Q: The fact that we can't talk to a lot of the freshmen, can't talk to redshirt freshmen. Most of us are writing every day, it kind of limits what we can write about.
Kirk Ferentz: If I could trust you
Q: Do you trust Rick Klatt? He wrote about DJK.
Ferentz: A ghost writer wrote about that.
Q: I don't understand
Ferentz: I have the right to refuse. My problem is when we play Syracuse, somebody sticks a microphone in front of a freshman's face and says, "What do you think about Iowa State?" Can we wait until Tuesday to talk about Iowa State? That's where I struggle.
Q: That's not a part of the growing up process?
Ferentz: It is, but right now, I'm not stifling their growth, that's the way it is.
Q: You mentioned your salary, is that off limits?
Ferentz: Absolutely not. What I'm saying is that I can deal with it. I have no problem. I don't think it's necessary, but I understand it. I'm not na?ve to the way the world works, believe me. I knew when I signed it that it would be an issue.
Q: Was anything written inaccurate, factually?
Ferentz: I don't know. I wasn't privy to the conversation that took place. Opinions are opinions. My opinion is different than other people's opinion sometimes. Everybody has differences of opinion, that's life. I'm allowed to have them too. I don't air them out too often, but every now and then I will. Today, I got the last word, sort of.
Q: You said you would revisit allowing redshirt freshmen to talk to us.
Ferentz: I will. I've been considering it, and I don't know at what point. Saturday would have been a good time for Greenwood. If I just felt comfortable that we'd stick to the story and stick to what's pertinent to the game or human interest, that'd be fine. I can understand why Coach Paterno would hold the quarterback out. In today's world, it's a little tougher. Some guys aren't as savvy as others. I worry about that.
Q: I've brought this up before, fans pay lots of money for tickets. Since you've been here, there have been millions and millions of dollars raised. Those fans don't deserve to hear from the freshmen, or the redshirt freshmen? Human-interest type stories?
Ferentz: I'd have no problem if I were allowed to review the articles before they were published. (Laughs) I don't have a comfort level right now. 80% of our team is non-first year guys.
Q: That's why you get calls to former players, maybe fishing around.
Ferentz: I can't see that connection, no. Because they can't talk to Derrell? That was not coincidental. There's no way you can convince me that was a coincidence.
Q: On the other side, I called Bruce Nelson.
Ferentz: That's wonderful. I think that's wonderful.
Q: They had a good experience here.
Ferentz: I think Drew had a great experience here.
Q: Would you hire him as an assistant at some point?
Ferentz: It's a bit premature at this point, but I have nothing but great feelings about --
Q: Because at the end of that that he would like to be an assistant.
Ferentz: Down the road, I think he'd be a candidate, sure.
Q: Do you think part of the reason he was called was because he was the former QB.
Ferentz: No question. Perhaps it was coincidence. Brad banks if a former quarterback, I don't think he got a call. Kyle McCann, he was available, I can give you his number. Nathan Chandler. Plenty of quarterbacks. I read an article last night that I thought was a great article on Drew. I love Drew Tate, I'll say that.
Q: Doering. Is it a sudden improvement, or just a gradual thing and he's ready to play now?
Ferentz: He played well Saturday. We're not ready to say he's arrived, but he's been making progress all the way through. I thought he improved in spring, through camp. If we thought he was one of our five best, we would have started him in the opening ball game. He's always been in that group of eight to ten guys which has been a little limited with Bruggeman being out. He's been in the pool. He got an opportunity the other day, jumped in and did a very nice job so it certainly helps ?
Q: What's he bring?
Ferentz: He's in his third year, so he's got a little breadth of experience, if you will. He knows, pretty much, what to do, and he's been practicing well. He's done a good job.
Q: You talk about the expectations for these guys, you have no control over that.
Ferentz: I've said many times that I'm concerned about it. It's a sign of our times. There is a lot of money being made right now in the recruiting industry, the pre-draft prognosticating business. I'm all for people making their living, I'll put it to you this way. (Pause) In basketball, you get a chance to see at camps and combines, you see the best of the best of the best going against each other. Football is a whole lot more subjective. No matter how a guy arrives to campus, there's just no guarantee. It's true in the NFL, and basketball too. A guy could be a phenomenal high school player and might just level off. We all know that guy form 8th grade that was just dominant and disappeared by the time he's a senior in high school. It's part of sports, it's a phenomenon that takes place. My concern has always been that it's, I think, especially in this day in age, the awareness of recruiting has been heightened so much. Unfair expectations get thrown on players, nobody more than quarterbacks. Just imagine if Tim Tebow wasn't an outstanding player. The guy is, but just imagine if he wasn't, with all the accolades he had. It's something you're worried about, just like I worry about first year guys, answering questions that are difficult. They were just walking across the stage less than six months ago. It's a lot to ask of the guy.
