By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz was clearly sending a message to Iowa fans, and to anybody else who cares about his offense with the following statement:
“We’re always looking to improve. But we’re not going to become a run-and-shoot.”
Kirk Ferentz made that comment this past Monday as he met with the media.
He even referred to veteran coach Mouse Davis, who is responsible for popularizing the run-and-shoot offense, which emphasizes receiver motion and adjusting on the fly at the line of scrimmage.
It was part of a long explanation for why Kirk Ferentz feels the best way to sustain success is by playing complementary football in which offense, defense and special teams all feed off each other.
The person that Kirk Ferentz ultimately picks to be his next offensive coordinator will know exactly where he stands on offense, and will accept it, or that person wouldn’t be picked.
Kirk Ferentz has withstood the test of time by winning more games than he loses, and that is really all that matters to him.
He could have a 100 percent graduation rate, but if he had two or three losing seasons in row, his job would probably be at risk.
But he hasn’t had back-to-back losing seasons since his first two seasons as the Iowa head coach in 1999 and 2000, so Kirk Ferentz still has leverage, negotiating power and the freedom to do as he pleases with his offense.
The decision to fire his son, Brian Ferentz, as the Iowa offensive coordinator shows that Kirk Ferentz’s power and influence has its limits.
But Iowa Interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz isn’t about to start telling Kirk Ferentz how to run his offense, nor should she.
Goetz made her stand with the decision to fire Brian Ferentz, and though it obviously didn’t sit well with Kirk Ferentz, the decision has been made and now it’s time to move forward.
Kirk Ferentz plans to move forward by staying the course with his offense.
He has 196 wins to rank third all-time in Big Ten history, and to Kirk Ferentz, that’s a big deal and a reason why he still believes that his way can work on offense.
He resents that his son was fired in a season in which the offense has been ravaged by injuries, but he’d resent it under any circumstance because it’s his son.
But as for his message to the fans, it might be a failure to communicate on both sides because your typical Iowa fan doesn’t seem to be calling for a dramatic change in offensive philosophy, as shifting to a spread offense, or to the run-and-shoot, would certainly be.
The typical fan just wants the offense to stop making everything look so hard.
The typical fan just wants to see an offense that can make plays down field, that can just be average from a statistical standpoint, and that can score touchdowns.
Just average. That’s all.
Of course, fans would love for the offense to be way better than average, but the offense will have to walk before it can run.
But right now, Iowa is crawling on offense.
Frustration with Kirk Ferentz’s offense has festered throughout his 25-year reign, and with three different offensive coordinators. But the level of frustration has reached a boiling point because of how shockingly bad the offense has been since the start of the 2022 season.
Kirk Ferentz could counter by pointing out that Iowa still won the Big Ten West Division this season, and that his team has a chance to win 11 games for just the fifth time in program history, if it were to defeat Tennessee in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Florida.
Critics would counter by saying that Iowa’s success this season was despite the offense, and that the offense failed miserably against the two best opponents on the schedule as Iowa lost to Penn State and Michigan by scores of 31-0 and 26-0, respectively.
Both sides certainly have a case, but again, Kirk Ferentz is mistaken if he thinks that the typical fan is clamoring for an overhaul on offense.
Sure, there’s some fans that want dramatic changes, and some that want unrealistic changes.
But the typical fan, the one using reason and logic, just wants an offense that isn’t ranked at or near the bottom nationally in multiple statistical categories, and that doesn’t make just completing a forward pass seem impossible at times.
And that isn’t asking too much.