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Free-For-All Friday: New Offensive Coordinators, Beating the Badgers and When to Start the Holiday Season

It’s Friday afternoon and with only a few hours between you and the weekend, there’s no better way to finish out the workweek than reading two bumbling idiots drone on about changes for Iowa football.

Coach Brian Ferentz
A lot of Iowa’s offensive woes have been blamed on Brian Ferentz. Who would replace him if he left?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Another week has come and gone, or almost gone, and all that stands between us and a great weekend of Hawkeye athletics is a couple measly hours at work. And let’s be honest, what you’re doing at work isn’t exactly “working.” So, we’re back to help you pass the time until the clock strikes 5 and you can get on the road before the Hawkeyes tip off against SIU-Edwardsville tonight and take the field against Wisconsin just one short day from now.

It’s Friday and it’s a free-for-all.

JP: Jerry, Jerry, Jerry. It’s Wisconsin week, my man. Hoops are back, sort of, and the weekend cannot get here soon enough. How you livin buddy?

Jerry: Here is how my last four days played out: The SpoCo Radio boys came out to Philly for a little weekend fun. Friday we golfed, enjoyed some beers and some horrid karaoke on the 19th hole before devouring tacos and margaritas. Saturday we spent nearly 14 hours in Atlantic City sitting at the sports book and coming .5 points away from winning TWO different 3-team parlays that paid out a couple grand a piece (Nebraska and Florida can forever go scratch) and then we tailgated and watched the Bears pull a Brian Ferentz. So I am in catch back up with work and detox mode for the foreseeable future.

That is until Iowa beats Wisconsin on Saturday and I enjoy many, many Crystal Head Vodkas.

What about you palsy? How are things in Iowa? What is the vibe around Iowa City? Are people feeling confident about Satuday’s Big Ten West Championship game? You’re our man on the ground, JP. Paint me a picture. Are people crushing cheese curds in preparation throughout the Ped Mall?

JP: Things in Iowa City are… things. We had a cold, snowy Halloween and we’re now into that part of fall that starts to feel like winter, which is much less fun than early fall when football is back and the leaves are turning colors and we’re all outside in our flannel shirts with stubble beards forming and pumpkin spiced everything in our hands.

BUT, hoopy-ball is back and the Hawks are still in the Big Ten West race. That is at least until Saturday, which has me… nervous. Not because I came into this year expecting to win the West or anything along those lines. I’m nervous because the fanbase has this feel about it where they’re restless once again.

We all know Kirk Ferentz ain’t goin’ nowhere. We also know that Brian ain’t a goin’ nowhere. And yet, there’s this tension in the air that feels a lot like 2014 to me. People are frustrated with what they see out of the offense and seem to think we should be better than the #18 team in the country, that we shouldn’t have lost to Michigan and Penn State and that we should be in the driver’s seat for the West. Those are absurd assertions given the actual expectation this team would win 7-8 games this year according to Vegas, but the defense has been so good that we all of a sudden feel entitled to more.

The people want blood, Jerry! Heads need to roll!

And my question is, if somehow, some way, the people got their wish and Brian Ferentz left after this year (let’s say he takes the HC job at, like Eastern Michigan). Who would you want as OC instead? Would it really matter?

Jerry: We have snow in our radar next week and its the kind of snow that mixes with rain and it makes everything a total mess and people forget how to drive and that ends up making me lose my mind. It also puts a giant damper on my “wear flip flops into the office everyday” lifestyle I’ve been living since about April. I’m just not ready to say goodbye yet.

But, as they say, WINTER IS COMING.

Now, this tension that you speak of... where is it coming from exactly? As you clearly said already, I feel like I was on a ledge before the season started saying that 10 games felt like the number, with a clear chance to make it 11 or even 12 with a better offensive output. People were flabbergasted when I dropped that one. From what I remember from July and August, the majority of the fanbase assumed that this would be yet another 8 to 9 win football team. How can you have tension when the team does what you expect year in and year out? Are these people that want blood also the first one to tell me that I need to lower my expectations of wanting to be more like Wisconsin? Aren’t these the same people that preach about Kirk’s developmental program? Aren’t these the same people that are comfortable not being Nebraska-like when they fired Bo Pelini?

