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Ferentz, Stoops share a rare distinction

[ 1 ] December 27, 2011 |

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — They’re relics in this vagabond world that is college football coaching. They’re survivors in its here-today, gone-tomorrow environment.

And at 9 p.m. Friday, the lone holdovers from the Coaching Class of ’99 will be on opposite sidelines during the 23rd Insight Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz.

“I guess you can say we’re a dying breed,” said Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, who will oppose Iowa and coach Kirk Ferentz in the ESPN-televised game.

Stoops and Ferentz have remained at their respective schools, while the other 19 hired 13 seasons ago have gone elsewhere.

“Hopefully this will be the place he retires,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said of Ferentz.

While Ferentz and Stoops have continued to call Iowa and Oklahoma their respective homes, the scenes for others hired in 1999 have changed.

Jerry Baldwin coached at Louisiana-Lafayette for three seasons. After four seasons, Dennis Erickson left Oregon State and Rick Neuheisel parted ways with Washington.

Randy Edsall would be in the Ferentz-Stoops category — had he not left Connecticut for Maryland after the 2010 season.

“Stoops and Ferentz are both well-grounded family men who know what’s im<FZ,1,1,34>portant, and they focus on it,” said Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com college football writer. “Both have a quiet magnetism about them. Both have been smart to understand that their grass is pretty green.”

Stoops, 51, has crafted a 138-34 record at Oklahoma that included a 91-22 mark in the Big 12 Conference.

Ferentz, 56, has a 96-65 record — and is 57-47 in the Big Ten.

“Kirk’s long tenure at Iowa is a result of sustained success on the field, his commitment to student-athletes graduating, a shared value system with the university, and a genuine desire by him and Mary (Ferentz’s wife) to live and work in Iowa,” Barta said.

“He’s been a part of this program as an assistant and head coach for more than 20 years. He’s a great fit — and that’s an understatement.”

Others, however, have been more mobile.

David Cutcliffe has been a head or assistant coach at Notre Dame, Tennessee and Duke since his 1999 Mississippi hiring. Erickson has made stops with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, and with Idaho and Arizona State. Neuheisel has coached at a high school, the Baltimore Ravens and UCLA.

Meanwhile, two coachs from the Class of 1999 have been mainstays.

“There aren’t too many coaches anymore that either enjoy such sustained success to stay 13 years without getting fired, or many that resist the temptation to jump to other coaching jobs,” said Stewart Mandel of SI.com. “Certainly, Ferentz and Stoops have both had ample opportunities to move on.

“Clearly they’re rare breeds.”

They’re also well-compensated rare breeds — Ferentz’s yearly salary is $3.78 million, while the USA Today college coaching salary database pegs Stoops at $4.07 per season.

The only 2011 bowl coaches earning more than Stoops are Texas’ Mack Brown ($5.19 million) and Alabama’s Nick Saban ($4.83 million). Louisiana State’s Les Miles is at $3.85 million, followed next by Ferentz.

“Kirk’s leadership is invaluable,” Barta said, “and our success in football has a direct and significant impact on all of our other 23 sports.”

Brown has been at Texas since 1998, Saban has led Alabama since 2007, and Miles has coached LSU since 2005.

Ferentz and Stoops are fourth in longevity among active FBS coaches — behind Virginia Tech’s Frank Beamer, Troy’s Larry Blakeney and Texas’ Mack Brown.

“Why leave a good job?” Ferentz wondered when asked about coaching loyalty. “Iowa City — it’s our home.”

To which Maisel said: “That’s a rare commodity in a business peopled by strivers.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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