Kirk Ferentz: Coaches or players? No, I really don't think so. Let me think before I say that. Nah, I really don't. We are in pretty decent shape there. Things have gone smooth there, that is one area where things have been pretty decent. OF course we have not seen the final grades yet.
Q: The All Big Ten teams came out today.
Ferentz: Yeah. I wouldn't say any huge surprises. I want to congratulate the guys that got honors. For the most part, I thought it was fairly predictable, not only our team but the whole conference. There were a few surprises, but nothing huge.
Q: Were you surprised that Mike Jones made first team?
Ferentz: Yes and no. I touted Marshal Yanda the other day, but the difference is the way the voting is, and that is something I will bring up at our next league meeting. I think they should select a center and then four offensive linemen. That being said, he has had a good year and has been a three and a half year starter and has played well for us, so I am not surprised.
Q: How do players respond to these teams?
Ferentz: If they make first team, they think it's a great selection and if not, they are not as excited about it. It's a nice honor and for the most part, they are fairly accurate. I used to tell guys in the 1980's, and in Marshal's case, his All Big Ten selection will come in April. They will recognize his talents. All that being said, every guy on that list have performed well this year.
Q: You also have some seniors playing in post season all star games.
Ferentz: We should probably do a release on that. We have Scott Chandler and Marshal Yanda in the Senior Bowl, and Drew Tate will accept a bid for the East-West Bowl and it looks like Jones and Elgin will be in the Hula classic. That is a nice representation. We settled that in the last two weeks. That is where it stands now.
Q: What think about Drew getting a homecoming?
Ferentz: If you can write a script you would love to see things work beautifully for him in his home state. You can say what you want about Drew, and we all have opinions, but he has been an Iowa guy all the way through. He has had a tough year, he has been banged around physically and mentally. It would be good if we finished on a high note.
Q: Like McCann did?
Ferentz: That would be great. I would vote for that.
Q: You said something about the program needing to start from scratch.
Ferentz: The tape is what it is. We are what we are right now. We will live with it and we are moving forward.
Q: Do you go back to 1999, 2000? What does that mean?
Ferentz: The reality is right now, based on our last performance, and I don't mean to say this in a way that is not complimentary to our opponent, but we are a below average football team on our last outing and that is what you are evaluated on. We are a team that is in need of improvement right now. As I said Saturday, that starts with me. I have to do a better job. Tapes are my resume, too. Nothing else is, tapes are. I have never been concerned about others opinions, voiced opinions, but I am concerned about opinions based on our tape and that is not a good reflection of the job I have done.
Q: What are you learning?
Ferentz: I am not going to disclose everything, but basically we have work to do. It's pretty evident. Now its my job to come up with some better answers, our job as a staff to come up with answers. Better communicate some things to our team, and that is our job as coaches.
Q: How anxious are the underclassmen to have another chance?
Ferentz: Only time will tell. I would hope that everyone is anxious and I think they are. My sense is that we all realize that we are very fortunate to be in this situation right now. A great thing about being in a BCS conference like the Big Ten is going to this game. We knew in August that we had a sweet deal that way, but you have to do your part. If we had done more of our part, then things would be looking better. But given everything, we are fortunate, especially when I read in the paper when a 9-3 Minnesota team got passed over by the Alamo Bowl.
Q: Do you feel fortunate to be in the Big Ten?
Ferentz: I have coached at Maine, too. I am always tickled sometimes when I hear coaches cry about this and that. There are advantages everywhere. Certain schools and conferences have certain advantages. That is a great thing about being in this league. There is a lot going for this conference, not just the bowls. That is one of the things that I am appreciative of, being in the Big Ten.
Q: There was a big article in the USA Today last week, about coaches salaries.
Ferentz: I did see that. My picture was in there. My wife thought that was a good picture. That was before I started using Grecian formula. What about it?
Q: I am curious what you thought?
Ferentz: I thought it was a well written article. It's an entry point now in collegiate sports. It's one that doesn't have answers.
Q: People focus on your salary now.
Ferentz: I knew before we signed the deal that that would be one of the results. Realistically, I feel good to be at the end I am at right now because I have been at both ends. When I left in 1989, like most coaches, I go way back, I spent the first four years starving when I got out of college. I was supported by my wife which I appreciate greatly, for a few of those years. When I left here in 1989, I took a pay cut to go to Maine and you could question the wisdom in that move. But I have not taken a job for salary. I went to the NFL, if I wasn't the lowest paid line coach I was right next to him. I had a one year contract, too. I have stuck my neck out at times and have been at both ends. At the end of the day, everything in that article, those things are driven by market value, pure and simple. I have had ample opportunities, when my popular rating was high, I could have left a few times for significantly more money, to leave here, when times were bad. I am not apologizing for anything that has happened. Hopefully in 10 years time, people will say that he was worth it. Time will tell.
Q: If you were doing same thing at USC or Notre Dame, would people be making a fuss about it, since its Iowa?
