Notre Dame New Flavor for Ferentz Rumors

Another year, another rumored connecting Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz to a job search. Publisher Rob Howe, who has followed the annual escapades through the coach's tenure writes about the latest speculation.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Kirk Ferentz took his turn on Wednesday squashing rumors he would be open to listening to other job offers, in particular Notre Dame. He followed in the footsteps of Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, Florida's Urban Meyer and Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, who sort of shot down the talk.

Ferentz and Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta held a press conference to discuss and campaign for a BCS berth. The first question to the coach out of the gate was about the Notre Dame opening after several news agencies in Chicago linked him as a possible candidate for the gig.

"First thing I'd say is that's Notre Dame's business, nobody else's, as far as I'm concerned," Ferentz said. "What they choose to do is their business. If they had or hadn't (talked to Ferentz or his reps), I think that would be inappropriate for me to comment on that.

"Secondly, I'll give you the same answer I've been giving people and we give recruits all the time. I've been sitting here for 11 years now, and the people that throw it out in recruiting, my typical response would be to just ask our prospects or any prospects, to ask that question right back to the team that's throwing it out there.

"I know Coach (Joe) Paterno and Coach (Bobby) Bowden have been in their jobs longer than I have, and I know Coach (Mack) Brown has down at Texas. Outside of that, I'm not sure who else is on the list. Bob Stoops, Randy Edsall, two guys that I have great respect for and are friends. We all came in the same year. I think we're the only three survivors from our class.

"I can just tell you what I've been telling people for a long time; I like it at Iowa. I've had paychecks from three different places now since 1981. My first full-time job was here. I'm not a vagabond coach, and I like it where I'm at. I've enjoyed every day -- not every day, but most days, and you know, I don't see things changing here."

The response probably won't be definitive enough for some folks. Other people will speculate that the door is still left open for Notre Dame. If history is any indication, they'll be off base.

It is hard to imagine Ferentz leaving Iowa at this point. He's been here for 11 years, his son, James, is a freshman on the team, and his youngest child, Steven, is still in high school. Oh yeah, and he's one of the highest paid coaches in the country at a university that pretty much gives him all the freedom a coach could every want in a job.

Ferentz rebuilt the program after taking over for Hayden Fry in 1999. After three straight seasons in the Top 8, the team hit's the skids in 2006-07 on the field and off of it. Last year, the Hawkeyes finished 9-4 and they compiled a 10-2 regular-season mark this fall and await a likely second BCS bid in Ferentz tenure.

Ferentz spent nine years (1981-89) as Iowa's offensive line coach under Fry. He's logged 20 of his 54 years in Iowa City.

You never say never in these situations. But I'd put the odds at five percent or less that he leaves for another college job after this season. The only possible reason would be a great challenge like rebuilding the Notre Dame program. He also could try to outrun the bulls in Pamplona for kicks.

Ferentz said several years ago at about this time on the calendar, when his name seemingly always pops up for openings, that he might consider taking an NFL job in his late 50s. He said at that point he might not mind getting his butt shot off in the pros.

Asked Wednesday if he's reevaluated his stance, Ferentz said:

"Yes and no," Ferentz said. "I'm just as apt to go be a line coach somewhere. I really am. Not giving speeches and stuff like that, press conferences, one of those jobs would be all right."

Ferentz, half tongue in cheek, said there was a job opening about a week and a half ago that really caught his eye.

"If it was 10 years from now, I might be applying for that one," he said. "It's about an hour from where we like to vacation. That would have worked out pretty well. It's a lower level in a beautiful town.

"It doesn't fit right now. I'm too young right now. I have to be about 10 years beyond here."

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said on Wednesday that he has not been contacted by Notre Dame or any other colleges asking for permission to speak with his coach.

"I don't necessarily expect to get contacted," Barta said. "It's not an obligation of theirs. Kirk and I have great conversations about every year at this time. He's made it clear from the day I arrived that, "Look, I've been here a long time. I like it here."

"We just signed a new deal last year. I'm not any more or less, anxious or excited than I've been in the last four years. We have one of the best coaches in America. Every year there are probably going to be rumors and every year we sit down and he talks about how much he loves it here. Every year he's stayed here. That's what I hope happens and think will happen this year."

Ferentz has been named in job searches since leading Iowa to the Orange Bowl in 2002. That year, he interviewed with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He did it to see what was out there, leverage more money for himself and staff at Iowa and because he was unhappy with how the athletic administration treated his some of his traveling party for that year's postseason in Miami.

Two years ago, Ferentz was named as a candidate for the Michigan job. Last year, it was the Kansas City Chiefs when good friend Scott Paoli became GM of the franchise. He's been rumored to be in the mix in Baltimore and Cleveland in the past.

"It's like anything else, (reporters) pull out the file from last year.," Ferentz said of why his name pops up so often in these searches. "It's probably as simple as that, I'm guessing. And then the NFL thing because I coached in the NFL.

"Some of my friends have done very well in the NFL. I've always tried to be nice to young people - Scott Paoli, Phil Savage. I always tease them saying I'm always going to be nice because I'll come knocking on your door for a job one of these days. I want that job where they pay a lot of money and nobody knows exactly what you do or what hours you work. I'm going to pull that card when I'm 65."

Another name mentioned more often than his in the Notre Dame search is Ferentz's friend and Iowa alum, Stoops. They share the same agent, Neil Cornrich, from Cleveland.

"That's good," Ferentz joked. "That's a wise choice. I'm all for it. Why wouldn't you be? Bob has done a great job; tremendous coach. I'm leading his campaign. Good for him."

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