Kirk Ferentz, Mack Brown Transcript

Kirk Ferentz and Mack Brown talked about the matchup, the history of their teams, and much, much more. Read it all in a full transcript from this morning's Alamo Bowl pregame press conference.

Iowa, Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, Longhorns head coach Mack Brown.

Kirk Ferentz: Probably something wrong with the geography on that, we're the home team. I didn't get an A in geography, but I do know we're probably not the home team in this ball game. We will wear the black jerseys. We're thrilled to be in this football game, this is a great venue f0or a bowl game. We found that out 6 years ago when we made the first trip down here with this present staff. It's been a great thrill for our players. For all the players on the team, it's the first time they've been to San Antonio. They've had a great experience the entire time they've been here, then obviously we're thrilled to be in a game of this magnitude, to play a team like the University of Texas that is so talented and, so well coached, and has such a steep tradition in football. It's a great honor for our team. We're excited to be here and I think we're all to the point, coaches and players, at both sides, where we're anxious to get to game time. It's been a little bit of a period, you hit Thursday, you s[tart looking at the clock and wondering if kickoff is ever going to come. We're in that mode now, but we're looking forward to the kickoff tomorrow.

Mack Brown: Same with us. We want to thank the city of San Antonio and the Alamo bowl for the hospitality that they've given us. I know Kirk and the Hawkeyes have been here before, but if you have an opportunity to go where somebody wants you to go and you've got a great opponent you respect a lot in the university of Iowa, it makes it a fun week. Our guys have really worked hard over the last two weeks to prepare fro the game, just as I know Iowa has worked. You look at the history of both programs, Coach Evashevski, and we were able to see Coach Fry at dinner the other night, what a great run he had, Kirk worked for him during those glory years he had, Coach Elliot, one of the great athletic directors in the country, he's also done a great job at our place. It sounds like Coach Royal and Coach Fry are coming down for the coin toss which will be really really fun for both Kirk and I on Saturday. You look at these two football teams, their senior classes, they've been so good over the last 4 and 5 years, they've made an impact on college football. You look at these teams, we were both 5-1 with a loss to Ohio State, then some injuries and some turnovers happened, and both teams would have liked to finish differently. I think that's why you'll see such a great football game tomorrow. We knew that we had respect for Iowa, but watching Coach Ferentz, his staff, being around them some this week, watching the discipline and character of his team, it makes us even more excited about the challenge we have in this game. We've been very impressed with them this weekend. I know ESPN is doing the game this week, but I see Bill Curry and Nate Barnett are in, they're great friends of ESPN Radio, that'll be fun to have those guys there as well.

(A question on the former coaches coming down)

Brown: We're so excited about Coach Royal coming down, he is the essence of University of Texas football. He won 3 national championship, your name's on the stadium, he comes to two practice sessions a week. At one time we thought he was not able to come down because there's a bowl game before the game one after ours. He wanted to watch them on TV. He said, "So where can I watch the other games?" we said, "Coach, We'll get you a TV." He's still a football fan, he's still a football coach, he loves history, he had some great games and recruiting battles with Coach Fry. I know he's looking forward to coming down for the day.

Ferentz: We're so excited about Coach Fry being with us as well. He joined us on Wednesday, I believe, he came in with his wife Shirley. Being from Texas, he has some family still living in the state. They'll be joining him, I think some started joining him yesterday, they'll continue to come in today, a lot of family members with him Tomorrow. I think it's fantastic he can be with us and join us for this trip. Just like Coach Royal, Coach Fry had such an impact on football in the state of Iowa, not just collegiately, but the entire state. He really impacted the high schools as well when he came to Iowa in the late 70s. Obviously it was not a time of prosperity. As Jim Zabel said, "It was only 2 bad decades we'd experienced." after Evashevski retired. Coach Fry's third year was the first year the Hawks had gone to the Rose bowl since the 50s. It was certainly significant for Iowa football, but I think it also changed the complex of Big Ten football. I'd like to point that out, 13 years prior to that, it was Michigan or Ohio State each and every year. Since 81, all but two teams have gone to Pasadena now. It was a very historically impacting kind of season, 1981. I really feel pretty safe in saying there aren't many people that could have done what Coach Fry did during that period, and then sustain it for 20 years. It's great to have him, it's even more special for a person like myself, for Carl Jackson, our RB coach who worked for Coach Fry back in the 80s. He was actually with him at North Texas State and went up here with him.

