Q: What are your feelings about conference agreements with bowl games, other than the way it used to be?
Kirk Ferentz: I haven't really thought much about it. I think, just on the surface, it's a good thing. I think we're fortunate. I can only draw upon my experiences. In 2001 it was a very scary year for us. There was a fair chance that we were possibly going nowhere. It was a little scary, it got a little dicey there at the end. I'm in favor of it. I can assure you that Delaney is really ahead of the game in terms of laying things out. That's the great thing about being in our conference. Maybe somebody's got a better layout than we do, but it's pretty good.
Q: What could you to do to be proactive, as far as a bowl?
Q: Could you…
Ferentz: We need to win.
Q: You've got some pull.
Ferentz: I don't know about that. We got into that promotionally in 2001, trying to make sure everyone was aware of the fact that… there were a lot of things we were selling, not only from the football standpoint, but the fan standpoint. I haven't done a thing this year, and I don't think I need to. The thing we have to do is win a game. We have to finish with 7. Then we have to hope all the factors in play will give us a chance. I'm not worried about, outside of how we play this week, I'm not worried about it. My attitude is that if we deserve something we'll get it. If we don't, that's the way it goes. If we ended up getting shorted, then the moral of the story is that we should have done better, that's the way it works, that's how bowls are, as far as I'm concerned.
Q: If everything is rolling Saturday…
Ferentz: That's a contradiction in terms. For us or for them?
Q: For you.
Q: If everything is rolling for Iowa…
Ferentz: It hasn't happened all year (Laughs) No, the Syracuse game…
Q: One half
Ferentz: That was ancient history.
Q: I'm going to forget the question….
Ferentz: I'm trying my best.
Q: If Albert doesn't have his 1,000 yards, will you see that he gets that?
Ferentz: I swear, I don't even know how many he has, I don't' know how far away he is.
Q: About 125.
Ferentz: Thank you. That would be great if he got them. That means our chances of winning are even better. I'm excited about that. I swear, I don't know many stats right now, other than our turnover ratio is pretty good. Our points per game is good too. I looked at that one. I scan the others, but I haven't looked at our individual stats too closely. The only thing I'm worried about right now is us playing our best. I wasn't even aware of that. If that could happen, that'd be great, but we're not going to set our gameplan on that, we're going to try and get this going. I haven't thought of that adjective, rolling, for our team yet.
Q: For him to be this close to 1,000, how is that, considering all that's gone on.
Ferentz: It'd be great if it happens. Maybe more significant is the over 3,000, one of three guys. Anytime you're in a class of three people at any institution, that's probably a pretty good deal. The guys ahead of him really speaks highly to him, despite the injury challenges. This year, you can make the comparison; not the same as, but a bit like Ladell's yards, hard yards. They've come tough because we're not are la prolific offense, we haven't been rolling. It's easier when you're in a better flow, offensively.
Q: What has he meant to the program?
Ferentz: An awful lot. You look at the yards, the receptions, all that. T he production's obviously but like really good players do, he's meant a lot in terms of intangibles, leadership, work ethic, toughness, perseverance, all those types of things. That's what really good players do, besides have production on the field, they give you that too. He's done that, and from an early age.
Q: To me, a while back, two years ago, he had a little bit of "me" in him, he was maybe a little bit of a "me" player. That's gone now.
Ferentz: Sometimes it's possible that guys may be a bit focused on what they're doing, that type of thing. I've seen that. You want guys, it's natural to the position, a RB or WR. You want good players to want the ball and have a chance to produce. There's a maturity factor that goes with that. I think he's got some great maturity and great leadership, particularly this year. He was a younger guy in 2005, he was a good player, but a younger guy. I think he's really embraced his role this year. When it's all said and done, even though he's over 3,000 yards, my snapshot memory will be of when it was going the roughest for us this year. When the yards weren't coming, how he was with the other guys. That might be his biggest contribution at the end of the day. I'm not minimizing the yards he's gained, but those are the things you appreciate as a coach.
