Kirk Ferentz’s seat is no longer described as being hot by pundits. An 8-4 season and a seventh January bowl has helped solidify his job as Iowa’s head coach for years to come.
Now the discussion can rightfully shift to: Could Ferentz end up as the most successful football coach in Hawkeye history?
If Ferentz doesn’t pull a shocker and depart (his name will emerge at Penn State if Bill O’Brien leaves) or retire (at 58, he’s four years younger than Alabama’s Nick Saban): Yes.
Hayden Fry carries the (black and) gold standard for success and longevity. Fry has three BCS-level bowl appearances (all Roses) to Ferentz’s two (both Oranges). And Fry restored relevancy and innovation to a once-proud program that was dormant for decades.
But if the Hawkeyes beat LSU in Wednesday’s Outback Bowl, Ferentz will pass Fry with his seventh bowl victory at Iowa. That would give the Captain 109 wins through 15 seasons; Fry had 143 at Iowa in 20 seasons.
It’s not at all a stretch to think Ferentz would coach another five years and average at least seven wins a year and become Iowa’s all-time winningest coach by 2018. (Have you looked at Iowa’s 2014 schedule? Truly, the Hawkeyes might be favored in all 12 games.)
Ferentz gets criticism; some is warranted. His game management drives Hawkeye fans bonkers. But his teams almost always crescendo come November — last season’s 4-8 stinker being an exception.
Ferentz-coached Iowa teams have been in the AP’s season-ending top 10 four times — with three eighths and a seventh. The best Fry did with his 20 Hawkeye outfits? Tenth (twice).
The Fry-vs.-Ferentz debate is now topical. If Ferentz finishes his career as well as his Hawkeyes close seasons — and he ties Fry with a third Big Ten title along the way — he’ll make a very compelling case.
Contact Register sports editor Chad Leistikow at (515) 284-8321 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadLeistikow
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football