While we're talking about Coaches, not having Coach Chizik, preparing for this game, how does that affect you? Also, what kind of Coach do you think he'll be at Iowa State?

Brown: Obviously, you'd rather have him here and keep your continuity that you had for the two years he was here, because Gene does a terrific job for us. Duane Akina really hasn't changed anything. He was involved in every game plan with Gene over the last two years and with Greg Robinson before that. The other difference before that is that Duane will be calling the defenses. He's been the defensive and offensive coordinator at Arizona before, so it's an exciting time for him and brought some new energy. He's pumped and looking forward to it. When you've got somebody like Drew Tate, I don't know that it's the best way to start out your play selection if you're a defensive coordinator. there's a very unique situation in that there's a 24-year-old guy named Jeff Koonz, that came from Auburn with Gene that helped him as a graduate assistant. I saw Kirk got hired as a very young coach from Jackie Sherral to Coach Fry. I was fortunate in my 20s to get hired with Bobby Collins back at Southern Miss. Jeff is 24-years-old and is going to be a great football coach. He's coached our linebackers, it's been fun for him. We've had him as a full-time coach for a month. He'll leave in January, whenever, next week, and join Gene Chizik. It's been fun to give Jeff a chance. He's done a great job and it'll be fun to see Duane run the defense. As far as Gene, he and Kirk have so many similarities in a state where integrity is so very important. It'll be fun to watch him, he'll do a good job.

After two Rose Bowls where you had no doubt that your team would be ready to play well, is there always a little bit of doubt just because of the nature of bowl games? 5 weeks off, we see teams with momentum struggle and teams that maybe struggled in the end play well in a bowl game?

Brown: Bowl games are different. You see seniors that are used to winning, they want to leave with a good taste in their mouth. It's the reason it's a great match up. I can promise you that both teams have worked hard as if we were playing January 8th. Both groups, both coaches, both players want to win just as badly. If we're not careful, we forget that it's still about the game. it's still about playing, it's still about respect of players, coaches, and teams. It's not just about what's at the end. If we lose that across the board, we're losing the essence of the sport. We're excited about tomorrow. There won't be anybody else on TV but us, it'll be packed, people will be excited, it'll be a great game between the Big 12 and the Big Ten. I think it's got everything that we want.

Kirk, speaking of Hayden Fry, what color is the paint in the visiting locker room?

Ferentz: At the Alamodome?

At Kinnick.

Ferentz: Oh, Kinnick is pink. We didn't bring any paint with us. I doubt they'd let us pull that off.

Brown: I haven't seen it yet, I'll have to check it and see.

Ferentz: Might have been worth a try.

Brown: Theirs is orange.

Mack, you talked about how important a bowl is, but y'all are 18th or so in the polls. How important is it to stay ranked to keep that continuity going?

Brown: I don't think anything's important anymore except being the best you can be and trying to win the game. You look at Michigan, last year they're 7-5, now they're 3 points away from playing for a national championship. We all like to talk about momentum, we like to talk about carryover. Win or lose, we both have to go to work in spring practice, rebuild for some great seniors that are leaving and start over. I don't even know that we have momentum from week to week anymore in football, much less year to year. Yes, it's important for both of us. We all want to win, that's what you do this stuff for. You feel a lot better leaving. Kirk's recruiting will not be impacted by tomorrow, ours won't. We're both already basically finished and headed toward spring practice. Other than it being a great game between two really good programs and a lot of fun people you respect. The one that wins has to go back to work in the spring, and the one that loses has to go back to work in the spring. Somebody's food is going to taste better on the first.

Kirk, are you going to have late personnel changes in the roster?

Ferentz: Yes, we have one piece of news that didn't turn out well. Mike Klinkenborg will not start the ball game. He injured his foot up in Iowa City. We hoped he'd be back in practice this week. He tried a couple times and just can't go. He'll probably be dressed out, but I don't expect him to play, he hasn't had any work at all. Zach Gablemann will take his place. Zach's a 5th-year senior. He's been a great special teams player for us. He's taken all the snaps the last few weeks. He'll do a great job. Mike had to replace an outstanding playing in Abdul Hodge, he did a great job with it this season. We're looking for Zach to do the same tomorrow.

