Former Iowa baseball player Jeff Wick is used to waking up long before sunrise on many Fridays in the fall.
He did it again this Friday with plenty of encouragement as usual from his 5-year old son, Brady Wick.
“My son will literally wake me up at quarter after four in the morning and say, ‘Daddy, daddy, is it time for breakfast with Herky yet?’” Jeff Wick said. “And he hasn’t missed one of these since he was 2.”
Wick was referring to the Johnson County I-Club breakfast event, which is the Friday morning before each Iowa home football game.
Wick and his son were among hundreds of Iowa fans who packed into the ballroom at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Iowa City to eat breakfast and listen to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz talk about today’s game against No. 22 Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium.
Fans received a bonus with Ferentz being introduced by Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery, who just the day before had attended Big Ten basketball media day in Chicago.
“Every time I come to this breakfast, I’m continually amazed,” said McCaffery, who is entering his fourth season as the Iowa coach. “I remember the first time they asked me to come and I had no idea what I was going to experience. But I think it truly epitomizes who were are and what true Hawks are.
“And I just want everybody in this room to know how much I appreciate and how much our players appreciate your tremendous support.”
McCaffery then gave a brief update on his team, which is being picked to finish in the upper half of the Big Ten, before introducing Ferentz.
“I can tell you, it’s a lot more pleasant than it was three years ago when we were picked eleventh,” McCaffery said. “It’s never good to be picked lower than the name of your conference. But we’re picked a lot higher this year.”
McCaffery referred to Ferentz as his good friend and shared a story about a conversation they had on the day McCaffery was hired at Iowa in late March 2010.
“The day that I was hired I met Kirk and he said, ‘Anytime I can help you, don’t hesitate to call,’” McCaffery said. “A lot of people say things and don’t always follow through. But we have become very good friends, and I admire his coaching.”
McCaffery reminded fans that Iowa’s three losses this season have come against teams with a combined record of 23-1.
“I think it speaks to where our program is,” said McCaffery, who also predicted an Iowa victory over the Badgers.
McCaffery praised Ferentz for always staying the course and for helping to make last weekend more enjoyable by defeating Northwestern 17-10 in overtime. Iowa prevailed when sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock completed an 8-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in overtime.
“The thing that’s been impressive to me is how he has continued to just plow ahead, stick with the game plan and next man in and continue to build something special,” McCaffery said of Ferentz, who is in his 15th season as the Iowa coach. “Like so many of us, I was fired up last weekend. We had a ton of people in our box and a ton of recruits on campus. Everybody was going crazy with winning an overtime game and playing like we did.
“But I think what you’re seeing is us continuing to improve and continuing to be consistent. I love our quarterback. Jake has been impressive to me since our opening game.”
Ferentz thanked McCaffery for taking time out of his busy schedule to attend Friday’s event, which started at 7 a.m.
“He was in Chicago (Thursday) for the Big Ten media event and then did some recruiting afterward,” Ferentz said. “Their schedule, as you may imagine, makes football schedules look kind of sane. I’m always amazed at just the pace that they keep.
“I think all of us share in the enthusiasm with what’s going on with basketball right now. It’s so much fun to watch that team develop and grow.”
Ferentz’s team also has shown growth this season and will bring a 5-3 record into today’s game. Iowa finished 4-8 last season and hasn’t played Wisconsin since losing 31-30 in 2010.
“We know the fans will be ready, so it’s our job to pick up where we left off (against Northwestern),” Ferentz said.