Q: He's been a guy who hasn't put pressure n his teammates
Ferentz: He's been very encouraging. He, like all our seniors, know it's out there, what we could do with our opportunities. They also know it's going to come hard, you have to work for it. Again, when those guys are keeping the message out there, it's more effective than coaches saying it. I've always believed that. Good teams have good leadership, we're certainly getting it. I don't' know if we're a good team, but we're getting good leadership.
Q: Is Humpal's story, medically, one of the more remarkable you've come across?
Ferentz: It's significant. He really, not to minimize any knee injury, but what he had is certainly more than complex. That one's been document. There are very few people in competitive sports that have been able to do what he's done. That part's remarkable. The ankle's a walk in the park compared to what he had to overcome there. That'll put it in perspective for him. He hasn't changed since he walked in here, he's a positive, pretty quiet, but strong personality guy. If that makes any sense. There's a real inner strength with him. I think his teammates really sense that. We're all extremely appreciative of what he's done.
Q: Adam Shada's going to be the most motivated guy this week in practice?
Ferentz: If he can get back. He ran Sunday, but he's playing a position that's like being a RB. Stopping, starting, I'm not pessimistic, but I'm not optimistic that he's going to turn the corner this week to play his position effectively. You never know, I'm 0-2 the last two weeks, with Mike and I thought Pat was down last week. He ended up being able to go. Maybe we'll get a good break, a good bounce.
Q: The field seems to get torn up every week, have you noticed?
Ferentz: Overall, I think our playing surface is pretty good, relative to the ones I've seen and we've been on. Probably the best one I've seen, I thought it was artificial, was Michigan State. It looks like artificial turf, you never see any kicking up. I know what you're referring to. The surface has been pretty good, overall.
Q: The ANF stickers you put on the back of the helmets.
Ferentz: It's just something we threw on there. Coincidentally, we were starting a losing streak the week we put them on. Everybody's more focused on that than the stickers. It's the state of Iowa with 3 letters.
Q: Obviously there was a reason to put them back on there.
Ferentz: I just thought it would be a nice gesture. Ohio State puts buckeyes on their helmets. We put the state map on there. We're proud of being from Iowa.
Q: Has it changed? Someone pointed out that Hayden put it on there because of the farm crisis in the 880s. Someone pointed out that farming, the importance is different now, ethanol, soy biodiesel.
Ferentz: It's just part of where we're at. That's a big part of our economy and our culture. If that's what it means, ANF, I'm not giving up what it means. If that's what it means, that's a great thing.
Ferentz: I don't want to get trouble with the NCAA.
Q: Two senior Des playing their final game, talk about their contributions.
Ferentz: These guys, it seems like they've both been playing as long as I've been here. Three year starters for us. Both, really, have played well since they got in the lineup 3 years ago. I'm not saying they haven't improved, but they've both played very very well for us all three years. Kenny had a bump in the road with his injury a year ago. They're giving us sparks, Kenny's given us some sparks through his time. Kenny is more flashy, If you will, but Bryan's more of a workhorse type guy. Both guys have been very, very productive, giving us great leadership. The say I wasn't worried about their graduation would be minimizing the case, but it was good to see some of the younger guys flash out on the field, too. It shows they're learning from pretty good mentors, and they can carry the torch once these guys graduate.
Q: Is that a similar feeling coming out of 2004, with Kenny and Bryan flashing that season?
Ferentz: They both, when they had opportunities, did some good things. Obviously we had the same concerns back then. All 4 were graduating, we weren't quite sure where we were going. It ended up working out well, the end of the year those guys were playing well. I think we'll be able to transition into the next group. It's always good to see young players, especially where you know you have seniors, do good things.
Q: People, me included, have seen what Ballard and Clayborn have done, and just project that for next year. How hard is it to be Bryan Mattison?
