Ferentz, Players Excited About Orange Bowl

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and his team learned on Sunday that they would be heading to Miami to ply Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - There he stood. One of the highest paid coaches in America waiting for someone to ask a question. No one approached him.

Kirk Ferentz has generously held a second press conference after his main press conference. Sunday night, no one took him up on the offer for the first time anyone could remember.

"Too late," one of the reporters said.

"Nothing?" Ferentz said. "All right. Merry Christmas if I don't see you."

We could come up with a list of coaches around the country that might not be so courteous, but really that would be like Charlie Weis taking a shot at Pete Carroll. There's no need. Ferentz's actions continue to stand on their own without being measured by others in his profession.

Perhaps I'm overstating his willingness to meet more with the media at the end of the long day. It's just a snippet of how Ferentz carries himself and stays grounded. It translates to his players.

It's why I believed him when he said he didn't fret over Iowa's bowl destination as many of his fans did the last two weeks. If it was announced on Sunday that he and his Hawkeyes were headed to the Cap One Bowl, he would have been just as happy as he was when he was told the BCS' Orange Bowl invited them.

"We were all hopeful," Iowa's Head Coach said of a BCS berth. "The one thing that I did know is that we were going to go to a great bowl. There was not going to be a letdown if we had ended up in Orlando (Cap One) or Tampa (Outback). But this has worked out beautiful and we're really thrilled."

It's believed that Iowa nudged out Penn State for the Orange Bowl at-large bid and a match-up against ACC Champion Georgia Tech. Most of the pre-bid talk put Iowa in the Fiesta Bowl or the Cap One.

Iowa won at Penn State this year, but some prognosticators, present company included, felt like the Nittany Lions history and legendary coach Joe Paterno might tip the scales their way.

"If it's just on the field, this year, that would be the fair thing (Iowa getting the bid ahead of Penn State," Ferentz said. "There are a lot of factors that go into bowl selections. I have such respect for their program, their football team. They're going to play very well in their bowl game.

"If the roles were reversed right now, we'd be pulling for them. I hope they're pulling for us. We were prepared for anything. And again, I really mean this, we would have been enthusiastic to play at any of the possible sites."

Georgia Tech defeated Clemson in the ACC title game on Saturday night to move to 11-2. The Yellow Jackets reached such heights with an option attack that averaged 35.3 points and 307.2 yards on the ground per game.

"I don't know how we're going to simulate their offensive football team," Ferentz said. "They're better than they were a year ago and they looked awfully good a year ago. They've got some tremendous players."

Running back Jonathan Dwyer led the way with 1,346 yards and 14 TDs on the ground. Quarterback Josh Nesbitt rolled up 991 yards and 18 scores.

"People know what they're going to run and they execute anyway, so it tells you they get the job done," Linebacker A.J. Edds said. "It's going to be up to us to take care of our responsibilities on every play."

Iowa could get a boost on offense with the return of starting quarterback Rick Stanzi, who missed the final two games of the season with a high ankle sprain. He has three practices under his belt after returning this week.

"Rick looks like he never left," wide receiver Marvin McNutt said. "The balls still feel the same. His confidence is still there, obviously. It's been fun to get him back out there."


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