Last season, Kirk Ferentz, the longest-tenured coach in the Big Ten, had one of his best seasons yet.

Ferentz, in his 18th season of coaching at Iowa, led his team to an undefeated record during the 2015 regular season. The Hawkeyes earned a spot in the Rose Bowl, where the Hawkeyes were defeated handily, 45-16, after losing to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Given their recent success, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes (3-3 Big Ten, 5-4 overall) probably couldn’t have predicted the drop-off this season. Iowa has struggled to a middling 5-4 record after losing to teams like North Dakota State and Northwestern earlier this year.

Though Iowa is a three-touchdown underdog against Michigan this Saturday, it has the opportunity to play at home in Kinnick Stadium, which will be eager to welcome the Wolverines for the first time since 2013.

In July, the Daily spoke to Ferentz at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago about former quarterback Jake Rudock, his coaching career and playing a night game against Michigan.

The Michigan Daily: You’ll be hosting Michigan in a night game in November. What level of intensity do you expect from that game?

Kirk Ferentz: It will be a great environment. Night games in Kinnick are special. Night games anywhere are really special. And we’re playing a great opponent. A rival, a traditional, storied history of the program and they’ve got an excellent football team, an excellent program, so we’re going to have a lot of work between now and then to get ready for that, but we’re eager for it.

TMD: It will be in mid-November. Do you expect it to be pretty cold?

KF: You know, it could be, it might not be. It’s interesting. Last year, we had a night game, I think it was November or last weekend of October, and it couldn’t have been nicer. Then a week later, I thought we were on the North Pole. You just never know what you’re going to get, that’s for sure, in November.

TMD: Jake Rudock probably considers himself just as much a Hawkeye as he is a Wolverine —

KF: I would say probably more so! We got a little more time invested in him.

TMD: You did, you did! So what was it like to watch him get drafted and what do you expect out of his future?

KF: I’m really happy for Jake. It was hardly a negotiation. It was a decision we had to make and my obligation has always been to what’s the best for our football team. It’s like a parent. What’s the best for your child involved and for the family, et cetera? We made a very hard decision and it wasn’t necessarily anyone failing. It was just two really good players. I think history has proven that. We had two good players to choose from. I can’t say enough about Jake. The good thing is that it worked out really well for everybody involved. Both teams went on and did well. Both quarterbacks did great. I was hardly surprised.

Jake is a first-class young man. He’s a good football player, but he’s a better person. Whenever his football ends, he has a lot of good things waiting for him in life. He’s just a tremendous young guy. You want everybody to be happy. You want everybody to be successful. But there’s only one ball. Not everyone can share it, unfortunately.

Question: (Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta) talked a little bit to us about contract stuff, and a lifetime deal for you, what does that mean to you?

KF: It’s, as you might have figured out by now, it’s been one of my goals to remain at Iowa. I love coaching there and the university has been great to not only myself, but our entire family. So that would be our goal, certainly. I get a little nervous by that ‘R’ word, so that’s way down the road hopefully. It’s been a lot of fun to coach there and we’re really excited by what’s in front of us right now.

Q: Coaches never want to talk about the ‘R’ word, but do you think about it at all ever — how long you want to keep going at this?

KF: Occasionally, you know, but not real deep at this point. My guess is one of two things. Whenever that time comes, I read about people that say you just feel it, I guess, whatever profession you may be in. I’m lucky, I’m in a profession, too, where other people are more than willing to tell you it might be time, outside of your wife. We’ll deal with that whenever it comes, but I think that’s down the road a little bit, hopefully.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.