Ferentz, Doyle & Des Moines Hoops

April 19, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

I had the honor of being the emcee at the Polk County I-Club Spring Banquet on Tuesday night in Des Moines.  It’s one of my favorite nights of the year, seeing so many Iowa fans coming together under one roof and exchanging stories, meeting old friends and making new ones.

This year’s event was attended by well over 1,000 Iowa fans, one of the best turnouts for this event I have seen, and I have been either attending and/or emceeing the event since 2002.  The photo atop this item was my view from the stage an hour before we began the program.

One of the reasons this event is near the top of my ‘favorite things’ list is the opportunity I get back in the green room to chew the fat with players and coaches, away from a traditional media Q&A setting.  It’s enjoyable making small talk with folks that you normally have a microphone in front of, get to know them better and trade stories about family.

Terry Brands was in tow on Tuesday night, and whenever a Brands is present at one of these events, laughter is not far behind.  Both Terry and Tom are incredibly thankful and appreciative of the support they get from Iowa fans and they always make a point to let folks know that.

I was telling Terry that I was going to talk a bit about their season, and how impressive it was to see how far the program came this year from finishing 4th at The Midlands to having another unbeaten dual meet season, beating Penn State in their dual meet at Happy Valley and finishing 3rd at nationals despite starting the season with eight holes in their roster from the year before, in addition to the preseason injury to Dylan Carew.  He did his best to ‘thank’ me for those sentiments, but it was clear he was uncomfortable hearing them.

“I hear what you are saying, but that is not what we are about,” Brands said, respectfully.  He reiterated that sentiment on the dais later that night.

Former Hawkeye Ryan Bowen represented the Basketball program and shared an anecdote or two and did a solid job…I spoke with a few folks from the athletic department and was able to announce on the stage that the final pieces are being put into place for the Dale Howard Classic, a basketball event to be held at Wells Fargo Arena where the Iowa Hawkeyes will play against Creighton this year.  The date has not been made public just yet.

After the event concluded, I asked Gary Barta if this was something they wanted to do on an annual basis, and he said it was, while at the same time saying they did not have any commitments yet in place for an opponent the next year.

My speculation: It might turn out to be something where Iowa plays a game at The Well in years where they host Drake, for an every other year at The Well event…however, I wouldn’t count out an every year affair at The Well, either.  This is great news for Central & Western Iowa Hawkeye fans and it’s a good marketing idea by Iowa.  With the program hopefully on its way out of a decade of substandard production, this is a way to bring the Hawkeyes to more fans in a part of the state that can provide a strong boost to ticket sales…

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Kirk Ferentz presented a few awards like he always does at this event, but one of them was a new award, sort of a ‘Coach’s Choice’ award as to the assistant coach of the year.  The inaugural recipient was Iowa Strength & Conditioning Coach Chris Doyle.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Coach Doyle and the program have taken a few shots in recent months related to the Rhabdomyolysis ‘outbreak’.  I suspect this award and the timing of it’s delivery was what baseball fans might call a purpose pitch; another public show of support and solidarity from Ferentz to the man who has had a HUGE hand in helping Iowa football grow into what it has become.

My guess is that if you privately polled former Iowa football players about which person in the program had the biggest impact on turning them into the best football player they could be, Chris Doyle would win the poll, and that is not intended to disrespect any other staff member.  Ferentz, Doyle, Norm Parker and other coaches each fills a role and each plays a part in the lives of their players.  That being said, the players are around Doyle more than any other coach and it’s not even close.

Doyle’s appearance and subsequent speech were the first comments from him, publicly, since the Rhabdo story broke.  He received a standing ovation from the crowd, the longest of the night….

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Also in attendance Tuesday night was Mary Ferentz, Kirk’s wife.  She talked about the new Ladies Football Clinic Event whose proceeds will go to the Iowa Children’s Hospital, an organization she is closely involved with.  You can read the story at this link.

Karl Klug, Jeff Tarpinian and Brett Greenwood were also honored Tuesday night, and it was nice getting a chance to chat with them off stage and take in a bit more of their personalities.

Ricky Stanzi was to have been in attendance but he had to cancel at the last moment; Stanzi is to be in Cleveland on Wednesday to work out and meet with the Browns.

Ferentz spoke with reporters before the event kicked off, and among the topics he gave answers to were the status of Willie Lowe and Adam Robinson.  Ferentz said the door remains open for Lowe to stay on the team and that he should know more in the next few weeks.

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As for a possible return to the team for Adam Robinson???  Here is the entire item, which includes this quote:

“I’ve talked to his mom,” Ferentz said. “My No. 1 focus for him is to do well academically, and then we’ll see where it takes him.” Is there a crack in the door? “We’ll see where he’s at at the end of the semester, and we’ll go from there,” Ferentz said.

My guess is if Robinson takes care of his work in the classroom and shows the desire to return to the program as well as doing so in a penitent way, the chances are 50/50.  That’s a far cry better than the odds I would have given you a few months ago.  That being said, I would also guess that Robinson will be assured of nothing and will likely be in a backup role to Marcus Coker.  Coker has far more upside than Robinson, however Robinson is one tough individual and if he ‘gets with the program’ and becomes a model student as well as having taken care of some of his judgement issues, he makes the team better.  But it’s just not that easy…we’ll see, but Ferentz certainly didn’t close the door. …

Members from 15 different Iowa sports teams took part in Sunday’s Day of Caring event in Iowa City...read this item for more details.

Finally, it looks like Iowa City is going to leave gameday vendors on Melrose alone, for the most part.

 

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