Ferentz Chasing Fry

On Monday, the University of Iowa announced that Kirk Ferentz had signed his contract extension that will keep him in Iowa City through the 2015 season. He has been a part of the Iowa football program for 20 years. How did his first decade stack up with the longest tenured head coach in Iowa history?

On Monday, the University of Iowa announced that Kirk Ferentz had signed his contract extension that will keep him in Iowa City through the 2015 season.

Should Ferentz remain at Iowa through the entirety of this contract, and I think he will, he will have been Iowa's head coach for 17 years, he will have been a part of the Iowa football program for over a quarter century and he will be pushing for a place on Iowa's athletics Mt. Rushmore.

Take this into consideration; no Iowa coach has ever been a part of the football program for as long as Ferentz has been at this point in time, except for Hayden Fry. When the 2010 season starts, Ferentz will be numero uno as he will be entering his 21st season as either an assistant or head coach.

That's pretty hallowed Hawkeye ground right there.

Ferentz has been Iowa's head coach for ten seasons. Here is a look at his numbers and how they compare with the legendary Fry.

Iowa is 70-53 under Ferentz in his decade as head coach, an average of 7 wins per year. He has been to seven bowl games at Iowa, winning four of them. He has won two Big Ten titles, had an undefeated Big Ten season and three of his teams finished the year ranked inside the Top Ten in the nation.

Hayden Fry was 77-40-4 (7.7 wins per year) in his first decade as Iowa's head coach, sharing two Big Ten championships. His teams went to eight bowl games in his first decade, and Iowa won four of those games. Iowa finished the season ranked inside the Top 10 at the end of the 1985 campaign.

What is interesting is that when I went to tabulate the second decade of the Fry era as far as wins and losses go, I did NOT expect this number: 66:49-2

I don't know your thoughts of that second decade, but my gut reaction was that it was more disappointing than it was much of anything else. There were certainly high points, like the 1990 Big Ten co-championship and the 10-win season that followed it, but there were some low points, especially the disappointing 1997 season and the final year of the Fry era.

I have said this before and it still stands for me; the 1997 Iowa football season was the most disappointing season for me by any Iowa sports team. The 2001-2002 Iowa Men's basketball team is next in line.

So perhaps that disappointment, experienced as an immature 26 year old and looked down the barrel of life from a viewpoint of what is right in front of me is the only thing that matters and being unable to have a ‘big picture' view on the world has corrupted my thinking.

66 wins in Fry's second decade is just four wins off of Ferentz's 70 wins from his first decade.

Like Fry, year's 11 and 12 look very promising for Ferentz, plus Ferentz has something going for him that Fry did not; staff continuity.

The 1990 and 1991 seasons consisted of players that Fry helped recruit, to be sure, but so did Bill Snyder, who had left for Kansas State, Barry Alvarez, who had left for a brief stop at Notre Dame before taking over the Wisconsin job and Kirk Ferentz, who was off to Maine. Alvarez left Iowa after the 1986 season, but the seniors on that 1991 team signed with Iowa while Alvarez was in town. Dan McCarney also left Iowa's assistant ranks in 1989, following Alvarez to Madison.

Ferentz's tenure in Iowa City has been a constant stream of consistency. Very few of his staff members have left for greener pastures, though they have had the chance. Chris Doyle is the best strength and conditioning coordinator in the game and he has been with Ferentz from the beginning. Iowa's recruiting class of 2010 is roughly 50% completed and things are looking very good.

Last year, after Daniel Murray's kick into that good October evening was still rattling around my brain and the euphoria of that last second win over Penn State was still in control of me senses, I thought about the entire generation of children that have been growing up with Ferentz as Iowa's head coach.

Kids that were say nine or ten in 1998 would now be 19 or 20…just like I was in 1990-1991 when Fry was starting his second decade.

I never knew Iowa football without Hayden Fry; we moved to West Branch in the spring of 1979, the same year Fry started at Iowa.

Fry wore the black Hawkeye wind breaker, and every single kid in West Branch had one of those things in the early 1980's…I remember more than a few backyard football games in the rain or snow, and those jackets held up quite well. When they began to wear thin, wear out, get torn or just start to smell, you knew what you were asking Santa for that Christmas. No, I never asked for the white pants or wayfarers.

It was Frymania. It was Hawkeyemania, because Fry took the program from the abyss and gave people something to feel real good about, something to be real proud of.

Today's 19 and 20 year olds didn't have some windbreaker craze, although Ferentz's Belichick-esqe hoodie from the Penn State game was an instant sellout at the apparel shops, but Ferentz has delivered a consistent brand of entertaining and successful football.

To those kids, Ferentz occupies a place in their mind like Fry did for me and so many of you reading this.

When I think about what that means, it's pretty cool, to use a word my six-year old is very fond of and uses quite appropriately.

It's pretty cool to think that Kirk will be around for another seven seasons, or longer. It's pretty cool to think that Iowa football has been set up for the long haul and shows no signs of slowing down.

It's pretty cool to see that Iowa's football program has only had two head coaches since 1979. For whatever reason, I derive a lot of satisfaction from that stability. It sort of feels like the Iowa way.


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