IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz began his press conference on Thursday by giving a very long opening statement that started in predictable fashion.
Ferentz offered his condolences to former Iowa Athletics Director Bump Elliott, whose wife, Barbara, died this week.
Ferentz ended his opening statement by thanking Iowa fans for their support throughout the 2015 season. He thanked them for showing up in large numbers at the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 5 in Indianapolis and again at the Rose Bowl last Friday in Pasadena, Calif.
“The turnout in Indianapolis was unbelievable,” Ferentz said. “What a great environment. Just so good to be part of that.
“And I would say the same thing about the showing in Pasadena. Again, the turnout of our fans, it’s phenomenal. It’s legendary. And again, on behalf of our program, our team, I want to let our fans know how much they appreciate all they do and the support of our program.”
Ferentz also praised the Stanford football team, particularly star running back Christian McCaffrey, for its 45-16 victory over Iowa in the Rose Bowl last Friday.
“It’s like anything: until you get on the field, you don’t get a full appreciation I think for how good or where a team is, and that was an excellent football team, there’s no question about that,” Ferentz said of Stanford. “My guess is the final rankings will reflect that.
“I’d say the same thing about Christian McCaffrey. Since that time, after the ballgame, I was thinking about it, and I’m not sure we’ve played against a more impactful, dynamic football player in 17 years than him. He’s just a tremendous football player and is a threat every way possible; is a guy that can touch the ball, and can’t say enough about him. As good as he was on film, he’s certainly more impressive in person. Their whole football team is impressive.”
Ferentz then spent about 45 minutes answering questions about the season that had just ended and about the season that lies ahead.
The only real news to come out of Thursday’s press conference is that Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard probably won’t need surgery to repair whatever was ailing him this season.
“Medicine is not black and white, but we’re hoping that that’s not the case,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz also held a January press conference one year ago, in the wake of Iowa’s 2014 meltdown. That press conference had a different vibe than Thursday’s gathering. There was no quarterback drama on Thursday, whereas a year ago, Ferentz announced at his January press conference that Beathard had moved ahead of Jake Rudock as the starting quarterback.
There wasn’t anything nearly as dramatic or controversial on Thursday.
One of the biggest developments is that sophomore-to-be James Daniels is now listed as the new starting center on the depth chart, which was released on Thursday.
Unfortunately, for Daniels, he is expected to miss all of spring practice after recently having surgery. The good news is that Daniels is expected to make a full recovery and he already has participated in one spring practice schedule.
Daniels graduated from high school early and enrolled at Iowa last January. He then participated in spring practice in 2015.
“I guess we’re lucky he was here last spring, so we picked up a bonus spring there,” Ferentz said. “He’s done a lot of good things in practice. Naturally would love to have him out there for those 15 days. But if he’s not out there, he’ll be able to overcome it. That’s how it’s going to work.”
Sophomore cornerback Josh Jackson also recently had surgery and is questionable for spring practice, according to Ferentz.
Ferentz had nothing new to report on defensive end Drew Ott, who is appealing for a medical redshirt.
“It’s still in process and really no final decision has been made on that,” Ferentz said.
Ferentz called Jim Reid’s decision to resign as the Iowa linebackers coach to become the defensive coordinator at Boston College “bittersweet.” Ferentz understands the move, though, with the 65-year Reid being a native of Medford, Mass.
“I’m just very appreciative of everything that Jim did for our program over the last three years and wish him nothing but the best moving forward,” Ferentz said. “It’s always hard to lose a good person, but this move made total sense for him.
“He’s going back home. It’s an opportunity to be a coordinator and I think he’ll certainly have a positive impact on their football team there.”
Ferentz said he has a couple coaches in mind to replace Reid, and will move along accordingly with the hiring process.
Ferentz also addressed the Desmond King situation, saying he thinks King’s decision to return to Iowa for his senior season makes sense. King was considering leaving a year early for the NFL after a junior season in which he won the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate defensive back.
“I wouldn’t use the word "surprised," but I was pleased,” Ferentz said when asked he was surprised by King’s decision to return for his senior season. “Yeah, my sense was in December that he was giving it serious thought. I don’t want to say he was leaning towards coming back but I think he had an open mind it and we encourage that.
"The big thing we encouraged him to do was get good, valuable, accurate information from knowledgeable people and I think that entered into his decision.”
The 2015 season ended with back-to-back losses, but fans still are re-energized after watching Iowa finish 12-0 during the regular season.
Iowa also has more than half of its starters returning for next season. On paper, the Hawkeyes might be the strongest team in the Big Ten West Division.
So in one year, Iowa has gone from being the hunter to the hunted.
“It’s not going to be a lot different other than the outside, how people perceive us,” Ferentz said. “That will probably be a little different and that comes with winning. It comes with losing. All those things, you can write that script out of your head. It’s how we handle it and how we deal it and what we do.
