Before you judge Kirk Ferentz, take a look at his circumstances.
That’s how Gerry DiNardo of the Big Ten Network explained his defense of Iowa’s football coach.
Earlier this summer, Ferentz was listed among the five worst coaches nationally by SI.com.
“I would disagree with that take,” DiNardo said. “I would say of all the coaches I’ve been around, I think Ferentz is one of the best.”
DiNardo and the BTN crew visited the Hawkeyes’ practice Tuesday morning as part of their summer tour.
It gave them a chance to see Iowa’s latest upgrades, and put things in perspective.
“I think there are always issues that go on, on campus, that those of us who live off campus don’t really know,” DiNardo said. “There has been an arms race for several years. Iowa is late to the party.
“They just built an indoor facility. My goodness. How many years have indoor facilities been around?”
None of that seemed to matter when Ferentz guided the Hawkeyes to four top 10 finishes in the Associated press poll from 2002-09, but such shortcomings were magnified after last season’s 4-8 mark.
“I think the landscape of recruiting has changed, with early commits and the importance of unofficial visits,” DiNardo said. “Iowa is in a state that doesn’t have a lot of in-state talent. It’s not easy to get to.
“And so, the landscape of recruiting has changed, but the rules of recruiting haven’t. We have a world that is round, but recruiting rules that are flat.
“And that hurts a place like Iowa.”
DiNardo’s own coaching career took him from Vanderbilt to Louisiana State to Indiana.
He was 33-24-1 with the Tigers and 8-27 with the Hoosiers.
“(Ferentz) is a guy who has had success,” DiNardo said. “Now, as the world’s changed, you have to change with the world. I’m not sure that always happens, and there is no way of us knowing off campus.
“So I don’t think it’s as simple as (taking) someone’s record and rating them as a coach.”
DiNardo says Iowa’s current team continues to improve.
“My big takeaway is, it looks like they’re in good shape in the box, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “If you look at them offensively, their line is a good line. They’ve got their depth back at tailback. They have some talent at wide receiver.
“If you look at defense, it’s kind of the same thing. They’re OK in the box, linebackers and D-line. They’re going to need to stop explosive plays with the secondary.”
Most of the offseason chatter has been about the quarterbacks. Jake Rudock appears to be the front-runner, but none of the three candidates has taken a snap for the Hawkeyes.
“Until they settle at quarterback, it’s an issue,” DiNardo said. “We don’t know who it’s going to be, although it looks like Jake.”
That could cause a snag in planning for the Aug. 31 opener against Northern Illinois, but DiNardo expects teammates to adjust to whoever gets the nod.
“Guys are pretty resilient,” he said. “Everybody kind of has their own problems and their own issues.
“They’ll like C.J. (Beathard), and they’ll like Jake. Especially at Iowa, I think they totally trust the coaches.
“Kids just don’t worry about stuff like that. Kind of business as usual.”
The BTN will air a preview show devoted to the Hawkeyes at 7 p.m. Sunday.