Q: Talking about bowls, do you have any idea where you might be headed?
Kirk Ferentz: I haven't paid a lot of attention, quite frankly. I read the papers, I read them this morning. It sounds like one of 3 possibilities. As I said earlier, we'll be thrilled to go anywhere. If somebody wants to take us, we'll be very appreciative of that.
Q: Do you think your team is worthy of a bowl?
Ferentz: If we lose Saturday, it's probably debatable. Fortunately, it won't be debatable. We'll have the opportunity to go. If we win, I'm all for it. I think it's a real positive.
Q: You just can't turn the nose up to those practices.
Ferentz: Oh no. We don't want to go 6-6, I can assure you that, but if we get the chance, we're not turning anything down. We want to go, it's a great experience. A lifetime experience for the players, that's one of the things about the bowls. The NCAA tournament is probably not a heck of a lot different, I don't think. Even if you're the, whatever the bottom is, 65.
Q: 65, 64 bowl teams now.
Ferentz: If you're the 65th team, it's a lifetime experience. You played in it, you get a lot of great memories out of it. I'm not against that at all, it's a great thing. Obviously you'd rather go in there in a more up-beat mode.
Q: Does what's happened recently make it harder to recruit?
Ferentz: It's too early to tell. I don't think, from the little I can share with you, from a little feedback we get, I don't' think it's affected things at all. It's like years ago, I think a lot of times, prospects look at it and say, "Geesh, maybe I can have an impact faster." That type of thing. We may actually get a bounce out of it. Not that that was our intention, I assure you, but we may get a bounce out of it.
Q: Are you looking at any juco guys?
Ferentz: Not that I know of. I didn't know we were looking at Marshal until he was looking at us. We'll keep an open mind towards everything. For us to just say "Boy, we're going to bring 5, 6, 8 guys that are older and can help us right now." I'm not a great believer in that. I don't' think that's the route we want to take in our conference. I haven't seen much evidence that it works well. The big thing in general is not in that operation.
Q: Hayden tried that in 92. He said it didn't really work.
Ferentz: It was an awful experiment, as I understand it. The only team I know that had any success with that is Illinois back in the mid 80s, and that thing blew up, there's a reason it blew up. I think they're related, the fact that they did. I'm just not an advocate of short-term repair. If you're desperate, that's a great thing.
Q: You seemed to have luck with one or two guys.
Ferentz: It's got to be right not only as a player, but everything else has to be too. You're taking a gamble any time you're recruiting anybody, and you just want to make sure you have a good educated guess that they have a reason to be successful. Most importantly for the player, you want the player to have a good experience as a football player. You want to have them have a realistic chance to get on the field. That's not easy in our conference. I don't mean that in a snooty way, but it's just the reality of our conference. You don't see a lot of it, players having success like you do in some other conferences.
Q: I think you've only had one guy come back, Clinton. Is the door still open for a couple guys?
Ferentz: We're considering everything right now. We'll turn our sights more that way later on. It's not prominent in my thoughts, I guess, right now. We're going through our process.
Q: Can you talk a bit about Ryan Majerus, a guy who's already graduated, what has he meant?
Ferentz: He's done a great job. He hasn't been a starter, but he's been a great role player. Not only as a tight end, 2nd or 3rd tight end, but he's doing a great job on special teams. He's done that for several years. Certainly you have to have your top 22 guys, but to have a good football team you've got to have a lot of guys playing roles, doing things. That's been the challenge for us this year, part of it due to injuries, part of it are guys not coming along the way you think. You can't have enough guys like that. That's true on every level, you have to have guys that embrace their role and do a great job in it. He's done an excellent job in the classroom as well.
Q: When you're in a funk as a team, is there any temptation to throw the percentages out a little bit? Maybe take a few more chances or a few less?
Ferentz: Again, it's circumstances. If that situation had popped up 8 minutes left in the game, we would have gone for it, no question there. We were still about 20 minutes out at that point. We were playing pretty well, for the most part. You're not sure where the punt is going to come down, you're hoping to get inside the 10, and Andy really delivered there. At that given time, I didn't think too hard about it. You're thinking about it before you get to that place, certainly. You're always a couple plays ahead that way. If the clock had been different, somewhere in the 4th quarter, inside of 10, we would have gone for it at that point, based on the way the game was going. I just didn't think it was smart. I thought about it, don't' get me wrong, before we ever called the play, I kinda knew what we were going to do there.
Q: Drew said there were a lot of guys who said to check out of it. Does that bother you?
Ferentz: No, it would have bothered me if he had checked out, then he would have been standing with me the rest of the game. No, not at all. No. You want players to want to go for it. If they don't want to go for it, we've got the wrong guys playing. The QB's job is not to buckle to pressure, just like a head coach can't buckle to pressure. He has to do what I tell him to do, and I have to do what I think gives us the best chance to win.
Q: Did you say anything t him after that, they looked dejected afterwards…
Ferentz: Just, "Lets go, get the ball and let's go. Let's not stall out on 3."
Q: The question of assistants has come up. You've had a fantastic run of keeping everybody together. I ask this every year this time of year, is this the year?
Ferentz: My answer would be the same, I guess. If somebody has an opportunity, that they feel is good for them and their families, I've lived, I don't expect everybody to stay here forever. I'd like to think that nobody would bail out just to bail out, I'd be surprised if that's the case. We have some guys that I'd think might get some consideration from other folks.
Q: I think you said in the past when Brett left to be co-coordinator, you had never monkeyed around with co-coordinator type things, would you?
Ferentz: I'm not big on that, overall. I know there are some places where they've got co-coordinators. I'm just a little fuzzy on how you do it. If a guy's in the decision making process, it's hard to be 50/50 on something. Some places have associate head coaches, co-assistant head coaches, assistant head coaches. I've seen staffs with 4 guys recognized. I think all that stuff makes everything really cloudy. All we're doing is running football plays.
Q: On the flip side, have any of your assistants talked about resigning?
Ferentz: Not to my knowledge, not to me. (Laughs) I hope not.
Q: With Norm's age, he hasn't given you any indication he might retire?
Ferentz: Not to my knowledge. I've told Norm, "If I have to drive you out on the field on a cart, I'm willing to do it." Norm's an outstanding guy, an outstanding coach. Fortunately, his health is really doing well. Keep our fingers crossed.
Q: What did Manson show in practice last week to get the start?
Ferentz: Not so much last week, it's been his whole career. As I've said many times, we don't have a finer guy on our football team, he stands for what this program is all about or hopes to be all about. I just felt like he was the best guy to put out there at that point, at that position.
Q: Was having Herb out a factor?
Ferentz: I think we would have gone that way anyway, regardless. The decision on Herb didn't factor into the decision to play Jason and get him involved.
Q: Talk about the concept of Kinnick North. Eventually, Minnesota's going to be pissed off about that.
Ferentz: I didn't bring that up.
Q: But you know what I'm talking about.
Ferentz: Our fans, historically, have traveled well. Any place that they're allowed to go. Any place they can get tickets. I shouldn't say allowed. You know what I'm saying, where they can grab tickets, our fans tend to show up. If they could get their hands on 20,000 at Michigan, any venue, I think they'd be there. Wisconsin, you name it. Our fans have always traveled well. If there are some seats available, they're going to snag them. We're extremely appreciative of that. That helps us at bowl time, too. Everybody knows that. We don't take that for granted.
Q: Have you seen it where it's been consistently home and home, a rivalry like that, at their place, a 50/50 crowd?
Ferentz: No. It's unusual, probably. Yeah. It's an unusual thing. It's got to be availability though. The proximity certainly helps, too.