“It goes back to my point about the fine line. The most important thing is the people in this building have to understand just what a fine line it is and we are starting all over again. We haven’t won a game this year. Our first opponent is Miami of Ohio. I know they could care less what they say about us or what’s being said about us, good, bad or indifferent. They are going to come here trying to beat us. We need to get ready for that, but we have a lot of steps between now and then.”
In other words, it’s time to move on. The 2015 season was fun while it lasted, but it’s over.
The challenge now is to get better, or at least try to sustain the same level of success.
Iowa football depth chart
SE – 9 Jerminic Smith, 6-1, 180 Soph. Garland Texas
3 Jay Scheel, 6-1, 195, Soph., Mount Auburn, Iowa
LT – 64 Cole Croston, 6-5, 295, Sr., Sergeant Bluff, Iowa
52 Boone Myers, 6-5, 300, Jr., Webster City, Iowa
LG – 52 Boone Myers, 6-5, 300, Jr., Webster City, Iowa
73 Ryan Ward, 6-5, 290, Sr., Homer Glen, Ill.
C – 78 Jame Daniels, 6-4, 285, Soph., Warren, Ohio
54 Steve Ferentz, 6-2, 278, Sr., Iowa City, Iowa
RG – 79 Sean Welsh, 6-3, 288, Jr., Springboro, Ohio
69 Keegan Render, 6-4, 305, Soph., Indianola
RT – 75 Ike Boettger, 6-6, 300, Jr., Cedar Falls, Iowa
76 Dalton Ferguson, 6-4, 307, Jr., Solon, Iowa
TE – 46 George Kittle, 6-4, 235, Sr., Norman, Okla.
92 Jameer Outsey, 6-3, 235, Soph., Somerset, N.J.
WR – 89 Matt VandeBerg, 6-1, 185, Sr., Brandon, S.D.
83 Riley McCarron, 5-9, 186, Sr., Dubuque, Iowa
QB – 16 C.J. Beathard, 6-2, 209, Sr., Franklin, Tenn.
8 Tyler Wiegers, 6-4, 222, Soph., Lake Orion, Mich.
RB – 29 LeShun Daniels, 6-0, 225, Sr., Warren, Ohio
25 Akrum Wadley, 5-11, 185, Jr., Newark, N.J.
32 Derrick Mitchell Jr., 6-1, 212, Jr., St. Louis, Mo.
FB – 45 Drake Kulick, 6-1, 228, Jr., Muscatine, Iowa
52 Brady Ross, 6-1, 220, Fr., Humboldt, Iowa
PK – 91 Miguel Recinos, 6-1, 180, Soph., Mason City, Iowa
2 Mick Ellis, 5-10, 180, Soph., Allen, Texas
LE – 96 Matt Nelson, 6-8L 270, Soph., Cedar Rapids, Iowa
90 Sam Brincks, 6-5, 260, Soph., Carroll, Iowa
DT – 67 Jaleel Johnson, 6-4, 310, Sr., Lombard, Ill.
56 Faith Ekakitie, 6-3, 290, Sr., Brampton, Ontario
RT – 99 Nathan Bazata, 6-2, 284, Jr., Howells, Neb
61 Kyle Terlouw, 6-4, 288, Sr., Sully, Iowa
RE – 40 Parker Hesse, 6-3, 240, Soph., Waukon, Iowa
98 Anthony Nelson, 6-7, 220, Fr., Waukee, Iowa
OLB – 44 Ben Niemann, 6-3, 225, Jr., Sycamore, Ill.
42 Bo Bower, 6-1, 228, Jr., West Branch, Iowa
MLB – 43 Josey Jewell, 6-2, 230, Jr., Decorah, Iowa
48 Jack Hockaday, 6-1, 215, Soph., Forsyth, Ill.
WLB – 31 Aaron Mends, 6-0, 212, Soph., Kansas City, Mo.
48 Jack Hiockaday, 6-1, 215, Soph., Forsyth, Ill.
LC – 13 Greg Mabin, 6-2, 200, Sr., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.,
28 Maurice Fleming, 6-0, 205, Sr., Chicagol, Ill.
SS – 19 Miles Taylor, 6-0, 195, Jr., Silver Spring, Md.
12 Anthony Gair, 6-2, 210, Sr., Plano, Texas
FS – 37 Brandon Snyder, 6-1, 210, Soph., Larchwood, Iowa
30 Jake Gervase, 6-1, 200, Soph., Davenport, Iowa
RC – 14 Desmond King, 5-11, 200, Sr., Detroit, Mich.
15 Josh Jackson, 6-1, 185, Soph., Corinth, Texas
PT – 7 Colten Rastetter, 6-2, 205, Fr., Guttenberg, Iowa
91 Miguel Recinos, 6-1, 180, Soph., Mason City, Iowa