I don’t understand why there are sharks right now? You know who should be the shark? ME! I’m the shark. I expect Big Ten West Contention year in and year out and I’m not nearly getting the outcome I so desperately desire. But you don’t hear me demanding Kirk’s head and for Brian to be shipped off like he’s Air Bud.

I get the frustration. I get it more than anyone else. But pick a side people! Let’s either all hold this program to a higher level of accountability or be comfortable with the status quo. But know, you can’t have both. Consistent 8-win seasons with one spectacular run every four or five years is either good for you or it’s not. We know the baseline here. We’ve known it for 20-years. If you want something more, stay wanting more.

But don’t come at me the next time I get frustrated with 8-wins and tell me “It’s Iowa bro, what more do you want?”.

I want my favorite program and my favorite school that make as much money on athletics as the consistent blue blood contenders to be, well, an effing consistent contender (and I only really want them to be in it for the West title year in and year out... I’m not asking for PLAYOFFS?! PLAYOFFS?!).

How about we get some consistency in our expectations with our fanbase before we start wanting to chop down the entire coaching tree? Is that too much to ask JP?

Now, let me climb back down from my high horse and get back to your original question. First of all, Brian Ferentz is going to go be an NFL OC before he would take a head coaching job like Eastern Michigan. I just want to get that straight. Now in terms of the new OC, is Kirk and his offensive football principals still the HC? If so, you literally will never be able to convince me that KOK wouldn’t just get a promotion and it’s back to business as usual.


JP: I’m the resident BF apologist, but I really feel like he has no shot at an OC job in the NFL. I certainly don’t place all the blame at his feet for the offensive woes this year (comeatmebro.gif), but his resume for that job is as lacking as his resume for D1 OC was and his dad isn’t coaching in the league. I think he ultimately wants to be a HC and has the highest likelihood of going straight from his current job to HC somewhere (probably Iowa, deservingly or otherwise).

Now, as for a replacement, I think KF would LOVE to just go back to KOK. That would mean no painful interview process. No messy paperwork. No learning curve. Just plug and play, next man in. BUT, I don’t know that KOK wants that job at this point. I think he’s in the twilight of his career and enjoying having the ability to focus on teaching a handful of guys and going out and finding the players he wants in that spot. And so far, that’s been really good. Iowa’s QB recruiting since he’s been back has been as good as it’s ever been. So I hope he has the opportunity to just stay in that role forever and always.

If I’m picking a replacement, I’m not going out and finding someone with a wildly different philosophy than we currently see because 1. I don’t think they would last more than a month in practices with KF and 2. I don’t think it would make the team better.


I think inserting an offensive guru who wants to get into shotgun and fire that f@%#&ing pigskin would be disastrous. There would be more explosive plays and we would all be excited, but we’ve seen a tiny glimpse in Fran’s Iowa hoops time what happens to defense when you try to go up-tempo and score a lot of points. SPOILER: it ain’t great, Bob!

One of the reasons Iowa always has a good to great defense is the offense does a couple things. First, they control the clock by working for sustained drives and more importantly they emphasize taking care of the ball. They don’t give opponents a short field with turnovers and they give their defense and opportunity to rest, limiting opponent possessions. There’s been lots of frustration this year with the offense and I’ve heard more than one person comment, “why would we build an offense predicated on long, sustained drives with no mistakes while also building a defense on the premise that college kids can’t sustain long dries without mistakes?” The answer is pretty simple: we aren’t playing for the same outcomes. Our offense is playing for those long, sustained drives to lean on opponents and wear them down to the point the defense makes mistakes too. They aren’t trying to score points every time. They are betting they can sustain the drive long enough to flip field position and put themselves in a position to not have to have a long, sustained drive without mistakes and still get points. All while letting the defense suffocate opponents because they’re rested and capitalizing on the turnover opponents make.

So who do I want as OC? Gimme Joe Rudolph of Wisconsin. I’ll pay him ALL the money.

Speaking of the Badgers, there seems to be a pretty big game this weekend. What are the chances Iowa pulls off the upset and what do they need to do to win?

