Difficult year does not suppress Kirk Ferentz’s desire to keep coaching
Ferentz said Sunday he is thinking about coaching at least another five years
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz has no plans to end his reign as the longest-tenured football coach in the country.
Ferentz, who passed Hayden Fry as Iowa’s winningest head coach in school history in 2018, held a Zoom conference with reporters Sunday hours after Iowa’s Music City Bowl matchup with Missouri was canceled.
“I might need an oil change – 65,000-miles oil change – one of those shots,” Ferentz said. “But I feel pretty good physically. This is what I like doing. That’s probably one other reinforcement of the COVID pandemic era that we’ve lived through. I’m not quite ready to start stamp collecting or bird watching. Maybe until I can find some interesting hobbies outside of football, this is what I enjoy.
“We’re all ready for a break. We all could probably use a break, get back and reconnect with people close to us. This is what I enjoy doing and I’ve been probably thinking more about five-year plans than I have five-week or five-month, that’s for sure.”
Between a global pandemicl, former players alleging racial bias within the program and contracting the COVID-19 virus himself, 2020 may have been the toughest of Ferentz’s 22 years as the Iowa head coach.
But the most difficult part of an already tough season for Ferentz may have been the anticlimactic ending.
Iowa was scheduled to play Michigan on Dec. 19, but the game was canceled due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Wolverine program.
The same happened with Iowa’s Music City Bowl matchup with Missouri that was originally scheduled for Dec. 30.
Either way, Iowa finished with a 6-2 record and was the only Big Ten West team to play all eight regular season games.
“Perhaps it’s irony,” Ferentz said. “Perhaps it’s fitting, but I got to say goodbye to our team via Zoom. If there’s one thing I appreciate during this COVID time was the Zoom, for us to be able to communicate. And if there’s one thing I’ll never miss in my adult life if we never Zoom again, and can do things face-to-face like the old days, that day won’t come soon enough.”
Even before the Music City Bowl was canceled, Ferentz already said goodbye to senior receiver Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, both of whom opted out of the bowl game in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Before too long, Ferentz could see redshirt sophomore center Tyler Linderbaum and junior defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon move on.
Both players earned first-team All-Big Ten honors this season and Nixon, a native of Kenosha, Wis., was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
Ferentz said Sunday that he has spoken with Nixon about the next level, but has not spoken with Linderbaum.
“I told (Nixon) we would pull some information together,” Ferentz said. “I’ll do the same with Tyler. I have no indication that he’s even thinking about it, but it would be silly for me to assume that.
“I think in a lot of cases it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that guys are leaving. But there might be some others where guys are interested in staying and that’s great. We’ve got time in the next week or two to wrap stuff up, but it didn’t feel like it was really pressing at this point.”