By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Even Kirk Ferentz has his breaking point.
The situation on offense is so bad that Iowa’s veteran head football coach is taking drastic steps, at least by his conservative and tradition-led standards.
Ferentz never has been a fan of the transfer portal, because he’d rather use players that he has developed.
But as he nears the end if his 24th season as the Iowa head coach, Kirk Ferentz has a serious problem that can no longer be ignored, dismissed or minimized.
His offense is a mess, and his son is faced with trying to clean up the mess, which Brian Ferentz has shown no signs of being able to accomplish this season.
So, for Kirk Ferentz to have landed Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara from the transfer portal under these less-than-ideal circumstances, and to have closed the deal so quickly is quite impressive.
I’ll admit, I was skeptical from the moment Iowa was mentioned as a possible landing spot for McNamara.
I just couldn’t wrap my head around why a proven quarterback with a championship pedigree, which he earned at a blue blood program, would want to subject himself to the dysfunction and awkwardness on offense at Iowa.
But I was also reminded about Iowa’s strengths, from its rock-solid defense to its reliable special teams, devoted fan base and long-standing tradition.
Iowa certainly isn’t Michigan, but Iowa is an upper division Big Ten program that so desperately needs a quarterback to perform on the field, and to provide hope off the field.
With Spencer Petras graduating and with Alex Padilla transferring, Iowa didn’t have a quarterback on the roster with any game experience until McNamara decided to be a Hawkeye.
And while there is a lot to like about Iowa as a whole, McNamara is also taking a risk by joining an offense that has performed at a historically low level this season.
McNamara had success at Michigan, including leading the Wolverines to the 2021 Big Ten championship over Iowa, but he also had a better supporting cast at Michigan.
McNamara’s decision is a reverse of when former Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock transferred to Michigan after the 2014 season, and after he had lost the starting position to C.J. Beathard.
Rudock would go on to start for Michigan in 2015 and he led the Wolverines to a 10-3 record in Jim Harbaugh’s first season as head coach at his alma mater.
McNamara is recovering from a leg injury, but it seems unlikely that Kirk Ferentz would have pursued McNamara without having assurance that he would make a full recovery.
McNamara also has two seasons of eligibility remaining and Iowa and Michigan don’t play in the 2023 regular season.
Some Iowa fans are screaming for Brian Ferentz to be fired as offensive coordinator, but if Kirk Ferentz can pull off enough of these transfer portal triumphs, it might make it so his son can last another year.
Say you what you want about Kirk Ferentz being too stubborn, too old-fashioned and too stuck in his ways, but he obviously recognizes that he can’t stay put with his offense because that could cause disastrous results on the field, and from a public relations standpoint.
Kirk Ferentz landed more than just a proven quarterback in Cade McNamara, he landed what is now a symbol of hope and belief that the Iowa offense is finally moving in the right direction.