TAMPA, Fla. — Kirk Ferentz and Les Miles conducted separate news conferences early Tuesday, a day before their teams meet in the Outback Bowl.
Ferentz showed up in “real people” clothes, an Iowa polo. Miles strode in with country club casual, no tie but a sport coat. Never mind that, though. These are two very different football worlds.
Ferentz was asked about recruiting. I think the LSU world is fascinated by how teams from Iowa’s stratosphere in BCS football put its teams together. Think about it. Iowa’s leading rusher began his career as a fullback who couldn’t make his bed at the Air Force Academy.
No, if you’re Iowa, you can’t open the phone book blindly and plant your finger and say, “Playa!”
“Every year is an adventure, every game is an adventure, we’ll worry about that when we get to it,” Ferentz on his immediate recruiting thoughts (remember, this is the day of the walk-through and just more than 24 hours before kicking off against an NFL satellite team. “We want to finish this season off in the best possible way and what that comes down to is us playing our best football. That’s what it’s going to take to have a chance to beat LSU tomorrow.
“We feel good about the way the guys are working and thinking. The seniors leaving us have set a great example of how to do things. I just hope all the young guys are paying attention and they’re willing to show that same kind of leadership a year from now.”
Iowa football is the right mix of personnel and then a winning vibe that radiates from a core of NFL-caliber players. LSU is more of a study in management. The Tigers have a large core of NFL-calibers every season. Miles can open the phone book and yell “Playa!” LSU is going to wade into seven or eight wins every year no matter what. From there, it’s winning vibe, leadership and Miles beating Nick Saban to the national championship parking spot.
This is not a blithe generalization. This is reality programming. You look at the stratification in Major League Baseball. If you’re a Royals fan, you enjoy the beer and hope to wildcard into the postseason. If you’re the Yankees, you expect the World Series.
Ferentz didn’t totally engage the recruiting question. Iowa is doing fine. It has 18 commitments with maybe a few more. Going by Rivals rankings, the Hawkeyes are No. 53 in the country, with Louisville and Washington State.
Iowa isn’t the Royals. When the vibe is there and the mix is right and a core group of NFL caliber players develop, Iowa wins. Ferentz has shown Iowa can win big. So, maybe the Twins when they were winning. Or the Cardinals. Definitely not the Yankees.
Miles also was asked about recruiting.
Rivals has the Tigers already ranked sixth in the country. LSU has six commitments from players ranked in Rivals top 100. Iowa has . . . you know . . . zero.
The recruiting buzz for LSU is Thursday’s Under Armour All-American game. Miles has the Tigers in it for five prospects playing in that game: receiver Devante “Speedy” Noil and defensive lineman Gerald Willis of Karr, St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, and cornerback Tony Brown and safety Jamal Adams, both of Texas.
Miles has the phone book open. We can debate what MLB team Iowa is all day. (Pirates? Maybe now?) LSU is the Yankees. There is no debate.
Miles will be watching the game, which will be televised by one of the ESPNs. He admitted to some nerves.
“I will probably be television side,” Miles said. “I will probably be chewing on a little popcorn. I’ll have a cell phone or two handy.”
No need for a phone book when recruits have you on speed dial.
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