CLEAR LAKE, IA -- Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz spoke at Clear Lake's Surf Ballroom Tuesday night, and desperately attempted to avoid drawing comparisons between his offense and the plane crash that made the music venue famous. "I really don't see the parallels," he told one I-Club member in attendance.
The Surf Ballroom gained notoriety as the location of the final concert ever performed by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Hours after the show, the three musicians were killed in a plane crash, a story retold in the Don McLean classic "American Pie." But Ferentz cautioned that anyone wishing to compare his 2012 offense, which finished 113th nationally in scoring, to the famous plane crash was grasping at straws.
"No, I do not think the day I hired Greg Davis was 'The Day the Offense Died', sir," Ferentz said in response to a spectator question. He later refused to endorse an impromptu memorial being built by Iowa fans at the spot where Wisconsin executed a fake punt in 2010, and denied that the iconic musicians should have changed pilots before their fateful flight.
"In fact, Buddy Holly kept using the same pilot throughout that tour despite the fact that the pilot had been having some troubles in recent flights. That pilot had guided them to victory -- I mean, a safe landing -- in a driving rainstorm in Lansing, like, nine weeks before. He deserved to keep piloting that plane no matter how many crashes he caused."
Ferentz, who has come under increasing scrutiny after going 4-8 behind one of the worst offenses in the history of organized football last season, eventually was drawn into a discussion of the historic accident.
"If there's one thing I take away from the Big Bopper plane crash, it's the folly of going airborne in the first place," said Ferentz. "Those guys could have gotten a ride in a perfectly safe, predictable bus. On the ground, the way things are supposed to be."
"Or, better yet, rather than flying north and south, those guys should have flown east or west, then taken a bus on the ground from that location instead," he added. "That would have shown proper balance in modes of transportation."
Ferentz's I-Club circuit continues Wednesday with a speech at the Sioux City Airport, scene of the United Airlines Flight 232 crash in 1989. Upon being told of his next destination, Ferentz muttered, "Aw, goddamnit."