Four days into the newest round of Kirk Ferentz NFL rumors, here is what we know:
1. Marty Tirrell remains really bad at the whole "journalism" thing.
We thought the Ferentz-Chiefs rumors were dead Sunday night when Peter King said that Cap'n Execution would not be considered for the Kansas City job. The rumors went into full-on zombie mode Monday when Des Moines radio schlub Marty Tirrell reported that Ferentz would, in fact, meet with Chiefs' officials Wednesday:
Of course, nobody told the Chiefs, as they spent nine hours with Andy Reid in Philadelphia Wednesday. I suppose Ferentz could have met with them over Skype, but even Joe Paterno was more savvy than the man who has repeatedly told reporters of his disgust for social media. Maybe he flew to Philadelphia and helped interview Andy Reid.
2. The Reid meeting isn't all good news.
The biggest change in the calculus behind a potential Ferentz candidacy was the change in the importance of the Pioli-Ferentz relationship. The old equation was "Pioli's on the ropes + Pioli is total BFFs with Ferentz + Ferentz comes to the rescue of his old friend = PROFIT". That's why, when reports surfaced that Pioli might not survive as Kansas City general manager and/or Chiefs ownership was taking a hands-on approach to the search to the exclusion of Pioli, we thought this was over. Without Pioli in the equation, there was no route to Ferentz.
Arrowhead Pride's recap of the Reid meeting correctly identifies an important issue: Scott Pioli was in the meeting.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is involved, according to the report. Pioli was said to have been involved in the Dirk Koetter interview in Atlanta as well. I don't know what to make of this but, if we are to believe Clark Hunt, there is a scenario where a new head coach is hired and Pioli stays. If that's the case, it makes sense he's involved in the process.
Pioli being in the meeting -- and likely in the decision-making machinery -- is a fundamental requirement for Ferentz to remain in play. It's not a condition sufficient, but it's a condition necessary.
3. Bloodpunch is a man of few words.
Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register emailed Gary Barta for any information related to the Ferentz rumors. He got exactly three words back:Q: Has Kirk informed you that he plans to talk to anyone about another coaching position?
Q: Has Kirk informed you that he plans to talk to anyone about another coaching position?
Q: Has anyone asked to interview him?
Q: Do you anticipate Kirk being Iowa's coach next season?
I suppose that takes care of the questions.
4. Kirk Ferentz is nobody's first choice. Then again, neither are Kansas City nor Cleveland.
The problem with the rumors from this weekend, and especially the Tirrell Twitter flap, is that it presupposes that the embattled general manager of the NFL's worst team would turn to a 57-year-old college head coach who just went 4-8 and has won more than eight regular season games once in nine years. If Scott Pioli signed Kirk Ferentz as the Chiefs' new head coach just days into the process, he might as well join witness protection.
There is no scenario where Kirk Ferentz is hired right away for any job. There remains a distinct possibility that Ferentz is a Plan B, or Plan C, or Plan M for the two jobs he is most frequently connected to, Kansas City and Cleveland. These are two franchises that are long removed from anything resembling success, located in towns that generate as little excitement as possible. These are not top jobs at the moment.
Any veteran of coaching searches knows that a coaching search can, and often does, go haywire. A franchise puts all its eggs in one walrus-shaped basket, maybe after a nine-hour meeting, and when that walrus picks Arizona a week later, the rest of the top-tier options are either off the table or unwilling to be Plan B for a moribund franchise. Before you know it, the scramble is on, and that scramble only ends when a potential coach (1) sees value in the franchise for some individualized reason, and (2) doesn't mind being the fourth or fifth option. It's what happened when Iowa last hired a basketball coach: Iowa chased one guy who turned them down, found out they were too late for the next two guys on their list, and ended up with a coach they hadn't heavily pursued who had personal affection for the program.
The same could well happen here. Could Scott Pioli hire Kirk Ferentz right now? Maybe, but he probably wouldn't be employed for much longer. Could he hire Kirk Ferentz after Andy Reid goes tilting at windmills and his other options are all headed elsewhere? Absolutely, and Kirk Ferentz likely puts more value on the Kansas City Chiefs job than anyone else solely due to the presence of Scott Pioli. The same could go for Cleveland, where the Browns are chasing a handful of coaches who are also interviewing elsewhere, and where Ferentz spent the three most important developmental years of his professional life.
5. It doesn't make any sense for Ferentz, unless it does.
As usual, Morehouse is right: A move to Kansas City doesn't make much sense for Kirk Ferentz.
Pioli's status throws doubt on this. To say he's embattled is a tremendous undersell. The Chiefs haven't confirmed reports that he will even be back. So, there's that.
Plus, Ferentz has a contract that will pay him $3.7 to $3.8 million through the 2019 season. There is no buy out. If Iowa would fire Ferentz without cause, the athletics department would owe him $19.95 million to be paid in equal monthly installments over the life of the deal. That would be $237,000 a month through January 2020.
The Chiefs could replace the money, but with Pioli on the ropes would owner Clark Hunt allow him to hire a third head coach in the five-year, $20 million range? Probably not. Owners are owners because they're good with money.
We all know Kirk Ferentz is going to make giant boats full of money over the last seven years of his contract at Iowa. However, it's extremely unlikely that Kirk actually finishes out the seven years of that deal. Without an extension after 2017, he'll run into the aging lame duck problem that Hayden Fry had late. At that point, either Ferentz will have had the success to justify another extension -- probably at a discount -- or he'll resign, because I'm relatively sure he won't coach with an expiration date certain. That means he has five years, so is a four-year, $18 million deal really that much different?
Which brings us to the other considerations. Yes, Ferentz has familial ties to Iowa City; two of his sons are involved in the program, and a daughter lives locally. But Ferentz no longer has the obligations of dependent children. He doesn't have to keep his kids in the same school. He doesn't have to maintain that big house. He and Mary are empty nesters, and a lot of empty nesters move. That's just the way it is.
There is also something to be said for the fact that Kirk's two closest allies -- Ken and Norm -- are gone, and Ken (now with a year of NFL experience on a surprisingly solid Miami team) could come with him wherever he goes. And for a man who is so dedicated to execution, who is clearly annoyed by the limitations on what he can do perfectly with his limited practice time every week, and who has never been a fan of recruiting, a move to "total football" with players focused on little more than football could be the ultimate destination.
The point is: We really don't know what Kirk's motivations are, especially at this transitional point. The money makes more sense than it does on its face, and the non-money factors could make it preferable.
6. Lamar Hunt and Scott Pioli flew commercial.
Who would have thought the owner and general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs would fly with a regional carrier?
7. Ian Rapaport, accidentally breaking Iowa coaching news.
Many of the initial reports came from NFL insiders, including NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who disclosed rumors that Iowa assistant coaches are out looking for work:
This coincides with rumors we've been hearing for weeks that some Iowa assistants are out actively looking for other employment. Regardless of what happens with Ferentz, coaching changes are coming for this staff just as soon as some guys can find other jobs. Knowing how Ferentz operates, the announcement will come in mid-March.