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Is this the year Ferentz goes to the NFL?

[ 0 ] December 30, 2012 |

The Iowa football team’s 4-8 season had just ended a few days earlier when somebody who doesn’t normally spread rumors called me to share a popular one about Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz.

It was the one about Ferentz leaving Iowa for an NFL head coaching job, the same rumor that’s been linked to Ferentz ever since he rebuilt the Iowa program more than a decade ago.

The scenario that was presented to me is that Ferentz would resign as the Iowa coach in early January to become the new coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.

I didn’t give much credence to it, even though the person sharing the rumor is somebody I highly respected and somebody who doesn’t normally get carried away with gossip.

But now a month later, the rumor just won’t go away. That was especially true Sunday morning, with several NFL insiders speculating about Ferentz’s future.

I’m used to disregarding Ferentz-to-the-NFL rumors mostly because none of them have been true up to this point; and because most of them didn’t make sense for reasons ranging from timing to fit.

It only takes one right fit at the right time for it to happen, though.

Kansas City would make sense, but only if Ferentz’s close friend, Scott Pioli, survives as the general manager of the organization.

It seems apparent that Romeo Crennel will be fired as the Kansas City head coach, perhaps as soon as Monday.

If Piolo stays, several NFL insiders are saying he’s going to bring in the coach he’s wanted from Day 1 – Ferentz.

From Ian Rapoport of the Rap Sheet via Twitter: “Pioli’s best chance to stay with Chiefs is to bring in Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. Hear Iowa coaches are calling around, inquiring about jobs.”

NFL.com reporter Gregg Rosenthal was reporting Sunday morning that Pioli is expected to keep his job. According to Rosenthal, Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt has strong feelings for Pioli and wants to give him one more chance.

Ferentz doesn’t have a buyout in his contract that an NFL team would have to pay in order to hire him. There is only a buyout if Ferentz is fired without cause.

So that’s one less thing to complicate matters.

I’m usually pretty confident in believing that Ferentz will stay at Iowa, where he is entering his 15th season as a head coach and 24th overall in the program. But now I’m probably thinking it’s a 50-50 chance at this stage, mostly because of the Pioli factor.

Ferentz would sacrifice lots of money by leaving Iowa, where he has a guaranteed contract through the 2019 season. But he’d also earn millions, work with a close friend and have a great pension by coaching in the NFL.

Ferentz’s decision probably wouldn’t be determined by money.

It’ll come down to finding the right fit and being able to walk away from a team, a college, a town and a fan base that’s been good to Ferentz over the years. Another thing to consider is that Ferentz’s youngest son, Steven, is also a redshirt freshman walk-on tight end for Iowa. Kirk Ferentz already has coached two of his sons from start to finish at Iowa, though. So maybe he’s thinking two out of three isn’t bad, especially if Steven has no problem with his dad leaving Iowa.

It also might come down to his window of opportunity, considering Kirk Ferentz isn’t getting any younger. He has addressed that issue before with the media.

“I don’t know what it would take to get me out of here,” Ferentz said to reporters a while back. “If you pinned me down; maybe the NFL when I’m 58. When you get your butt shot off when you’re 58, who cares. You’ll be 60 soon.”

Well, guess what? Ferentz will turn 58 in August.

Some believe that Ferentz wouldn’t leave the Iowa program after coming off a poor season because it’s against his nature and because he feels obligated to right the ship.

Believe what you want. But the truth is; most of us have no clue what Ferentz is thinking. He might be thinking it’s time to leave now because he’s done all he could at Iowa and would rather test the NFL than rebuild the Hawkeye program for a third time. He also might be concerned that another losing season at Iowa would make it hard for an NFL team to hire him.

Some Iowa fans also question why Ferentz would leave just a year after hiring his oldest son Brian to coach the Iowa offensive line.

Ferentz would leave because he’d take Brian with him, a father-and-son package deal that Pioli gladly would embrace.

Kirk and Brian are highly respected in NFL circles after working as assistant coaches at that level.

It seems unlikely that Ferentz would let this drag out if he is planning to leave because that could derail Iowa’s recruiting efforts. If Kansas City wants Ferentz and he wants Kansas City, look for it to happen sooner rather than later.

Some Iowa fans say that Ferentz’s business-like approach is better suited for the NFL than it is for college. That sentiment seems to grow after a disappointing season.

Perhaps, we’ll soon find out.

Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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