How much does it change with him not being out there?

Ferentz: We won't change anything. We're going to play the way we play. Zach's a very capable guy. He's worked hard playing the middle linebacker position. He's done a great job. He's had a couple good weeks of preparation. We expect him to jump in there and do a nice job. It's not like he's a first-year player. He's been around and done a lot of great things for us the last couple years.

Kirk, 6-6 wasn't how you drew it up this year, but last night as you drifted down the Riverwalk, thousands of Iowa fans were there, as it is almost every year you go to a bowl game. What does that mean to you and the players when you see that no matter where you go?

Ferentz: It's amazing. That's probably the first thing that struck me when I went to Iowa to interview with Coach Fry in June of 81. It certainly impacted me, the first ball game against Nebraska in September of 81. It really hasn't changed. I like to joke, people in Sioux City know who our second team right guard is, where most places don't even know who the starter would be. There's no doubt in my mind that was a big reason why we were in Tampa last year, and a big reason why we're here this year. Our fan support has been outstanding, it's a long tradition. As I understand it, it was that way even when things weren't as good before Coach Fry was there, I heard that from other coaches around the conference. I think we're extremely fortunate. I can't imagine any fans in the world being more interested or more passionate. Our coaching staff, our players, anyone associated with the program really appreciates it.

Mack, can you comment on Sergio playing some offense at running back?

Brown: We probably will not use him. If we do, it'll be on a limited basis. We just wanted to make sure that we moved Henry Melton to defensive end full-time, so we worked Sergio a little bit at tailback in short-yardage, goal line situation, just so we have a big back in that situation if we need it.

Will Drew Tate be wearing a brace on his left hand or not tomorrow? Are the other injured players OK?

Ferentz: We lose Mike, which is disappointing, but the rest of the guys look to be OK at this point. Adam Shada has had a couple good weeks of work. Ken Iwebema has come back. Drew, I think, is very much looking forward to taking that brace off. Any bumps in the road that may have occurred when he had that on, he's not using that as a crutch. Obviously you're not as comfortable. Hands are pretty important to the operation when you're a QB. Even though it's not the throwing hand. He feels a lot better with that thing off. he's had a couple workouts with that off. If something would happen, it happens, but that's his attitude right now. He played the Michigan game with the problem, and if he has to do it again. We're optimistic he'll get through the game cleanly.

Kirk, what would you like to see tomorrow that lets you know that the program is heading back in the direction you would like it to go?

Ferentz: I think it's really pretty simplistic. We spoke right after the Minnesota ballgame. Losing has never been a big thing to me, it's how you play. It sounds cliché, but it's true. I guess I've learned in my career that if you do things well most of the time or try to do them well, you're going to win what you ought to, at least. We just didn't give ourselves a fair chance in the last ballgame. I don't say that to discredit our opponent, they played an excellent ballgame. You give up big plays, you turn the football over offensively, and don't do much on special teams, it's a tough formula, no matter who you're playing, no matter what conference. If we don't start with the basics, playing with great effort, playing fundamentally sound, playing smart, we're not going to be successful as a team or in any season. We can't go back and undo whatever disappointments we may have experienced this past season, we know that. But it's important that we get our feet back on the ground and focus on what's important. We have to do a better job of being focused on the things that are going to make the difference in games and seasons. That's been our approach. We're basically back to where we were in November of 1999, that's been the attitude we've taken this month. Hopefully we'll go out and play a clean football game, play it aggressively and give ourselves a realistic chance to compete against an outstanding opponent.

Mack, Do ya'll have any changes to your injury list?

Brown: No.

Kirk, is the first quarter of this game more important than any other game?

Ferentz: I hope not. You never know the psyche of a team, no matter what happens, you compete for four quarters. We're going to have to, to have a shot. We've been involved in games where we've gotten off to a fast start and not finished, and the other way around. The bottom line, we've got to play hard and play well for 60 minutes, and whatever the score does, we have to keep playing, whether we're in front or behind, you can't worry too much about that. I don't see it as a huge factor. I think how we approach our game is really going to be the most important thing.


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