CHICAGO — If Kirk Ferentz and his agent Neil Cornrich ever have a fallout, the Iowa coach might want to look into Matt Millen.
When asked about Ferentz-to-Penn State rumor mill, Millen, a PSU alumnus and ABC/ESPN analyst, said, “If he keeps going the way he’s going, he’ll have his name on the stadium. I think the world of that guy.”
Millen loves Ferentz. He also loves quarterback James Vandenberg.
“[Ricky] Stanzi certainly deserved to play, he was a senior, he did nothing to deserve to play,” Millen said of a conversation he had with Ferentz before a game last year. “I just think Vandenberg will be better. He just needs reps and he’ll be fine.”
Millen, a former all-pro linebacker with the Oakland Raiders, loves Iowa middle linebacker James Morris.
“The Morris kid, he’ll be an all-American before he’s done,” Millen said. “I watched him practice and said something to Kirk, ‘Who is that kid?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, we like him.’ And then he played him [Morris]. I came back a couple weeks later and said, ‘He’s not getting out of the lineup.’
“That kid’s a good player. He needs some size, but he’s got instinct, he’s got toughness. He reads things like a running back. Those guys are hard to find.”
Millen, former GM for the Detroit Lions, loves Iowa’s offensive tackles Riley Reiff and Markus Zusevics.
“They’ve got two kids on the offensive line I love,” Millen said. “I like Riley Reiff, a good, tough kid. And Zusevics, same thing. Both those guys, good, tough kids. They don’t know it yet. That’s the good part.”
Millen loves Iowa, period.
“I’ve recommended that place a few times, believe me,” he said. “I think that’s as good of a place as there is in the country. I think he [Ferentz] is as good as it gets.”
Millen called the 2009 Ohio State-Iowa game, the one substantial start in Vandenberg’s career. He loved Vandenberg during the telecast and loved him again Thursday.
Oh, and yes, he noticed the camera loved Vandenberg’s mom, Ann.
“I’ll tell you the most memorable thing about that game,” Millen said, “we got more calls about his mom than any other player. It was unbelievable.”
OK, but really, Vandenberg the quarterback stepped in for injured starter Ricky Stanzi with the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line and pushed the Buckeyes before falling, 27-24, in overtime.
“He handles pressure,” Millen said. “That’s something that’s really hard to find. . . . That’s what wins and that’s what loses, the ability to perform under pressure. That kid had it. You don’t walk into Ohio Stadium and not have poise, unless you’re completely oblivious. I don’t know the kid, but I’m guessing he’s not completely oblivious. He handled it well. That’s a trait that’s hard to find.”