The momentum started with a 9 a.m. tweet from NFL Network reporter Albert Breer.
First, what day is tomorrow? Yes, it’s dreaded “Black Monday” in the NFL. It’s the first day after the end of the regular season. This is when coaches, GMs and front office personnel are launched into the recycle bin. The Kansas City Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the NFL. Scott Pioli is the Chiefs’ general manager. He finished his fourth season Sunday with his head coach (Romeo Crennel) likely fired and a massive hole at quarterback.
Pioli and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz worked together in Cleveland in the 1990s. They are friends.
You follow Iowa football. You know where this is going.
Here’s a quote from an August 2011 story by The Gazette‘s Scott Dochterman after an interview with Pioli at Chiefs’ camp:
“The thing about Kirk is he’s one of the finest human beings I’ve met in my 25-plus years in this business, in this game,” Pioli said. “He’s a great family man. He’s got an incredible wife and his five kids, I’ve known them all since they were young.
“His ability to prepare people is the fact that he cares about his kids, how he cares about his players. He understands things in the big picture of football and the big picture of life. I think he does a great job of preparing kids and getting kids to trust him because he’s so genuine. He’s one of those people when you look at football and you see how he does things and how he does his job, it makes you proud to be in the same industry because he’s a first-class act.”
That brings us to Sunday’s batch of “Ferentz to the NFL.”
Breer tweeted: “If Pioli gets another chance in KC, it could be w/the coach he wanted all along – Kirk Ferentz. Again, nothing completely certain there yet.”
And this tweet from the NFL Network’s Ian Rappoport: “On KC: Pioli’s best to stay w Chiefs is to bring in Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. Hear Iowa coaches are calling around, inquiring about jobs.”
And Breer later on Sunday: “As we said earlier this AM, expect Kirk Ferentz to be a candidate in KC, if things go down as … Pioli tried to get Ferentz in ’09.”
So, that’s what’s out there. Notice the “could” and “expect.” That isn’t definitive language.
Then on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” Sport Illustrated’s Peter King reported, with definitive language, that Ferentz will not be the next Chiefs coach.
The fact that Pioli and Ferentz are friends made this somewhat plausible. Another factor, the 4-8 last season has created some angst in Iowa City, as you might imagine. Plug “Ferentz” into a Twitter search and read the waves of vitriol.
Pioli’s status throws doubt on this. To say he’s embattled is a tremendous undersell. The Chiefs haven’t confirmed reports that he will even be back. So, there’s that.
Plus, Ferentz has a contract that will pay him $3.7 to $3.8 million through the 2019 season. There is no buy out. If Iowa would fire Ferentz without cause, the athletics department would owe him $19.95 million to be paid in equal monthly installments over the life of the deal. That would be $237,000 a month through January 2020.
The Chiefs could replace the money, but with Pioli on the ropes would owner Clark Hunt allow him to hire a third head coach in the five-year, $20 million range? Probably not. Owners are owners because they’re good with money.
We haven’t gotten to the Ferentz’s familial ties to Iowa.
“The 10 years is as strong of a statement as anything,” Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said in after the latest contract was signed in ’10. “It’s a long commitment, which is something I wouldn’t be comfortable with for a lot of coaches, but with someone like Kirk Ferentz, I’m comfortable with. And he’s marketable in the NFL, he’s marketable at other schools on the BCS level. It’s definitely a marketplace equitable contract.”
Last December, I asked about a possible tie to Penn State and got this from Ferentz, “When am I going to be old enough that you stop asking me about this [bleep].”
He’ll be 58 in August. This is a business that always ends with “never say never.” It never hurts to ask, but this just doesn’t make sense.