Thank you to Mike Hlas for writing about this first and bringing it to the nation's attention.
We at BHGP have guessed, from time to time, that Kirk Ferentz's stock has dropped among Iowa fans. Yes, it seems like a safe guess, but that's what it is, a guess, and usually the closest we can get to realizing a consensus is the "anecdata" of people's comments here, or callers-in to Gary Dolphin's show, or random grousing from friends.
Rare is the opportunity to hear impromptu, consensus opinions from large, essentially random cross-sections of Iowans on a subject like this, which is why we so richly enjoy the fact that comedian Lewis Black stumbled into a great many audience members' opinions on Ferentz a couple weeks back.
Here's the setup: Lewis Black was in Riverside on a comedy tour. You may or may not like his comedy, but the specifics of his act isn't what's important here, so let's not get hung on that. Anyway, Black was doing a Q&A after the show, as comedians so often do, and wouldn't you know it the Q&A is available to watch streaming on his website. Not all comedians grant us Internet residents such luxury, because if they did, you'd be able to see/hear me ask Nick Offerman about his genitals at his Englert visit last week. It was his idea. Sort of. I digress.
At 17:30 or so, Black is riffing on the state of the educational system in America and accountability or whatever, and he unwittingly solicited the biggest laugh of the night:
Black: "If the University of Iowa football team doesn't do well, what do you—fire the coach, don't you?"
Crowd: [Legit 20+ seconds of sustained laughter and hollering]
And that's it right there. The discussion continues, obviously, and Black is eventually dumbstruck by the notion that Ferentz would be the highest-paid state employee for 16 years running—yeah, when you put it that way, yeahhh—but if you ever had a scintilla of doubt that Ferentz's welcome is wearing thin, those 20 seconds of hysterics should tell you everything. It was as if Black had asked Los Angelenos something like "your public transit system's probably good here, right?" or if he went to Purdue and openly assumed there was anything to do in West Lafayette.
Black then grouses about his own school's woes, and he's a UNC alum, so obviously yes—things can be worse—but as his point winds down, he grins and says "I'm just saddened by the fact that you're saddled with a coach that sucks!"
The line, as we see, absolutely kills.
BHGP does not have an open line of communication with Gary Barta, nor can we speak to his state of mind—yes, shocking—but if the mere mention of your favorite coach's job status (the guy to whom you gave a de facto lifetime contract) sends the average Iowan into sustained shrieks of acerbic laughter, that can't possibly be a pleasant experience, right? January 2010 wasn't that long ago; that's when Iowa, still basking in the glow of an Orange Bowl victory and a Top 10 finish, signed Ferentz to that massive contract. And now it's little more than a running gag.
There's your hoi polloi, loud and clear. It's not even unearned, it's not even excessive, it's not even a surprise. This is how it is now, and how it'll probably be for a while. So... you might as well laugh.