Q: The school is very proud of your recruiting classes and rankings.
Ferentz: They are, but I say it every February. We're thrilled. We like the group of players that we have. Otherwise, you wouldn't recruit them. Really, you can't know how good they'll become. You can't tell. Dallas was there, Bob couldn't make it, he had the flu, but those guys are great examples. Nobody could predict it. How many people turned down a chance to take Bob in the NFL? I bet they wish they'd used a little higher pick to grab him before the Colts did. Driving in yesterday, Brady with 76 wins out of 100, tied with Staubach for most number of wins in his first 100. Everybody had a crack at him, 6 and a half rounds. So many examples of that. They're operating at a higher level of proficiency of evaluation than we are. We're throwing darts in a lot of cases. You do win championships in February, sort of, because you've got to recruit, yet it's such a crapshoot. It's an interesting study. Go back and look at the top QBs over the past decade. If you use the criteria about how they played and how they've done in recruiting, explain to me why all the NFL quarterbacks don't come from the 6 or 8 glory schools in the country, the elite schools, it's an interesting study. I could elaborate, but just do the research. Take 6 or 8 elite schools and look at their quarterback. How do you explain the MAC having as good of quarterbacks the first five years I was here as anybody in the country? Roethlisberger, Leftwich, Fry, Pennington. How do you explain them having better quarterbacks than the SEC or PAC 10?
Q: The decommit word has come up with you guys recently, what are you telling these guys now?
Ferentz: The first thing I would say is, I can't quote on the statistics, but he number of early commits right now, "commits," which makes you chuckle, is almost double of what it was two years ago.
Q: Joe said today he had 22.
Ferentz: I saw the numbers in front of me about 6 weeks ago. I think I'm correct in saying it's twice as much as two years ago. It's rapidly gone up. I think what we're going to see with that number going up is the number of decommits before February.
Q: He brought that up, he said he had 22 now, that's why making a bowl is important, when you get your last 3 or 4, they see the bowl.
Ferentz: I can remember losing them at the Outback Bowl, losing a guy to Ohio State during that process. It happens. It's part of the deal.
Q: What is your communication like? I know you can't say names.
Ferentz: There's not a set formula. We handle each case independently.
Q: How much is honest playing in?
Ferentz: It's important. It's a factor. I'll put it that way.
Q: If somebody tells you that you see on the internet that a guy is gone, and you thought you had him, no matter what happens, is that guy gone?
Ferentz: We take the whole case into account. It's like discipline. You look at the whole thing and go with what you think is right. Fair discipline with what you think is right. Honesty is a great thing.
Q: Are you in a difficult position, because you don't have signed papers?
Ferentz: One thing about recruiting, recruits have all the rights and recruiters have none. That's just the laws of recruiting. Until we have an early signing day, it's going to be that way.
Q: Are you in favor of that?
Ferentz: If you want my personal opinion, I really appreciate it being done like that. After the 3 weeks of contact, that'd be a perfect time. What it would do is force people to say, "I do" or "maybe I will." One of those deals. Are we holding hands or getting married? That'd be the advantage of it. I think a lot of recruits would really enjoy that, just to get guys to quit badgering them.
Q: That would put more emphasis on in-season visits. Would you maybe open things up a bit?
Ferentz: I can't imagine things being any more crazy than they are now. I know it's possible, I wouldn't rule it out.
Q: Would it help the expectations? If it's earlier, there's not that two month window...
Ferentz: Not really. To me, the downside of the early recruitment is that more mistakes get made, that's the downside. There are certain players like Tebow, pretty good odds that you're not going to be wrong on that one. You probably could have said it two years ago on him when he was a sophomore. Players like that, it's irrelevant. A lot of players in the pool, it's an important period for them. We're all offering early now. You throw it out there, they can take it any time.
Q: This summer, we talked about your top 70 players (on your roster.) What number are you guys at?
Ferentz: I haven't counted them recently, I don't know.
Q: Your point was, at that time, that your top 70 is not going to beat USC's top 70. But you're getting closer to that #70 guy, at least at a few positions.
Ferentz: At a few positions. It's a little tougher for us to survive. It's tough for us to survive injuries or mishaps than in other places. The guys that transferred out of USC, the running back, believe me, we don't have that problem. He wouldn't have been 10th string here. We don't have that many.
Q: How far have you dipped into your roster? Further than you've thought?
Ferentz: We've just done what we've had to do. Reisner being a great example. That wasn't the plan coming in. I thought we had two pretty healthy guys in there to give us a 1-2 punch, but you look up and it's not the case. The good news is he's responded. Michael Sabers has done some better things the last couple weeks, getting him going a bit. That's what you do. Tony's injury wasn't going to go away, so you look for solutions and hope that something good is there. We're seeing good things out of those guys.
