CHICAGO – College coaches rarely stay at one school for a decade these days. So, it’s even more unusual when one is approaching his second.
Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz finds himself in that position as his program opens training camp this week to kick off his 17th season. With a 34-30 overall record and 19-21 mark in the Big Ten over the last five campaigns, onlookers wonder, not only when his tenure will end, but how it will conclude.
Ferentz answered a bevy of questions from local, regional and national media here on Thursday concerning his future and that of his program. A lot of inquiries focused on his ability to maintain the identity of success he created.
The calm, cool and collected Ferentz, 60, remained steady in answering. As usual, he showed no panic and believed in his team being able climb back up the conference standings.
"The key is to be focused on what’s going to get us to where the identity we want to have for ourselves becomes apparent to others," he said.
Iowa dropped four of its last five games last season to finish at 7-6. It entered the final two contests with a chance to win the West Division before losing both of them in agonizing fashion to rivals Wisconsin and Nebraska.
"It really just starts with a mindset," Ferentz said. "That’s one thing that might be unique to Iowa that it’s not at some other places, your margin for error. Maybe if I was coaching at USC in 1975, other than a couple of games, the margin for error is not quite the same. At our place, it’s pretty much week in and week out. We need to be on task."
Hawkeyes season tickets sales sit at around 36,000 or half of Kinnick Stadium capacity. Ferentz isn’t letting that get him down, either.
"How we play on the field is still first and foremost and then what we can do to enhance the game-day experience. (AD) Gary (Barta) and the administration have done a great job. They’ve added on to the time allotted outside in the parking lots. I think the sound system has been addressed. Those are things that will help but ultimately it’s us.
"The great thing about coaching at Iowa is, if we put a good product out there, that our fans can identity with and associated with, I think things will be just fine. As bad as it might seem right now, we made a big jump from June to July."
AllHawkeyes.com compiled an exclusive video of Ferentz talking about the state of his program in Chicago. He was given an opportunity to make excuses and lash back at his critics. He stayed positive.
Check it out: