Pre-Media Day Notebook

The annual Iowa Football Media has arrived. With the event not ending until late afternoon, HN wanted to make sure something held you crazy Hawkeye fans until the media day copy comes rolling in. Here is a notebook produced from information gained at last week's Big Ten media event in Chicago. Included are Coach Ferentz'z first impressions of AY, his thoughts on Kyle Williams and more.

First impressions might impact a lot of decisions and opinions in this world.

Luckily, Kirk Ferentz allowed Albert Young more of an opportunity to impress the Iowa coach.

"When he walked in on his recruiting visit, and I'll be honest here, I thought he was a good player but I wasn't in love with him off film," Ferentz said. "I thought he was really good, but when I met him face to face that's when I fell in love with all of the things that he has. But Darrell Wilson who was recruiting Albert kept advocating for him. That's how I ended up meeting him."

Young, who verbally committed to Wisconsin before signing with Iowa, doesn't create some of the electricity sent through fans when a speedster or bruising back totes the ball, but he is a very productive combination of both.

"He's a very versatile back," Ferentz said. "I'm not saying he's Ladell (Betts), but he's a little bit like Ladell. He doesn't have that 4.3 speed, but he's awfully productive. If he's healthy, he'll gain yards. He brings a lot more to the table than just being a good football player."

Although he's been injured throughout his Iowa career, Young has turned heads of scouts at the next level. Even after the running back tore his ACL against Iowa State in 2004, at least one player personnel member still was interested in Young.

"A pretty prominent GM was at the game where Alert tore his ACL," Ferentz said. "When we were talking about players the next year before the draft, he brought up Albert's name."

HEISMAN HANGOVER: The only practice Kirk Ferentz has missed in his eight years as Iowa head coach outside of funerals was attending the 2002 Heisman Trophy dinner. Iowa quarterback Brad Banks finished second in award voting to Carson Palmer of Southern California.

Palmer and the Trojans smoked Banks and his Hawkeyes, 38-17, in the BCS' Orange Bowl. Ferentz has admitted to letting the preparation for that game slip.

After Ohio State and Michigan lost convincingly in the BCS last season, many critics of the Big Ten said that conference teams suffer from long layoffs with the league season ending before Thanksgiving while others play into December.

In the last month, the Big Ten adding a 12th team and contesting a championship game has become a hot topic.

Ferentz doesn't believe a new approach will change what happens in the bowls. It's about preparation and match-ups. He pointed to Ohio State's Troy Smith being possibly being distracted on the award circuit last season.

"I would have gone to the Heisman again. The coaches all said, "You've got to go." I didn't want to go," Ferentz said. "But I would have rescheduled the practice. For myself and Brad not to be there, that was a mistake."

IN HIS KAMP: Ferentz has said defensive lineman Bryan Mattison's work ethic and focus reminds the coach of former Hawkeye star Aaron Kampman, who has gone on to an all-pro career with the Green Bay Packers.

Back in 2001, Ferentz struggled to get NFL general managers to look at Kampman. He couldn't even get the former Aplington-Parkersburg product into the combine.

"Why? I'll never know," Ferentz said. "That's the only time that I've ever made a phone call advocating for a player. I promised the guy (at the combine) because I had been there before that he would be at least as good as the bottom 20 percent. He's proven he's probably better than that."

LOOKING FOR OPENING: Brian Ferentz, the son of Kirk, still is hoping to hook up with an NFL team this summer. The former Hawkeye spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons after leaving Iowa after the 2005 season. Atlanta released him after the campaign.

"He's doing OK. He's treading water," Kirk said. "It's a tough thing. He's like an ambulance chaser right now. His good fortune will have to come from somebody else's misfortune."

Brian recently got married and his honeymoon illustrated his level of seriousness towards returning to the NFL.

"His honeymoon was working out with Coach (Chris) Doyle last week," Kirk said. "We're just waiting. We're hoping it could be the Jeff Saturday story, one of those deals."

WHAT WENT WRONG?: Kirk Ferentz thought enough of Kyle Williams that he offered the Illinois native a scholarship. The highly-regarded recruit headlined the Hawkeyes' 2004 class.

It didn't work out for Williams at Iowa and he left for Purdue shortly after arriving in Iowa City. Things got worse.

Williams was convicted by a jury in April of one count of attempted rape, and two counts each of battery and confinement in connection with the attacks, which occurred 90 minutes apart the night of Nov. 29, 2005. He received a jail sentence of 37 years.

Ferentz still shakes his head in amazement when thinking about the fall of Williams.

"Did you ever meet Kyle? He was a delightful personality," Ferentz recently said to reporters. "I don't think anyone could every anticipate that. Obviously, there is something amiss there. The description of what took place, I don't think anybody would do that without something being amiss. I'm not making an alibi. I can't imagine anybody doing that intentionally."

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