Q: Would we have seen as much of Paul Chaney?
Ferentz: Probably not as much, but he's a guy that we felt good about coming out of spring. It's a new position for him. It looks like he's getting ready6 to play some significant time, then there goes his foot, however many weeks that is. He's a veteran of four games, 3 and a half games. He was on our radar screen, for sure, in that top 6 group. We knew he was young.
Q: You were talking about Dan Doering, you cheer for all your guys, but do you want that guy to have that moment?
Ferentz: I pull for all the guys, but this isn't the first time that a player's been in this situation. You take some time to visit with them to make sure. Pretty much the message, there are a lot of things I can't control, you can't control, it's part of the real world. It's not the right world, but it's going to happen. Worse things are going to happen to. I just want to make sure they know how I feel about the situation.
Q: Have you told him not to talk to us?
Ferentz: No, absolutely not, but I've given him permission to use his judgment. At some point ---
Q: He did not, on Saturday.
Ferentz: I understood that totally. To me, that's in his hands. I'll predict he'll be around, but it'll be on his schedule, not mine.
Q: Were we overly nasty with Blake Larsen?
Ferentz: I just think it was a tough situation or a young man who's a good guy. Where I struggled was with all the hype, the hyperbole, he didn't create it, yet it made his time here a little tougher, I think.
Q: He's gone on to be very successful
Ferentz: He's doing very well, a tremendous family, a tremendous guy. You've got 85 scholarships, not everybody is going to be a starter. That's the reality. Everybody comes with the intention of starting. We recruit everyone with the intention of them starting, but for whatever reason, it doesn't always work. You've got to be lucky in a lot of regards. That's where all the downside of the attention to recruiting, you make it tough on an individual. When I got here, my first year on the banquet circuit, everyone asked about Siaka Massaquoi. Everybody. I figured out pretty quickly that this guy must have been very good. Siaka was a delightful guy, but he wasn't good as Ladell Betts. Everyone asked what was wrong with Siaka, he just wasn't as good as Ladell Betts.
Q: It's just one game and you are still just 1-3 in Big Ten, has the ‘B' word come up (bowl)?
Kirk Ferentz: No. No. Absolutely not.
Q: Was last week closer to getting that offensive balance that you want? Albert had 29 touches
Ferentz: For the most part, other than not scoring points, things worked out pretty well. We are hardly perfect, but at least we kind of looked like an offense out there. It felt a little bit better. The ball got spread around, some guys made some plays. You always feel good for anyone that has success, and Albert is another guy that, I suspect he was hoping for 100 yards per game like every back would. That wasn't going to happen this past month, but I can't say enough about how positive he has been with his demeanor and attitude. He brought guys along with him. That is the fun part about what I do. I am around people like that. The worse it gets on the outside, the better they get. That makes it enjoyable, even when it's not enjoyable.
Q: He says he is feeling better than he did during the 1,300 yard season.
Ferentz: He is practicing well, running tough and hard. His attitude is just tremendous. He is doing a very good job.
Q: Going back to Drew for a second, have you ever been worried about how Drew perceives some comments you have made about Jake's demeanor?
Ferentz: No, and he shouldn't. For the record, I like Drew Tate, as a person, I like him, as a player, I like him a lot. I will bring this up again, too. He is in a small class of guys that have led Iowa to a Big Ten title. You don't need a 747 to fill that thing up. What he accomplished under tough circumstances…the biggest thing that hurt him last year was his injuries. He had two big ones. For him to play, that says a lot about him, too. What I like about Jake, they are totally different, but they both are all about winning, about bringing their best every week. They have totally different personalities. It's like coaches. When we are losing, I am too passive, but when we are winning, he has things under control. Or a guy that jumps up and down, when they are losing, they need someone more methodical. It gets down to production. When you produce in the world of sports, that is great. When you don't, you are not enough of this or that. I understand that.
Q: How do you respond to the quotes he gave about the offense being predictable?
Ferentz: My first response…particularly the last part of the season in my mind is etched in execution. That is what I see. It's like systems, to me it gets down to people and execution, that is what I focused on.
Q: Drew insinuated some things about Ken O'Keefe…
Ferentz: I think they have a good relationship. If you read that second article that I read last evening, it probably addresses the whole thing in more detail. To me, it's a more accurate portrayal of Drew Tate than what I know.
Q: But that was after what he saw in the paper…
Ferentz: I am aware of that.
Q: Have you spoken to him (Drew)?
Ferentz: I don't talk to a lot of people in the season. Again, the Drew Tate that I know, that second article that I read, I think that is a pretty accurate picture of the guy. I can see Drew saying anything, but I know how he is and I know his heart. Like all of our former players, I can only think of one or two that are not welcome back here, and the ones that aren't probably don't want to come back here. I can only think of one. There are probably a lot that I don't know about.