Ferentz: That may be part of it. What it comes down to is that we can say what we want, but this is a business. All of us involved in it know that, we know that the door works both ways, in and out. Ultimately, and this is the NCAA issue, every institution makes decisions on what they want to do. My guess is that people don't pay employees what they don't think they are worth to the university. I think that is usually the general case if you look around the country. But things have changed dramatically, at all levels.
Q: Are you assistants going to be hitting the road?
Ferentz: We have been out a little bit. A couple went out Sunday night. We were out yesterday and today looking at a couple players and we are looking at tape in the office and will have a meeting tomorrow, and Sunday starts the live contacts out there. The next shift.
Q: Can you turn up the recruiting heat, not that its been down, does this get your attention?
Ferentz: I think we have been energetic every year. I think what it does change, and our intention has never been this way, but you can get a bounce out of it because prospects think it's a good program but they could use my help. We will play to that audience, most definitely. For all I know, it's probably true. I stated this a month or so ago, we have really changed our opinion about playing first year players. Believe me; we have already made that message clear to a lot of the prospects. If a guy can help us out, we will allow him to come in and show it.
Q: In hindsight, were there a few guys that might have played this year?
Ferentz: No question about it. It's a little bit like 2001, or 2000 when we redshirted Hinkel and Hodge and those guys. I think they would have given us more juice on special teams. There were three or four more to help us this year, so that is one lesson that I have learned.
Q: Special teams and….?
Ferentz: And backup roles where they are learning. I go back to Anthony Bowman, he has not played a lot but he will be much farther in the spring, like AJ Edds. The downside is that guys might not play a lot, but looking at those two guys, my conviction is that those two will be better suited to be more mature and quicker learners in the spring.
Q: How do those players respond?
Ferentz: I have not talked to those guys at all. Some know who they aer and some don't. That is gone and history. If you want to red shirt, we will oblige that and work around it. Some guys do. But its less now than ever.
Q: Do you foresee any position changes starting to happen?
Ferentz: That is a possibility. My mind is always going, I always have time to think about those things. That could happen in the last few weeks. Rashard Dunn worked with the DL last week. Whether that is full time or not, we will know more next month. He was down in the depth chart and we were thin on the DL. He had a good week.
Q: Could you see Shonn, Albert and Damian doing same thing next year, or do you have to figure out what to do so they can all get on the field more?
Ferentz: As you might guess, somehow we have to find a way to be more efficient with those guys, but its easier said than one. Shonn got hurt, so to count on all three guys being healthy at that position is scary. All that being said, it's fair to say that two of them were on the sidelines more than they needed to be. The injury factor made it tough. We stated working the two back thing and Albert got hurt. In a lot of ways we are like an NFL team. 40 some guys active on Saturday, so one injury can take you out of a package, because you don't have a lot of guys with the same versatility.
Q: You could make the argument that it worked, as you had a lot of production from the position.
Ferentz: Yeah, it did. I thought our rushing yardage was good enough and the offensive line played well. I thought our line got better each week.
Q: There was the perception out there that the offensive line was a problem?
Ferentz: My son Brian, he has his ear to the ground, he told me that and I said what are you talking about? People calling for Reese's head, you have to be kidding me. I will leave it at that (big grunt).
Q: Is your mail bag full?
Ferentz: Not really. I keep a file of the classics, but I have not had many. I had one a few weeks ago; I forget after which game, it could have been one of three. It was a pretty good one. There is a certain profile and I can tell you later about that. I think most of them are well intended. They are trying to offer advice.
Q: What do you say about that? It's the same staff from 2002-2004 and now there is heat.
Ferentz: It goes with the territory. That is how it works. At the end of the day, when your team wins it doesn't matter what you do on the field and a lot of times off the field. When your team loses, or underachieves, or disappoints, then everything matters. It's that simple if you look around the country. If you win enough games, basically unless you are caught cheating, you will keep your job. That is true in a lot of sports. Everything is cute, funny or OK. I know they didn't do this, but….but when you don't win, that is the nature of sports at all levels. It's amazing to me the things that do get overlooked when teams are successful enough. We are not going down that road; it's not worth it enough to me. The bottom line is that I think we know what we need to do, and now it's a matter if we can do it well enough. We will know a year from now. I am supposed to be a good coach, right? We will find out.
Q: Do you have a good staff?
Ferentz: We have a great staff. We have a good group of guys on our team. We need to be better focused. That is my job.
Q: Do we just find out more now? Everyone has a voice.
Ferentz: The one thing I will share with you, because my source is Brian. I don't read all that crap. He made this observation. It's amazing how things that are on the chat boards, or what they call them, how those things are accepted as factual. Brian knows what is going on. He says ‘Dad, I read this stuff and it's widely accepted as being factual information.' Most of it is ludicrous. Times have changed. But I go back to the 1950's. It's interesting to read the old football books. Most of the things are still the same, parents being crazy. You have seen the movies, the Little Giants. That was a spoof. Al Bundy was a coach. That movie where the schools merged? I remember reading When Pride Still Mattered, the Vince Lombardi Florida team, and they had a few knuckleheads playing semi-pro ball and they could have played in the Rose Bowl, but they took $25 to play on a couple of Saturday's, and they missed a chance to play for an undefeated season. It's not just this era. I got off on a tangent.
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