Ferentz Shares Fry Stories

July 30, 2011

Written by Jon Miller

Hawkeye Nation

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Q: I heard you have Skyped.

Kirk Ferentz: I have been on it.

Q: Are you texting now?

Ferentz: Hell no. Are you kidding me? I read them all the time. I get them from my wife.

Q: Do you think you ever will?

Ferentz: No. Absolutely not. I might ask my wife to text my daughter or son. I thin texting has a place. I am still trying to figure out the value of twitter. What an absurd concept. The skying, I Skyped a conference in Ames, a group of students this past year. It malfunctioned twice during the conference and my session was 10 minutes. I Skyped with a student on our campus in some career thing. It was fun. I think I have Skyped with one or two prospects. It didn’t gain any notoriety.

Q: You let your coaches use twitter.

Ferentz: Well, we have a program. Is Eric’s name on that?

Q: I think it is.

Ferentz: I am OK with that. That is why you have young guys on your staff.

Q: How did you contain Nico Law this summer?

Ferentz: He is a Hawkeye now. That is the way it goes.

Q: Do you have a black and white social media policy for your players?

Ferentz: Yeah. You have to remind them every now and then. I don’t think we need to be twittering. The biggest message I give them is that any social media they choose to use…I have nothing against it, even though I don’t understand the phenomenon…but that is just me, I still like to talk to people face to face or on the phone. If they use it, I remind them that anything they do they have to consider to be public. This friend stuff, what if your friend is not your friend. Whatever you do, it might be a season ticket holder or a future boss or someone’s office you are sitting in ten years from now where you have some explaining to do. When you are 18 or 20 you don’t think that way, why would you. Thank goodness people don’t know what we know about all players today when we were that age. It’s not all that fun to be a college kid anymore.

Q: How would Hayden fared with twitter?

Ferentz: I remember when we started using VCR’s. That was entertaining. It came with a remote. Whoo. That was good.

Q: Earlier you said that the notion of Hayden being this wide open coach was a shell game.

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Ferentz: It was a total shell game. His exotics, all that stuff we would do. In the Purdue game, we ran the same plays. In 1981 we went into a spread, split the backs, the crowd went crazy…we ran the same plays. If you looked at it, a lot of the stuff he did, he would do when we were winning 38-0. Wow, ahhh! That 1 vs 2 game against Michigan? He wasn’t doing that. Don’t turn it over and play good defense. That is how you win big games. It usually comes down to execution of the things that are important, and not beating yourself. He had everyone thinking. It was comical to me. It still is. He would call it an exotic. Who in the heck calls that stuff exotics. Screens were convoys. He was a genius that way. He could sell anything. He has done OK.

Q: Do you think he would enjoy coaching now in this media age?

Ferentz: He would enjoy anything. He is like Coach Paterno. That is why he is a legendary Hall of Fame coach. He could adapt to anything . When I came to interview, there was not internet. They had a blue book back then of all the college programs. All I knew was he was a square jawed Texan ex Marine. So I got a haircut and put on a tie.

Q: He tells a story that you lied about your age in your job interview with him. Is that true?

Ferentz: Absolutely not. That is another one of his stories, which he still tells. It’s a good story. he could tell stories.

Q: Also liked to give us wrong information and see it in paper.

Ferentz: I think he laughed every night. He used to do that every day..he would do something in our staff rooms and I know he laughed when he went in the hall cause he would have us talking to ourselves. He has a good time everywhere he goes.

Q: The two of you understand program continuity…look at what Michigan has gone through, and what you expect out of them?

Ferentz: Trouble. In a word, trouble. They were a much better team last year in my opinion. They have the potential to be very good real fast, like this year. We coached against Brady at Ball State a few years back. They were not very good the year we played them but several years later they ran the table and we saw them on film that year. Very well coached team before he went to San Diego State. Last December, the tape that helped us the most preparing for missouri was San Diego State. I have known Greg Mattison for a long time, and have watched Brady from afar. They have good players, a tremendous staff and they will do very well. WRite it down that will happen.

