Donald Trump, Paul Chryst, Joe Philbin and Brian Ferentz’s current status all topics in Monday’s press conference
By Pat Harty
IOW CITY, Iowa – The four players on the Iowa football team that earned All-America honors, along with Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz all met with the media on Monday.
Defensive backs Cooper DeJean and Sebastian Castro, punter Tory Taylor and linebacker Jay Higgins all answered questions for about 15 minutes each.
There was no major news that came from those interviews as Castro, DeJean and Higgins still haven’t decided if they will return next season or declare the 2024 NFL draft, while the 26-year-old Taylor already has decided to enter the NFL draft.
However, Taylor was asked about his decision to attend Donald Trump’s political rally in Coralville last week.
Taylor, as an Australia native, can’t vote in the election, but he was singled out by Trump for attending the rally.
“I don’t have any political agenda or anything like that whatsoever,” Taylor said. “When I got here, was it three years ago, he was the president and I just thought, well, he’s coming to town, my time at Iowa is nearly up, I’ll go down and see what it’s about. Really no different if I were in the (United Kingdom) and I wanted to go see King Charles or whatever his name is.
“Donald Trump came to town and he’s a former president and I just thought I’d go see what it’s all about.”
Taylor was then asked what he thought about the rally, and about being touted by the former president.
“It’s obviously pretty cool,” Taylor said. “But kind of like I said, I don’t really have any political agenda. I can’t vote or anything like that. So, I don’t really worry about that stuff too much. It was just one of those things that I wanted to experience before I was done. I had never been to a rally as they say.
“So, I just thought I’d go down there, my last couple weeks in Iowa and I knew he was coming to town, so I thought, why not?
Taylor was then asked by the same reporter what he thought of all of it?
He laughed briefly before saying:
“Man, this guy is not going to stop until he gets the headline, is he?
The reporter said in response that he wasn’t trying to trap Taylor, but that it was just so unusual.
“It feels like it,” Taylor said of being trapped. “Like I said, no matter who it is, he’s probably one of the most famous men on the planet. But it’s really one of those things that’s a matter of opinion as to what people think of him. But I really enjoyed the experience, and I enjoyed the talk.
“It’s nothing that I’ve heard before. You don’t really get that stuff back home in Australia. So, I do enjoy listening to important people and powerful and smart people in general.”
Taylor was then asked by a different reporter if he expected to be mentioned by Trump?
“No. I had no idea,” he said. “Absolutely not.”
That was the end of the political discussion.
Taylor talked mostly about his incredible rise as the Iowa punter, which includes winning the 2023 Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best collegiate punter, and about his last game as a Hawkeye, which will come against Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Florida.
“Some people ask, are you going to play in the bowl game? Of course, I am,” Taylor said. “Any chance I get to punt the ball for the Hawkeyes I’m going to do it.”
Taylor said he looks forward to reuniting with his friend and former high school classmate Jackson Ross, who is a punter for Tennessee.
“So, that’s also a little bit of added excitement,” Taylor said. “I’ve got a few friends coming to the game as well.”
Phil Parker met with the media for about 15 minutes and addressed multiple topics, including winning the 2023 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
He apparently almost didn’t attend the award ceremony in Little Rick, Arkansas because he assumed that one of the four offensive assistant coaches that were also up for honor would win it.
“To be truthful, I almost stayed home,” Parker said. “I was forced to get on the plane.”
Monday’s press conference then finished with Kirk Ferentz answering questions for nearly 20 minutes.
It didn’t take long for him to be asked about his search for a new offensive coordinator to replace his son, Brian Ferentz, who will be relieved of his duties once the season ends.
Brian Ferentz has been the Iowa offensive coordinator since the 2017 season.
Kirk Ferentz said his main focus right now is preparing his team for the bowl game.
“I’m still flying by the seat of my pants,” Kirk Ferentz said. “I’ve made all of three phone calls. I’ll give you that little tidbit, three phone calls so far, hopefully, get one more in this week and we’ll really turn our attention to it when we get back here because you’ve got to have some face-to-face meetings and those kinds of things.
“But based on what I know as I stand here right now, I feel total confidence that we’ll have a really good person here because there’s some strong interest from people that would make a lot of sense that really fit, and I think would fit what we need. So, it’s going to work out just fine, unless the bottom falls out, which could always happen.
“But I’ll promise you, too, there’s going to be a new market of people out there in January or February.”
Kirk Ferentz was asked what his relationship is with former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who is rumored to be one of the leading candidates for the job.
“I’ve always had tremendous respect for Paul,” Kirk Ferentz said. “I think it’s publicly stated. He did an outstanding job at Wisconsin.”
Chryst currently works as an advisor for the Texas football team after having been fired as the Wisconsin head coach last season.
Kirk Ferentz was also asked about Joe Philbin as a possible candidate.
Philbin coached the Iowa offensive line under Kirk Ferentz from 1999 to 2002 before leaving for the NFL where he would go on to become head coach and offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins.
Philbin currently works as an offensive analyst for the Ohio State football team.
“I’ve got great respect for Joe, too, he was a tremendous coach here,” Kirk Ferentz said. “We caught a lot of crap for hiring him out of Harvard. I guess it would have been good for this junior high quiz, but not for football.
“But he did an excellent job here and he was an excellent coach with Green Bay. I think they set records when he was the coordinator there. He had a cup of coffee as an NFL head coach, which is how that works, typically. I’ve got great respect for him. Great person, great football coach.”
Kirk Ferentz said a decision about the offensive coordinator job wouldn’t be made until after he returns from the bowl game.
The job wasn’t even posted until last Wednesday and it would have to be posted for at least two weeks before the hiring process can start.
Kirk Ferentz said he expects Brian Ferentz to coach in the bowl game unless something changes in Brian Ferentz’s search for a new opportunity.
“I think he’ll do all he can to help the program, but he also has to look out for himself, too, right now,” Kirk Ferentz said of his son. “And I’ll tell you this; if he gets a job tomorrow, I don’t expect him to be here. An if he is, I might have to visit with him about that.”