Ferentz: Bryan's, to me, one of the more exception guys we've had in our program. You hate to single anybody out, this whole senior class, we've had a lot of guys. They're both alike, 215, 218 out of high school. Physically, they've got to work hard to develop. Again, Bryan's one of those guys that seems like.. not saying he's Aaron Kampman, but there are parallels, traits that are similar. It seems like the longer a game goes, the better he gets, the harder he works on his opponents, that type of thing. I think he has that and he tries to will his way to success. He's been able to do that pretty well for 3 years.
Q: Coming from a coach's kid.
Ferentz: Yeah. He's got the good genes from Anne too. That helps. She's tougher than Greg, I think. Like most coach's wives. He comes from an outstanding family, and his sister was an excellent athlete, too. They're both very proud of him , and rightfully so. He's got a lot of spunk, a lot of personality.
Q: Do you talk to Greg, at all?
Ferentz: He was up here during their bye week, Illinois. He was up here. Right afterwards, I called and left him a voicemail. I didn't get a chance to visit with he or Anne when they were here. During the season, not so much, but we'll catch up right afterwards. More coach-to-parent, obviously on that one. I just want to make sure they understand he's a special kid.
Q: How tough is that, for Greg not to be able to watch his son?
Ferentz: It's hard. Both he and I did it during high school careers. You don't really get to see kids play high school football too often. I was lucky, I got to track mine for five years, that was nice. The flashback that I'd give you was Mike Devlin, who's dad was a coach, just a great guy. Mike and John talked daily. We'd send tapes to John, which I'm sure Bryan's doing with his dad. John would study those tapes, every play Mike was involved in, and I'm sure Greg's going the same in his free time with Bryan. As his dad, you find ways over long distance to close that gap a little bit. That's one thing about the technology, it makes it a lot more accessible than the old days.
Q: The fact that you've gone down the hard road to get these wins, do you gain anything?
Ferentz: I think so. Like I mentioned, it's a little bit of that second half of 2000 and 2001. Things weren't coming easy then. Come to think of it, things have only come easy one year here, 2002. Maybe a time or two in 2003, but most of our stuff, 2004 was week-to-week. It's awareness of or a good way for guys on the team to understand that's the nature of the league, the way it works. If we're going to have success, we better get used to it. It's going to be a tough road every year, every week. That's OK. If you maximize, you've got a chance to win. 2004 is a better example of the culmination of all that. Nothing came easy that year, yet at the end of the season, it looked pretty good. It wasn't very pretty as we went along. That's the way it is in competitive sport and competitive conference. Unless you're having one of those years… we're not going to have a lot of those.
Q: Some housecleaning, Everson and Satterfield?
Ferentz: Same status. Nothing's changed, if it does, I'll let you guys know.
Q: Practicing with the team?
Ferentz: No. They're suspended from all activity, other than academics. Bowman and Douglas are the same way. Academically, they're supervised, but outside of that, training table, conditioning, all that stuff, off limits right now.
Q: I know it never comes out, but say you're talking to the Insight bowl people, it's you and Purdue, how do you make an argument over Purdue, a total hypothetical.
Ferentz: I defer to out athletic director. (Laughs)
Q: University President, used to be at Purdue.
Ferentz: There you go. Those guys are the professionals, I'm not. I'm just a dumb line coach. (Laughs)
Q: Hayden used to work the phones a lot on that stuff.
Ferentz: That's when everything was so political. It's pretty much up to administration now to handle it. They'll do a great job on it.
Q: A fairly small senior class, how will that affect recruiting? A large number?
Ferentz: At least 20.
Q: Have you changed your philosophy on jucos at all?
Ferentz: No. I mean, I'm open to it, but it's not prominent in our thoughts, it just hasn't been. If we can find a Marshal Yanda, I'll gladly accept those kinds of deals anytime. That's more typical of what we're after, the route we're apt to go. That didn't much fanfare. It was that class, 2005. At the end of the day, if there's a better player in that class than Yanda, three years away from judging it, I'll be shocked. It's not prominent in our thoughts, but we're investigating a couple thoughts.