Bad news, gang. You know Kirk Ferentz, the Iowa head coach who's about to embark on his... jesus, his 15th year at the helm of the Hawkeye football team? The guy who makes close to $4 million a year and who's under contract until the year 2591 (roughly)? It turns out he's terrible. No, really terrible. No, like, one of the worst coaches in all of college football. Just ask Sports Illustrated.
Yep. One of the five worst. So let's think about what this means.
George O'Leary, the guy who lied to Notre Dame to get hired then heckled Ereck Plancher as he died on a practice field at UCF? Better than Ferentz.
Curtis Johnson, the guy who was a WR coach his entire career before Tulane hired him out of the blue and summarily went 2-10 last year? Better than Ferentz.
Dan McCarney, the guy who registered one winning conference record in 14 years of coaching and who hasn't cracked fifth place in two years in the Sun Belt? Better than Ferentz.
Jim Grobe, the guy who has somehow lasted 11 full seasons at Wake Forest despite racking up an overall losing record there and who hasn't even registered a single winning record since a roaring 8-5 campaign in 2008? Better than Ferentz.
Mike London, the guy who nose-dived five wins from the year prior (and that's with one of the lousiest wins in history, a 17-16 win over PSU where the opposing kicker missed 13 points worth of kicks) and has a .333 ACC career winning percentage? Better than Ferentz.
The dozens of coaches at non-BCS schools with one or fewer seasons at the helm? Well, they must be better than Ferentz too, just by default. Right? That's how this works?
Tim Beckman, the guy who—oh wait, Beckman's on the list of the five worst coaches too. Good, okay, the universe is still in order.
Look, we rag on Ferentz a lot here, but the bottom line is that calling him a bottom five coach in America is flatly ridiculous. Let's demonstrate.
Put yourself in Gary Barta's shoes. Hey, nice shoes! You have the opportunity to trade Ferentz and his contract for any other coach and his contract in D-I. You don't have to worry about any fallout from boosters or the Big Ten or whoever; this is strictly about improving your team on the field. There's no value in loyalty here; you can have whomever you want.
Now, think of the coaches who would be a downgrade from Ferentz. There's probably a whole lot more than four, right? Like way, way more than four. So what the hell's up with this ranking? It's not like Ferentz is Mack Brown, who recruits to Texas and still has underachieved on a level that probably exceeds Ferentz, all things considered. It's not like Ferentz has no track record of success to speak of. This is just some horseshit, half-baked opinion that some people can get away with because of who pays them. It's a shame.
UPDATE: Mandel has provided more context:
The amazing this is, in 2006, Ferentz was my No. 3 BEST coach in the country. http://t.co/bkeaNf3uul Since then he's gone 27-29 in B1G.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) July 8, 2013
So for the record: If you're one of Mandel's top 5 coaches then you post a record that's one game off of .500 over the next seven seasons, surprise! You're now one of the five worst coaches. That's a long, long way down for a coach who goes basically 50-50 in a zero-sum game.
Oh, and for the record: we're not complaining if Mandel says Ferentz is one of the most mediocre or overpaid coaches in the nation. Going 27-29 over the last seven years is basically the definition of mediocre. But "worst?" That case has not been made at all.
The example that bugs us the most among those above, by the way is Grobe. Not because he's the worst coach we've ever seen (though he's really not very good at all), but because even by Mandel's own weird and subjective criteria, Grobe is objectively worse than Ferentz. Ferentz had one great year, three mediocre ones and one very lousy year in his last five. Grobe went 8-5 five years ago and spent the last four years running a window-rattling fart noise of a football program. He is somehow absent from the list.
And to finish this one off, our favorite responses to the SI piece from Ye Olde Twittere:
@ScottDochterman "Take away that one 11-2 season and the Hawkeyes are 47-41 since 2005 ". take away '12 and they r 55-35. goofy math is fun— HawkfanBeau (@HawkfanBeau) July 8, 2013
Mandel on Ferentz in 2006: "His teams continue to exhibit the hallmark of good coaching:"— PlannedSickDays (@PlannedSickDays) July 8, 2013
Ferentz deserves some criticism-no doubt Iowa's underachieved relative to history/expectations-but Ferentz has 4 top 10s,1 in 2009.— Keith Murphy (@MurphyKeith) July 8, 2013