Happy holidays, everyone.
Our own Kirk Ferentz addressed the media to talk about bowl prep, Matt VandeBerg, and other odds and ends about college football.
He seemed rather aloof, if not more candid than usual in his answers, and there were a few interesting nuggets to glean from his presser. He started with the VandeBerg news and took it from there:
Anyway, great to hear about Matt. Matt is a tremendous player, tremendous leader on our football team. We missed him this year and it will be great to have him back. The bad news is that Matt informed me yesterday he will not play in next year's bowl if we earn a bid, so we'll have to deal with that.
Seriously, why can’t he play in next year’s bowl? That is so dumb.
Ferentz then got in to players sitting out their bowl game, and I bet you can guess his opinions on the matter!
In all seriousness, I know that was a topic this week and I'm really not going to comment, as necessarily I'm not privy to the situations in either of the three cases. But one thing I did hear that kind of concerned me coming into work, I heard a national media figure just talk about bowl games and a guy playing in a meaningless game and that does concern me a little bit. I think sometimes maybe people aren't aware of what their word choice can suggest.
You know, as a college coach, I think all of us have experienced when you play in bowl games, that is an important thing. It's really important to the participants, and I think it's true of all games. I've coached in the NFL, I've coached 27 years here now in a couple different capacities, I coached in what used to be I-AA football and it was for the academy, Worcester Academy. If we lined up and played, it was important to the team, whether we might have had 38 players, the 42 parents that might have been there, that type of thing. It's really been no different at any level, if you line up and play, games are important.
I don't think the person that said that meant anything by it but it's one of the fears that I have about the playoff system and the concept of expanding. It's almost as if you're not in the playoff system, everything else doesn't count, and I think a lot of people are missing the boat on that one. So that's my commentary for today, just a little something I'm concerned about a little bit.
Reminds me of this quote from Desmond King earlier in the week:
Desmond King not only will play CB in Outback Bowl, but will return kicks. Not worried about injury risk.— MarkEmmert (@MarkEmmert) December 22, 2016
Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall too far from the coaching tree, or something like that.
And now we’re on to bowl prep, which is important, because no one on this Iowa team has a won a bowl game, and that’s not a place you want to be.
Q. How about you, in your approach, coaching, the last several bowl games haven't gone well, especially in first halves. What tangibly can you say that maybe you've done differently as you look to prepare for this game?
We just tried to shift our approach a little bit and be a little bit more Iowa City centered, if you will. We've had some heavy work, especially with younger guys, earlier.
The idea really starting today was to really start to streamline our process a little bit more. It's required that we go down Monday. Otherwise we probably would have traveled Tuesday. That would have been our other plan. I don't think it's going to affect the game -- I know it's not going to.
But that's what we would have done, so we would have stayed even one more day here, and just kind of functioned in our home environment. But I think you know, I think the idea was to streamline things from really from today on with our practice schedules and hopefully the players will respond. Today went well.
Hopefully the next two days will be really good, as well.
Perhaps the little changes in prep will work in Iowa’s favor:
Q. Any type of like curfew changes or anything like that when you're on the ground there?
Well, yeah, we used to have later curfews but we used to be there nine days ahead of time, too. We're going to treat it like we're in-season, basically and there will be a lid on things. Certainly I think the first night is the only night they will be out at all, at an hour that I would consider late.
So you know, I'm 61, right, so nine o'clock's late for me. We'll give them one night where they can stay out past 11, but after that, it's going to be kind of a little tighter.
Now we’re on to secondary depth. It’s not great! Kirk postulated what would happen if Iowa were to play Washington State in the bowl game. That would not have been fun.
Q. What's your depth like at corner? Did you move anybody?
The few, the proud, the three. That's kind of the way it was with the offensive line in some of our games. You just, you Spahn and Sain and pray for rain; you just kind of hope nothing happens, nothing dramatic between now and whenever the game ends on the second.
Because we're really thin. When Manny went down, that's where we're at. We were thin when he was still healthy. So you know, the calvary ain't coming, so we have to make do with what we have, and if somebody has to move out there, we'll do that but I have no idea who that would be.
Q. Will you move anybody during bowl practice?
Mmm-mmm. So there we go.
What really would have been amusing if we were playing Washington State. And believe me, I had that thought, okay, when Manny went down, I'm thinking air raid, or whatever they call it now, 47 passes in a half, and we've got two DBs out there. It's like, you know, whoa, okay, that would have been interesting.
Here we are, talking about the landscape of college football, where college players can’t play in a bowl game after being granted a medical redshirt, but former NFL players can come back and practice with their alma maters.
Q. Speaking of rules, Alabama apparently has figured out that it can bring back players to actually practice in pads. Would you bring back any former players, and which ones would you bring if you could?
I think most of our guys are probably smart enough to know that it's just not a good idea, it really isn't. You know, it's kind of like coaches lining up and going against current guys. That's not a good idea, either.
But yeah, I guess, you know, to each his own. I remember talking about when we were playing against Pryor, like how do you get somebody to simulate Pryor. It's impossible and unfortunately we don't have a lot of graduates that can do that, either. It's kind of funny.
Totally unrelated but related, Kevin Kasper is living down in Arizona now. Kevin is a little bit of a fanatic. He and Bob Sanders train. I asked LeVar, what do you think the body fat between those two guys is, it's ridiculous. Those guys could probably do it because they are workout warriors. But I think they are both too smart to go back and get whacked around by guys that are younger.
Q. Did you know that was even legal?
No, I didn't. I still can't believe it is. I'm not saying -- I'm not accusing anybody of that that it's illegal or they wouldn't be doing it. But they certainly wouldn't be talking about doing it.
I guess it's one of those things that maybe you have to explain that red means stop and all that stuff. But it's like, are you kidding me, that's legal? That's stupid. But if it's legal then you might as well do it, I guess.
And that’s that. Some pretty good stuff this week from Kirk if you ask me.
Anyway, have a Merry Christmas, everyone. Safe travels to those of you moving about.
If you haven’t yet, check out how we at The Pants celebrated the holiday: by airing our Festivus grievances, of course. Maybe post your own grievances in the comments over there and let it all ferment in the internet.