Who Will Be Coach of the Year?

Not all Iowa sports journalists agree with Ron Maly that Kirk Ferentz will win National Coach of the Year. Do you agree with Maly's assessment?

Maly and Deace Disagree on Coaching Award

My good friend Steve Deace of KXNO and Cyclone Nation.com doesn't agree with me that Iowa's Kirk Ferentz will win the National Coach of the Year award.

Deace thinks Notre Dame's Tyrone Willingham will take the honor "hands-down."

Sorry, Steve.

I don't agree.

My reasoning is that Willingham lost his chance when his Fighting Irish were upset Saturday at South Bend by Boston College, 14-7. That same day, Ferentz's Iowa team improved its records to 9-1 overall and a sizzling 6-0 in the Big Ten by rolling past Wisconsin, 20-3.

I also think Willingham's team will lose its regular-season finale to Southern California.

"He's already won the award no matter what he does at USC,'' Deace said.

Sorry, Steve.

I don't agree.

The Notre Dame coach—whatever his name is—should be a candidate for National Coach of the Year every season. [Sorry about that, Bob Davie]. Notre Dame has been getting the best high school recruits even before somebody bought Knute Rockne his first coaching whistle. Consequently, Notre Dame's coach—whether it's Frank Leahy or Tyrone Willingham—should always have a talent-laden team that's in contention for the national championship.

That's why I think Ferentz deserves this year's coaching award. The guy inherited a cupboard that, if not bare, was lightly-stocked when he took over in 1999 for Hayden Fry. The recruiting had obviously slipped in Fry's final years, and the records showed it. Ferentz managed to survive 1-10 and 3-9 seasons, and now has the program once again among the nation's best.

If Iowa beats Northwestern and Minnesota, he should be National Coach of the Year. And he should be Big Ten Coach of the Year even if he doesn't beat Northwestern and Minnesota.

Iowa Favored By 28 Points

Sixth-ranked Iowa (9-1 overall, 6-0 in the Big Ten) is a 28-point favorite to beat Northwestern in an 11:05 a.m. game Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. A victory will enable Ferentz's team to match the highest victory total in school history. Hayden Fry's 1985, 1987 and 1991 teams won 10 games each.

Tough Weekend Off the Field

It's getting to the point where the coaches had better start locking the players in their rooms after the games on Saturdays. [Oh, I know, that's never going to happen, and never should happen. That's just a joke]. Regardless, it was a tough weekend around the midwest.

First of all, there was the situation involving Jermelle Lewis, the Iowa running back. Iowa City police charged Lewis with fourth-degree criminal mischief and disorderly conduct at 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

That was about 11 hours after Lewis finished running for 81 yards in 25 carries in Iowa's victory over Wisconsin. It was his first career start for the Hawkeyes.

Police said Lewis kicked another driver's car, causing more than $200 in damage. Wisconsin players—both present and past—managed to keep their program prominent on the police blotter, too.

As the Wisconsin State Journal pointed out, "The Badgers lost a game and possibly their starting quarterback. Their injured star receiver, who is also a captain, was arrested on a tentative drug charge and their leading rusher was stabbed."

Not bad for openers, huh?

Hours after Wisconsin's players and arrived back in Madison after the game in Iowa City, Badger running back Anthony Davis was stabbed in the left thigh during what was called a "domestic dispute."

Police were called to a Madison apartment at 5:30 a.m. after a report of a disturbance. They found Davis with a deep puncture wound in the middle of his thigh. A 22 year - old woman was arrested on a tentative charge of second degree recklessly endangering safety.

In Iowa's victory over Wisconsin, the Hawkeyes' defense held Davis to a career low 16 carries for 34 yards. His previous low was 11 carries for 46 yards against Penn State.

That came after receiver Lee Evans, who is lost for the season with a knee injury but continues to serve as a team captain, was arrested Friday night while driving to the Iowa-Wisconsin game.

He was pulled over on a traffic stop and taken into custody on a tentative charge of marijuana possession, before posting a $100 bond on the misdemeanor charge.

Evans' situation was the first thing Coach Barry Alvarez talked about in his postgame press conference at Kinnick Stadium.

"We were made aware of Lee Evans' situation this (Saturday) morning,'' Alvarez said. "Lee has been a model citizen in our program for four years. I had a chance to visit with him this morning. We will let the legal system run its course…."

Brooks Bollinger, Wisconsin's starting quarterback, was knocked out of the Iowa game late in the first half after being tackled by defensive back Derek Pagel. His future status is uncertain.

Tailback Dawan Moss was dismissed from Michigan State's roster Sunday by beleaguered Coach Bobby Williams after being arrested and accused of dragging a police officer with his car following a traffic stop. Moss, one of the Spartans' captains, was charged with fleeing and eluding a police officer,a felony,as well as misdemeanor drunken driving and having an open container of alcohol. Last month, Williams suspended two players—quarterback Jeff Smoker and defensive end Greg Taplin—for violating team rules. Two other players quit the team.

On Sunday, the school and Smoker's family released a statement saying the quarterback is battling substance abuse and has sought help.

Finally, former Iowa quarterback Jon Beutjer is again in the news, but not for the same reasons as Lewis and some of the others listed above. Illinois Coach Ron Turner said Beutjer will start Saturday's game against Wisconsin. He earned the job for the second time this season after completing 19 of 28 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown last week against Penn State. "I'm ready,'' Beutjer told the Chicago Tribune. "I wake up at night and I'm itching to play."

Ron Maly
Vol. 2, No. 96
Nov. 4, 2002
Ron Maly's e-mail address is malyr@juno.com ]

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