IOWA CITY, Iowa – What feels like the longest offseason in the history of the Iowa football program is now, thankfully, within a month of being over.
Iowa will hold its annual media day event this Saturday afternoon after starting practice on Thursday.
Kids Day will be held next Saturday at Kinnick Stadium followed by three more weeks of practice in preparation for the Sept. 5 season opener against Illinois State at Kinnick Stadium.
That game can’t get here soon enough.
No disrespect to media day because it is a significant event. But there is nothing that could be said outside of Greg Davis promising to remove horizontal passes from his game plan that would excite fans at this point.
Kirk Ferentz enters his 17th season as the Iowa head coach with arguably more pressure to win than ever before. His program is spinning its wheels and mired in mediocrity with a 19-19 record over the past three seasons.
His offense under Davis has mostly been ineffective.
His special teams, once-considered a strength under Ferentz, have regressed almost to the point of being a weakness.
And his defense was average at best last season before unraveling down the stretch.
The lack of success is now costing from a business standpoint with ticket sales declining. Combine that with the restrictions on tailgating and you have a recipe for apathy.
The only cure for apathy is winning, but it’ll take more than just a winning season. Ferentz has used up all of his 7-6 and 6-6 records at Iowa.
He probably wouldn’t be fired after another average season, but his once-proud legacy would continue to crumble.
It’s been more than a decade since Iowa won its last Big Ten title in 2004. The Hawkeyes also haven’t won more than eight games in a season since 2009.
The concern now is that Ferentz, who turned 60 on Aug. 1, has stayed too long in his current position, and there is nothing he can do at this stage to fix things besides win.
Ferentz has made changes all over the place. He changed quarterbacks. He changed when practices will be held. And he’s changed coaching responsibilities for some of his assistants, including making his son, Brian Ferentz, Iowa’s new running game coordinator.
“I really feel good about the people just like I did back 15, 16 years ago; felt good about the people in our organization and really feel that way now,” Kirk Ferentz said.
Ferentz even has changed his role by eliminating some outside distractions, including his weekly appearance at the Johnson County I-Club Breakfast on the Friday morning before each home game.
All of these changes were made in order to improve Iowa’s chance of having a successful season, which at this stage under Ferentz, would be no fewer than nine victories.
That might sound like a tall order, but that’s the harsh reality at this point under Ferentz.
One thing that won’t change is Ferentz’s role at media day. He’ll praise his team’s work ethic and say that he likes Iowa’s potential, but that much work still is needed.
The players will rally behind new starting quarterback C.J. Beathard and they’ll say that last season’s disappointment is incentive for this season.
Media day is a feel-good event, a chance to get better acquainted with the team before it dives head first into preseason practice.
It’s also a sign that the season is almost here. And that’s what we need more than anything at this stage. We need some answers and solutions to our questions and concerns.