Howe: Ferentz Could Have Done It Differently

Kirk Ferentz sounded off Tuesday on what he felt was unfair treatment of his program by the media in recent weeks. It stole the show at his weekly press conference. Columnist Rob Howe weighs in with his thoughts on the subject.

Let's just call it Whine Fest 2007.

Kirk Ferentz, in his own respectful and classy way, scolded the media for about the first 10 minutes of his weekly press conference on Tuesday. Later, the media shot back.

The Iowa coach wants journalists to stay away from certain practices. They want Ferentz to allow more access to his younger players and assistant coaches.

The whole deal really was unnecessary and could have been better handled. The principles should have just met somewhere else to air their differences.

The Iowa coach took to task a few newspaper pieces from last week that he didn't appreciate. The first was an opinion piece written by Iowa City Press-Citizen columnist Pat Harty (Click Harty to go to column). The second ran in the Des Moines Register and quoted former Hawkeye quarterback Drew Tate criticizing the program (Click Register to go to article).

I can somewhat buy into the reasoning that the coach did this dance on Tuesday to show his players that he had their backs. This was the first time he went out of his way to comment on a media story since a disparaging column involving Damian Sims last year. But I would think at this point, the players know he has their backs.

I also can understand if this was a way to take some media attention and pressure away from his players so they could concentrate on Purdue and not be patted on the back for a big win against Illinois. But Ferentz said he had prepared this little ditty at the end of last week.

And lastly, if Ferentz was looking to change how the media does its job, which he doesn't seem naïve enough to think, he certainly wasted air space.

So, you have to take Ferentz's reasoning for what he did at face value. He said journalists have opinions and so does he. He gave his today, saying tongue in cheek that he gets the final word, meaning he knows the media might criticize his approach today and that things still will be written in the future that he doesn't like. But, he's going to stand up to it.

I certainly don't begrudge Ferentz for doing what he did today. It's his show every Tuesday and he can do with that time what he wishes.

Having said that, he would have been better off talking to these individuals one-on-one. As I mentioned, he didn't change how things were going to be done, so sending his message to the masses doesn't accomplish much.

Instead, the news cycle will be littered with articles on this subject rather than on football. And, yes, I'm part of the problem for writing this. But I feel the need to comment on it being as Kirk put such an emphasis on it.

Truth be told, I had no problem with either of the stories Ferentz mentioned.

Harty's column questioned the progress of the offensive line. He wondered – in an opinion piece, mind you – why Dan Doering was behind a walk-on (Travis Meade) in the same class.

Essentially, Ferentz's beef was that Doering was singled out. You know what? Doering has been singled out since he was a sophomore in high school. He held offers from a who's who of college programs. Many of you have wondered about Doering.

Ferentz said that players shouldn't have unreasonable expectations put on them. I agree. But that's not the way it works right now. It isn't just the recruiting outlets that pump up these kids. If he has offers from a bunch of top flight schools, that justifies expectations right there. I'm pretty sure that Willie Guy came before Scout, Rivals and even Tom Lemming. Many people considered him a bust.

Ferentz brought up going down this road before. He was talking about Blake Larsen, a very highly-regarded recruit that didn't reach expectations. It's happened before and it will happen again and people will talk about it. College football is a huge financial engine and people care.

Speaking of talking, Tate did some last week and it painted the program in a not-so-nice light. Ferentz called it a fishing expedition, meaning the writer was trying to dig up a negative story. Maybe he was. Maybe he wasn't.

I had been trying to get in touch with Drew for around a month. I would have asked him what he thought was going on with the program; could you see some struggles coming this season based on what you saw last year; things of that nature.

It's not a secret that Tate and offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe got into last year. Shoot, Ferentz acknowledged a blowup between the two before last year's Northwestern game during the Big Ten media days in August.

Drew told our own Jon Miller that his words in the Register article were taken out of context. Maybe they were. But maybe he shot from the hip on a subject he felt very passionate about and didn't like it when he saw it in print.

Don't get me wrong, I am a huge Ferentz supporter. You know this if you read my stories and posts. But I'd just rather not see Kirk roll this stuff out at press conferences.

If he really wanted to do something about it, he could restrict how much he gives of his program to the Register. After all, this is the same news outlet that ran the Pheasant Ridge story, which focused on him and his son, Brian, or the piece last year on Sims. It also handled the Nick Patton recruit case pretty poorly.

Ferentz isn't going to limit the Register because he knows it's also one of the best ways to get positive information about his program out to the public, like it or not.

It just sounded like a bunch of whining today from both sides. It really didn't seem like the time or place for it.

Unfortunately, it won't be the last time we see this movie.

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