As frustrating as it is for the media and for fans, Kirk Ferentz is smart to say nothing publicly about the rumors linking him to NFL jobs.
It’s not often that a college head coming off a 4-8 season gets mentioned for an NFL job, but Ferentz is an exception. Even if the rumor about Ferentz being a candidate for the Kansas City Chiefs head coaching position isn’t true, which now seems to be the case, it still fuels the perception that Ferentz is wanted by the NFL.
I thought on Sunday when the rumor exploded there was about a 50-50 chance that the 57-year old Ferentz might give the NFL a shot before it was too late. I’m now thinking there’s about a 90 percent chance that Ferentz stays put because of the new circumstances in Kansas City and because of the circumstances in Iowa City.
You never say never in a case like this, but the only way I thought Ferentz might land in Kansas City is if his close friend, Scott Pioli, kept his job as the Chiefs’ general manager and was allowed to hire the next head coach.
Pioli’s hasn’t lost his job – at least, not yet – but his power has been greatly diminished in that Pioli won’t be picking the new head coach in Kansas City.
And why should he?
Why should Pioli have the final say in hiring a new head coach when his job could be in jeopardy? It makes no sense to have somebody who might not be a part of the future make a decision that would greatly impact the future.
Nothing against Ferentz, but he would be a tough sell to any NFL fan base right now because of Iowa’s current skid, which includes losing 17 of the last 29 games dating back to late in the 2010 season. Ferentz is still highly respected by NFL decision makers, but fans care way more about what his teams have done on the field lately and they’re the ones making the decision to buy tickets.
Ferentz could help squash the rumors by just saying publicly that he fully intends to be at Iowa for a 15th season.
But that would shift the focus back to the problems on the field, problems like the six-game losing streak to end the 2012 season, the sputtering offense under new coordinator Greg Davis and a defense that unraveled down the stretch.
And why should Ferentz set the record straight when the rumor mill is so willing to promote him as somebody the NFL has long coveted?
Don’t let Ferentz’s self-deprecating personality fool you; he’s an astute businessman, and his agent, Neil Cornrich, is as shrewd and as determined as they come as evidenced by Ferentz’s lucrative contract.
And it’s not as if a head coach’s word means much these days, although, Ferentz seems about as genuine and sincere as they come in his profession. Ferentz would rather not say anything than stretch or bend the truth, especially when not saying anything helps his image.
Staying silent doesn’t necessarily hurt recruiting, either, because Ferentz is almost certainly doing damage control behind the scenes. He also can use the rumors to his advantage by telling recruits that he appreciates the attention and the admiration, but his allegiance is with Iowa and he has 14 years of service to prove it, nearly a quarter of a century of service if you count the nine seasons Ferentz spent as an Iowa assistant coach.
Ferentz doesn’t have to stay silent in order to have more negotiating power with Iowa because he already has all the power well into retirement age. He’s staying silent because it’s how he always handles these kinds of situations, but it also helps to create a nice distraction.
At last count there were seven NFL head coaching vacancies that need to be filled. Some of them almost certainly will be filled by recycling head coaches who just got fired from NFL jobs, with Andy Reid and Lovie Smith expected to lead that process.
NFL guru John Clayton, who works for ESPN, didn’t mention Ferentz when asked on SportsCenter to name three college head coaches who could be targeted by NFL teams. Clayton instead mentioned two Kellys – Chip from Oregon and Brian from Notre Dame – along with Penn State coach Bill O’Brien.
It’s also being reported that Syracuse coach Doug Marrone will interview for at least two NFL jobs.
Clayton referred to Brian Kelly as a sleeper candidate, but the fact that Clayton didn’t mention Ferentz might suggest that Ferentz has been removed from the A-list of college candidates.
Or it could mean that I’m reaching for anything to offset Ferentz’s silence.
That’s the risk in trying to predict something like this because only a select few know what Ferentz really thinks and what NFL executives really think about Ferentz.
He’s probably thinking, keep it up media. As long as Ferentz stays silent and the NFL rumors persist, he looks pretty good, at least until spring practice starts.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football