There's a really spectacular display of trophies in the front lobby/atrium area of Iowa's fantastic new Football Operations Building. In addition to all sorts of sensational pictures, stats, graphics about Iowa's history, they also have a huge display featuring Iowa's bowl game trophies won by Iowa under Hayden Fry and Kirk Ferentz. They also have an impressive display of several of the individual trophies earned by standout Hawkeye players over the decades. And they have displays for Iowa's annual traveling trophies for rivalry games -- displays which are very full these days!
Lots of trophies pic.twitter.com/4bMZ76dbvF— Scott Dochterman (@ScottDochterman) December 1, 2015
I saw the trophy displays in September (the atrium/lobby area is open to the public for a period of time before home football games; I'm not sure what other public availability it has), but I don't recall if they had any Coach of the Year awards on hand. If not, they might need to make room because Kirk Ferentz was named the recipient of the 2015 Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award today:
Iowa Hawkeyes (@TheIowaHawkeyes) December 16, 2015
Ferentz was named Big Ten Coach of the Year (for a record-tying fourth time) earlier this month after leading Iowa to a 12-0 (TWELVE AND OH!) regular season campaign. This is the first time that he's won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, although it's not the first time that he's been named National Coach of the Year. After Iowa's remarkable breakthrough campaign in 2002, Ferentz earned the Associated Press and Walter Camp Football Foundation Coach of the Year awards.
We wrote a lot about Coach of the Year awards in the wake of Ferentz being named B1G Coach of the Year and, frankly, it seems pretty much as true now as it did then:
Coach of the Year is a funny award in that it almost always goes to a coach that exceeds expectations and tends to reward those who "do more with less." Ferentz was on the hot seat entering the 2015 season after a dismal conclusion to the 2014 season (a season that was part of a several year malaise at Iowa) and Iowa was generally picked to finish around 4th or 5th in the Big Ten West and projected to go around .500 yet again. Three months later, here we are: 12-0 overall, 8-0 in the Big Ten, undisputed champions of the Big Ten West division, and 4th in the College Football Playoff rankings. I'd say that's "exceeding expectations" -- just a bit.
Some critics of the Coach of the Year award's tendency to reward coaches that "exceed expectations" argue that the award is biased against coaches at programs with considerable resources. Urban Meyer can't really "exceed expectations" when the expectation to begin with is that he goes 11-1 or 12-0 every year and contend for Big Ten and national championships -- if he does just that, he's merely living up to expectations. They tend to further argue that meeting those expectations involves no small amount of pressure and that a coach's ability to handle that pressure and still guide their teams to success should be measured when assessing coaching performances.
There's some merit to those arguments, I think, but this year at least I'd say that Kirk Ferentz's performance has satisfied both criteria. There's no question that he "exceeded expectations" and has engineered a remarkable turnaround from last season, but he's also successfully navigated a lot of pressure in the later stages of the season -- it's not easy to go 12-0, but Iowa was able to handle the increased pressure and expectations (not to mention the distractions) that came with their ever-increasing success this season -- and still stick the landing for a perfect regular season.
Congrats again, Coach Ferentz. This has been one heck of a season. Let's cap it off in style in Pasadena.