Jerry: I think you and I are speaking the same language here. That’s why I ultimately assumed a promotion for KOK would be in the cards before anything else if Brian were to leave for whatever job (though I still think a call from Bill O’Brien is well within the cards). Kirk doesn’t want to work with new people, nor does he want to employ someone that wants to throw, as you said, the “f@%#&ing pigskin” around the yard and potentially sacrifice his special teams and defensive units.

I mean think about this from your own perspective for a second... when your company hires someone new, do you really want to work with them? Hell no. You rather keep on keeping on with the people you know. There are no outliers then. You know what you’re getting from Bill in accounting and Bill in HR and Jen in sales. It’s consistent. It’s the devil you know.

But I digress. Joe Rudolph would be a fine hire and I would get behind that in a heart beat, but personally I would rather have a guy like Penn State’s Ricky Rahne (especially with a guy like Duece Hogan coming into the program). Plus, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em baby!

Now to the Saturday’s my eyes, the chances that Iowa wins this game are unbelievably high. I’d put it at a 99.99% chance. There is literally no doubt in my mind that Iowa is going to win this game. For starters, Phil Parker has three games worth of tape to scout before he puts together a defensive game plan that will slow Wisconsin down completely. On top of that, there is no way he’s going to let Jack Coan beat this team like Alex Hornibrook last year. We have a senior quarterback that hasn’t had the type of season we’ve all anticipated playing his home state school one last time with the Big Ten West on the line. We have identified two spectacular game changing offensive players in Tyler Goodson and Sam LaPorta who match up perfectly with ISM and create advantages in the passing and running game. We have one of the best #CollegeKickers in the nation and a punter that gets the job done. And on top of all of that... it’s just our time, JP! How many more times can this program piss away tight games to the Badgers?

This is our time and our season. We’re going to the Big Ten Championship in Indianapolis and we’re going to give Ohio State a run for their money.

And if you can’t believe in that, well then, you better watch the Polar Express before kickoff Saturday so you can get into the holiday spirit.

JPinIC: Buddy, I wish I had the optimism. I really do. It’s no fun going through life expecting the worst. I mean, sure you are never disappointed, but you spend all your time bracing for things that may or may not happen. That’s not how I live. I tend to think things will be alright and if they aren’t, we’ll deal with them.

Not with Iowa football this weekend. I am fully bracing for a repeat of 2017 without the help of Josh Jackson being incredible. I am a Nate Stanley Stan(ley) (boy does that sounds weird when you read it), but I worry about him pressing too much in this game. He is fully aware of his criticisms. He knows the fanbase is clamoring for him to win a big time road game. He knows he has never beaten his home state school in Wisconsin. And most importantly, he knows that if he wins this one Iowa will be in the driver’s seat on a team bus headed to Indy.

But everything we’ve seen from Stanley is that kind of pressure doesn’t help him perform to his peak the way it does a guy like Jordan Bohannon. What we’ve seen, rather than stepping up and hitting a 30-foot three with a hand in his face, is that Stanley is just as likely to miss open receivers, make mental mistakes and press too much down the stretch.

That, coupled with the struggles this Iowa offense has already had this year and the significant struggles they’ve had figuring out how to attack that Wisconsin defense over the years leads me to believe this is the perfect example of being an Iowa fan. All the reasons you laid out for us to win are why we will lose. We seem to always have nice things right within our grasp and at the last minute, Lucy pulls the football, punches us in the gut and runs off with our friend for ice cream.

So I’m breaking my own rule and I’m expecting Iowa to lose. In reality, I’ve been expecting them to lose this one since the beginning of the year. And I’m OK with it because the team is already exceeding expectations. I would really like to see the win and I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think there was a really good shot this team would end up 10-2 at the beginning of the season, but I think we take the L, bounce back next week and march through the rest of the schedule to a 9-3 record.

As to the Polar Express, I will have roughly 2,347 more opportunities to watch that this holiday season with a 2 and 5 year old at home. My other hard and fast rule is no Christmas anything until the day after Thanksgiving. Did I break down and listen to Christmas music November 1? Yes, yes I did. Will I watch Christmas Vacation the first time I get an hour to myself? Yes, yes I will. But you gotta have the rules or the kids rule the house man!