IOWA CITY, Iowa – Jordan Lomax has a simple solution to the negativity surrounding the Iowa football program.
"Pretty much you don’t read the websites, you don’t listen to the outside noise. I’m not even aware (of the negativity) to be honest. Everybody is going to have an opinion but at the end of the day the only opinion that matters are the people that are actually working towards winning a championship. That’s the players and the coaches," the Hawkeye senior safety said Wednesday at the team’s practice facility.
The players attending the gathering were in agreement that last season’s 7-6 mark fell well below their expectations. But instead of listening to outside predictions of further demise in 2015, they’ve focused on improving.
"You hear it. It’s everywhere but you try not to listen to the noise. That’s one of our big things, to not listen to the noise. You try to do that as much as you can. But at the same time, we know we’ve got to be better. That’s something we’re going to push for and something we’re going to do," senior linebacker Travis Perry said.
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz has revived things in Iowa City before during his 16-year run. He initially lifted the program up to three consecutive seasons (’02-04) where it was ranked No. 8 nationally. After a valley in ’07 that ended with no postseason, the Hawkeyes won their first nine games two years later and finished 11-2 with an Orange Bowl victory.
Most recently, Iowa bottomed out at 4-8 in ’12. Negativity towards Ferentz and the program built up to a level never before seen in his tenure. That was squelched the year after when Iowa won eight games and played LSU in the Outback Bowl. Many of those good feelings vanished with last season’s loss of all four trophy games and some uncharacteristic blowout defeats.
Despite a successful run in leading the program and winning the second most games in program history, a growing number of fans feel the Ferentz Era has run its course. Season ticket sales are declining to the point where the school is trying to get creative in offering deals to get fannies in the seats.
The outside sentiment about the head coach has not penetrated the walls of the Iowa football complex, at least not publicly.
"Coach (Kirk) Ferentz is one of the best in the business. I have nothing but the utmost respect for that man. We’re going to continue to trust him and trust each other and we’re going to have a good season this fall," Perry said.
At this point in time, the Hawkeyes likely must take a few steps forward to stem the tide of opinion that Ferentz must go and that the program isn’t meeting expectations. Off-season discussion about what might happen this fall resolves nothing.
"It’s not about us talking about it. It’s about us just going out there and doing it," Lomax said.
To do that, the Iowa players say they and the coaches attend to the things they can control. Worrying about what others think won’t help them fix what led to their struggles a year ago.
"We try not to listen to that. We know what goes on inside this program is on us. It’s our team," junior quarterback C.J. Beathard said. "We know the inside of things. We try not to listen to (the negativity) because we know coach and we know our players and we know what’s right and what we should be doing."
It’s important to point out that players saying they don’t hear it means they don’t listen or pay attention to it. They know it’s out there. They realize some people question their head coach’s competency.
"You hear it every now and then, you just don’t really think anything of it because you just have to stay focused during times like that," Beathard said.