more about Ferentz protecting his players and himself.

Some of the older reporters at the press conference on Tuesday joked about how Hayden Fry would have handled Keeler's columns. The Ole' Texan was known to call a guy out if he felt something was unfair, usually saying something to the effect of "Son, when you pick on my players, you pick on me." It would be followed with something along the lines of "Did you ever play Big Ten football and did you ever wear a jock strap?"

Calling out the media hasn't been a common practice for Ferentz. He's only done it on a few occasions, and it's been deserved. Tuesday, he said he wanted to get those points off of his chest.

So, should the coach take time out of his press conference to focus attention on this sort of thing? Sure, it's his podium.

But, really, will it make that much difference? Probably not. This is the day and age of sensationalism. People crave it. That's why Jim Rome has a big house in "So-Cal." For the record, Ferentz doesn't care much for the media king of athletic antics.

Ferentz isn't about a shtick. He's old school. When Keeler makes an analogy about Damian Sims being like a roller coaster, sometimes taking your breath away and other times making you want to puke, the Rome crowd loves it. They care little that Sims' mother might read that.

Should Keeler care about Sims and his family when working on a piece? No, that's not for whom he is writing. He's writing for his readers and editors.

Should Ferentz care about Sims and his family? Sure, that's part of his family. But again, he's fighting a losing battle.

Ferentz often says that he doesn't know what's going on in the outside world because he's held up in the football complex. If he did, chances are he wouldn't like what he saw.

Can you imagine Ferentz spending time on the Hawkeye Nation message boards? He probably would be appalled by fickleness of a portion of his fan base that wants his coordinators fired and cheers for an Adam Shada injury.

That's our society, where most everybody is an expert and most everyone is a coach – fans, media, infants... Many people can no longer just root for their teams and formulate well thought out, constructive criticism. They fight amongst each other, not even by playing devil's advocate, but just getting personal and mean.

Jon Miller recently re-listed the content rules on the top of our boards because they were turning into lunch time at the local junior high. We've already talked about paying special attention to posts this week because of the impending argument about who should start at QB this week.

It would be nice for fans to discuss these things in an adult manner, but too often the Rome and ESPN factor creeps into the picture, turning it into a battle of second graders fighting for the glue.

Kirk had a point this week. Keeler could have found a better way to call for the return of Albert Young without demoralizing Sims. But maybe the consumers really wanted the slick analogies.

While I understand why Kirk did what he did on Tuesday, I hope he wasn't trying to change the landscape. As my friend Paul Burmeister would say, "That train has left the station."

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