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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Hawkeyes lock up Ferentz 

"Captain" Kirk Ferentz has put an end to speculation that he will be leaving the Iowa Hawkeyes anytime soon. Two Big Ten Co-Championships in three years have apparently convinced Ferentz that he can win at Iowa, and he signed a contract extension that will pay him a base salary of approximately $1.2 million, a host of incentive bonuses, and keep him under contract through 2012. Hawkeyes everywhere breath a large sigh of relief.

Anyone who follows the Hawkeyes closely knows what they have in Ferentz. He inherited from Hayden Fry a program that had been hollowed out as a result of Fry's impending retirement, and faced fans bitterly disappointed that the new coach was not former Hawkeye star Bob Stoops. After a 1-10 season in 1999, Ferentz had few converts. 2000 was a little better, as the Hawkeyes went 3-8, winning Big 10 games against Michigan State, a ranked Northwestern team, and against Penn State in overtime, finishing the season well. In 2001, the Hawkeyes returned to a bowl game, defeating Texas Tech in the Alamo bowl after a 6-5 regular season that saw them hold their own against the cream of the conference. It all gelled the next season when the Hawkeyes ran the table in the Big 10, finishing 11-2 and playing USC in the Orange Bowl.

Ferentz has managed this through consistent and outstanding player development, and game tactics that expose the weaknesses of his opponents. He is humble, gracious, and runs a clean program, and the Hawkeyes are damn lucky to have him.

Having served as offensive line coach under Hayden Fry in the 1980's, Ferentz is also part of the impressive coaching tree that has grown from Fry's Iowa program. Other former Fry disciples include Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, Dan McCarney at Iowa State, Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Mike Stoops at Arizona, and star Wisconsin defensive coordinator and former Hawkeye Bret Bielema, expected to be a head coach very soon. The Hayden Fry legacy just gets more impressive as time passes.

1 Comments:

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