Reese Morgan began by saying that "Four years ago there was a lot of adversity concerning the Iowa football program. Many people thought that someone from the South should have been named the football coach at Iowa. But Kirk Ferentz never wavered from his total dedication in building the Iowa program. He is unique among college head coaches due to his integrity, intelligence and humility while remaining very selfless. He is all about the team."
Morgan added "He works harder in three areas than any head football coach that I know:
1. Recruiting - He writes letters by hand to all prospects. That becomes weekly to some recruits.
2. Academic - He chairs the weekly two-hour academic meeting. New academic advisor, Peter Graves, knows about a lot of the Big Ten programs and does not know of any other head coach doing this.
3. Football preparation - Not only does he review every film and tape one every opponent and prospect, he sits in on all the position meetings. For example, when Lester Erb holds a meeting for Special Teams, Kirk Ferentz is there as Les diagrams every play and positioning for the players.
Reese than listed a number of accolades that the team earned last year that were far too numerous for my fat little fingers to write. Truly amazing were all the #1 & #2 rankings of Hawkeye units in both the nation and the Big Ten. Special teams, turnover margin, passing efficiency, rushing defense, etc. are just a few of the areas where last year's Hawks excelled.
When the team buses at the Orange Bowl pulled up to Pro Player Stadium, about 44,000 rabid Iowa fans greeted players with cheers and the Iowa Fight Song. Players were very emotional as they departed the buses. Several had tears in their eyes as they were overcome by this unexpected showing of support. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has fan support like Iowa.
The team achieved all but one of the goals they set before the season. Goals ranging from improved academic performance, better practices during the week, winning on the road etc. were mowed steadily down as the season progresses. The last two goals were to play in and win a 2003 bowl game. USC was a great team.
Kirk and the staff have reviewed the Orange Bowl game many times to learn how to improve the Hawk's performance in the future.
The bowl games proved the strength of the Big Ten as no other conference could match their 5-2 record. This was very rewarding after hearing during the year about the great strength of certain other conferences.
Reese's Pieces, i.e. Tidbits:
Eric Johnson will do a fantastic job as the new Tight End Coach and Recruiting Coordinator. His extensive background under the tutelage of Kirk Ferentz at Iowa and Norm Parker at Vanderbilt has prepared him very well for his position.
John McLaughlin will replace Eric Johnson as Quality Control Coordinator. He was a fine graduate assistant for the offensive line and he will do a great job here, also.
Spring Practice begins March 26th!
Iowa had 8 players at the ‘invitation only' NFL Combine.
Mike Follett has been moved from the Leo linebacker position and could be a factor next year at Tight End.
C.J. Barkema has "eaten his way to the offensive line. The buffet tables are wide open for C.J. now", added Morgan
Blake Larsen has shown great improvement in the past year. There is no question he will be in the two deeps this spring. In fact, after many rumors that Chris Felder was ready to possibly be a starter, Reese mentioned Chris is currently behind Blake.
The quarterback job is Nathan Chandler's to lose. He has the ability to run the same type of offense, including the draws and options. He has one of the strongest arms the staff has seen.
The staff is still seriously considering moving Ed Hinkel to the free safety position. However, Coach Parker feels comfortable with Sean Considine right now, and has his eyes on walk-on Brian Kline, from West Des Moines Dowling.
Robert Gallery will be the best offensive lineman in college football next season. Also, expect WR Maurice Brown to improve even from last season's standards.
This report summarizes Morgan's remarks on Iowa Football, past and present. The report tomorrow will focus on the future. Stay tuned!