IOWA CITY — Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.
I wasn’t sure why Kirk Ferentz scheduled a press conference for Wednesday. After attending it, I’m still not. The accessibility and the coach’s willingness to answer questions with civility are always welcomed. After losing six straight games to end a season, many a coach would have avoided a public Q&A as if it were an NCAA investigator.
But you knew Ferentz wouldn’t be offering any smooth lip-service or swift and radical changes when it comes to how he sees the Hawkeyes getting out of their 4-8 divot. This has never been a coach who believes in quick-fixes or overhauls.
In good times, that’s been a big part of what has endeared the Iowa football coach to Hawkeye fans over the years has been that consistent approach. Believe in what you’re doing, outwork the world, stay the course, and the victories come. Which they certainly have. Lots of them. Lots of good ones.
In not-so-good times like the present, that outlook frustrates the fan base. It’s maddening, even. When change seems so necessary, you don’t and won’t get specifics.
“It’s not what anybody wants to hear,” Ferentz said, “but it’s a matter of getting back to basics and doing the basics better. … It’s a matter of doing things better on a more frequent basis, and that is the challenge ahead for us.
“Yeah, we’re 4‑8 right now, so I think we have to be open to everything: Be it staff, players, where guys line up, all those types of things. It’s not something typically you make a rash decision on. It’s things that you have to look at, and I think you have to look at how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”
The defense needs to get back to pressuring and tackling. Those are basics that certainly would help. But you either have the players or you don’t. This year, Iowa didn’t. That was a known possibility last August, and many expected as much.
The offense is where so many outsiders are so concerned. It’s been said and re-said in various ways, so pardon the redundancy. But the offense was not watchable under first-year Iowa coordinator Greg Davis, let alone effective.
“We’ve had some great discussion,” Ferentz said, “and I think he’s got a real firm handle on our best path moving forward, at least at this point. It’s early in the game. I think we’re all seeing it the same way.”
Ferentz isn’t the kind to publicly say Iowa’s offense was a hot mess. He’ll always try to deflect the heat from his assistants and players, and good for him. But what the public probably wants to hear is a little assurance it will never again be subjected to a season with just 22 offensive touchdowns and seven passing TDs.
In a bygone era, there would be more low grumbling and less loud growling about the Iowa season that just ended, as well as the disappointing 2010 team and the blah 2011 squad. But we live in different times.
For one thing, there’s never been a greater importance placed on college football than today. We just saw Sunday Bloody Sunday when it came to coaching firings, including the coach who had led Purdue to bowl-eligibility this year and in 2011. Then, there was the North Carolina State coach who had just done for the third-straight season. And, a Colorado coach who had only been on the job two years.
Gene Chizik, canned after coaching Auburn to the national-title two seasons ago, shows you how seriously this stuff is being taken.
From morning until midnight last Saturday alone, you could watch college offenses ranging from very competent to dizzyingly dynamic. Never mind the Oregons and Oklahomas. At former football graveyards like Baylor, Ball State, San Jose State and Utah State, offenses are fully capable and fun to watch.
Iowa needs to at least get its offense back to “capable” next season.
“I am optimistic and always have been,” Ferentz said. “I was optimistic 14 years ago. … I saw no reason 14 years ago why we wouldn’t be successful. I see no reason today why we can’t be successful moving forward. It’s about as simple as that.
“The worst thing you can do is panic. The next probably worst thing you can do is have blinders on, and I don’t think we’ll do that, either.”
OK. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for basketball.
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