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Q: Are we going to see more of an old school Michigan?

Ferentz: I would bet on it. I know what Greg believes in defensively, I know the kind of coach he is and I have seen his work. I have seen what Brady has done at his last two stops. They will line up and be tough. They have good players. To me it’s going to be a real challenge or us in the years ahead like it always has been.

Q: How challenging will it be for Denard Robinson to go from the spread to a pro offense?

Ferentz: My guess is he will do well and my guess is they will steer it to what works for him. We have all seen he is a dynamic player and a great leader. They will play to his strengths. He is a great football player. They will be OK, don’t worry about them.

Q: There are only 15 minutes left in this session, we have been here for nearly two hours. Is it disappointing when certain media members that were very critical of you this winter, who are here, have had a chance to come talk to you face to face and don’t do it?

Ferentz: I have to think about that one for a minute.(laughs)

Q: It seems like someone that has a chance to talk with you that took a critical position might want to do it face to face?

Ferentz: I can only think of two individuals. The one guy I wouldn’t know if he walked up to me today. He’d have to introduce himself. I have had conversations with another individual. We are moving on.

Q: I haven’t heard anything about Rhadbo today from anyone.

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Ferentz: I had one question at the end of yesterday and that has been it.

Q: Are you surprised by that?

Ferentz: No. I was hopeful. As I told all the Iowa folks back in the spring, we were done talking about it after the spring game. I had to correct the individual yesterday, everyone was cleared and ready to go at spring practice and no one transferred despite some of the theories. No one is minimizing anything that happened. It was pretty apparent to us pretty quickly that things would be fine. We have treated it appropriately and it’s yesterday’s news. I did think an out of town question or two would come up.

Q: How much growth should we expect to see James Morris from last to this year, given his experience.

Ferentz: When I was on the lecture circuit this spring, we had three freshmen that played prominent roles. Meyers, Coker and Morris. I expect all three to be a lot better this year. There is nothing harder than your first year in college, for all of us. If you are playing sports, that is hard. Having some familiarity and comfort level will be a big thing for all of those guys. In James’ position, he is a switchboard guy, it will be a great thing for him. He works like a dog at it. I think it will be all good for him. We have high hopes for him. All three of those guys think right and have great attitudes and I expect them all to be better.

Q: How important is it for Norm making it through the entire season?

Ferentz: It’s real important. There is a reason he is our coordinator. I can’t say enough about the job the others did last year when Norm wasn’t here. He is a huge chunk of what we are.

Q: There has to have been some distractions…

Ferentz: It’s tricky. To get him back at the end of the year was great. Moving forward, it is what it is. He is diabetic. I know he is older than he was 10 years ago. Those are realities. I have encouraged Norm to examine his lifestyle, his work habits. Sometimes you can’t do what you did when you are 35. We don’t need that from him. We need his wisdom and expertise. What we have now from him is doable. I am trying to encourage him to be smart about what he is doing so he can run the whole race. I am not 35 anymore either. We all make adjustments. I wish I could eat what I ate 25 years ago but I can’t. Norm is hard headed.

Q: I imagine he is not a compliant patient.

Ferentz: It has been a challenge. Last year got his attention a little bit. He needs to give himself a chance to be there the entire way, because we need him. Once we get going, his competitiveness kicks in. Is there a way to shut your door and take a nap? My mentor did that when he was 35 and take a nap for a half hour. I wish I could do that. Norm is getting some exercise. He looks great right now. I know what is awaiting us, and you have to be smart.

Q: After the Insight Bowl was over, on the field, Norm had been wheeled down there in a chair and the two of you shared a long embrace. Where does that moment rank for you?

Ferentz: You know..it was awfully good…(pauses…fighting back emotion). The Georgia Tech moment was pretty good too (pause)…it was a pretty good performance. In light of all the circumstances from last year, it was just good to have him back.

Q: He pressed the buttons in that game, ran a lot of people in and out.

Ferentz: It wasn’t like we stonewalled them (laughs).

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