Folks, Big Ten football is back. At least for now. And until it’s taken away from us, that means we’re back with our weekly roundup of Kirk Ferentz’s press conferences. I’ll be here all season long sharing with you all the good stuff that you want to know, as well as what I think is funny, or weird, or insightful, or whatever!
You can find the full transcript here. Otherwise, let’s get into it.
“Good news right now is that it is game week. I don’t know if any of us thought that was ever going to happen, so certainly we’re excited about that — the fact that it’s going to take place.”
For now, at least!
“...We still have serious concerns about our conditioning level and have had through this entire time just because of the lack of consistency and getting the guys in early. For the most part I don’t think it was until last week where we really felt were at a level where we could practice as long and as hard as maybe we would like to.”
This is one of my biggest concerns heading into the season, for Iowa and any team, really. Sure, they’ve been practicing this whole time, and that will certainly help the Hawks develop some newer guys, but the fact that Kirk is owning up to this so early is definitely a sign that we’re probably not going to see the most polished on-field product right away this season.
Or ever, maybe.
Some testing info:
Q. I had a question kind of about the late-week testing process, and that’s when do your players get tested, on Fridays and then Saturdays? And is there a fear of fake positives or false positives — kind of like what happened with Nick Saban last week?
KIRK FERENTZ: Sure, our routine is that we all have a set time during the course of the week that we get tested, and then on Friday my understanding is it’s obviously going to have to be before we travel. So it’ll be Friday and Saturday morning. I assume at the hotel on Saturday. I haven’t looked that far down the road.
...I think I heard somewhere in the last 24 hours that right now we’re conference-wise about 98.9 percent accuracy ... I don’t think anybody has got a better system in place right now, including in the NFL, than what we have.
Interesting perspective there. Sure, there was controversy around the whole Nick Saban thing, but I don’t think it’s really reasonable at all to fault any official for being overly cautious holding players or coaches out. A team outbreak could end the season, and Kirk and most coaches and teams around the country get that.
Q. Are you guys traveling bus or charter? How healthy are you guys? Is everybody going to be able play that you expected to play this weekend?
KIRK FERENTZ: As far as I know we’re chartering...
Injury-wise I’m really not going to disclose anything right now. It’s like any game — we have some guys that are out. Once we get through the first game I’ll talk a little bit more about that. Other guys wait and see, so we’ll see how this week goes.
You throw the virus in on top of it, who knows who’s going to be there on Saturday.
Ahhhh, back to the old non-answers we all know and love! Breaking news: some guys will play this weekend. Others will not.
Some more on that front:
Q. You had mentioned in your initial comments the concerns about conditioning and maybe kind of starting to be able to practice the way you want to. Just curious what do you think the level of play is going to be not just with your team but just around the other teams starting in the Big Ten, based on maybe what you saw in some other conferences that started late but before you?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...I think our guys have practiced well. I thought we gained some ground a week ago. That was really the kind of end of our preseason, if you will...
But one thing that became very apparent when we started talking about practice and actually practicing, it was so different than what we would normally do in August just because of we were at. We had to be guarded, cautious just how long we were out on the field, how many things we did with our players, just for a fear of breaking down.
All that being said, we still had more soft tissue issues than we would like to and we’ve even had some surgeries on bones in a foot, those kinds of things. More younger players. I don’t know what you attribute that to.”
That’s certainly interesting. Maybe a combination of less practice and new leadership in strength and conditioning? Who knows! Certainly interesting to hear, though.
NOW LET’S GET POLITICAL.
[Editor’s Note: But seriously, don’t make this political in the comments. This is worth noting, it is news, but this is not the forum for us to debate politics.]
Q. Tyrone Tracy said earlier that players are going to have the option to kneel or stand for the National Anthem. Can you confirm that’s true, and tell us how that decision came about, I guess?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...We’ve had discussions going back the last couple months. I say we, the leadership group, the leadership group and myself, where we’ve talked about the subject three different times and shared some information with them and shared a letter from a veteran who felt very strongly about nobody should kneel.
And then I’d fast forward about 12 days ago. We had a Navy seal, 20-year Navy seal who served in two White House administrations and strategic planning, that type of thing, also led missions in South America, the middle east, Asia, give an answer that was very, very different. His spin on it was in his mind it’s all about Americans being their authentic selves, doing what they feel is best and stay true to their beliefs.
In his words, that’s what people like him fought for, so that our country can enjoy the liberties and freedoms that are very unique to our country. As it comes home to our leadership group, the discussions I listened to and participated in, on three separate occasions were extremely impressive. Everybody was respectful of each other’s opinions, and I’m convinced right now that we’ll see a variety of stances taken by our team.
But I can also tell you that what I’ve heard from three separate meetings is everybody is respectful of each other. Nobody is judging each other. Nobody is taking roll, any of that kind of stuff. They’re acting like a team should. I’m extremely impressed with the way the guys have handled it.”
This seems like a really mature, poised way to handle the situation, and I hope Iowa fans can respect that for the players who choose to kneel AND stand. If the team can deal with it like adults, so can the fans.
Q. Given what happened in June and such, we haven’t really seen mass transfers out of the program; is that a good sign for you, and how have you held things together given what happened this summer?
KIRK FERENTZ: ...All the things I’ve said publicly we’ve tried to put them in action, and that’s the important thing. So we’ve tried to do a good job of listening, what are our players saying, how were they feeling, and then we’ve tried to find solutions to make people feel like things are a little better, but better here we can improve things, and we’ll continue to do that and continue to listen to our players. That’s the important thing.
If you read the full answer to this, Kirk kind of quickly defects from the question after this paragraph. I guess that’s a good answer, but I’d like to see more specifics from him, and I hope that the media continues asking questions like this.
This was long, and there’s a lot I didn’t cover, including a question about what Spencer Petras brings to the team, returning offensive firepower, and more. Again, click here for the full transcript.
If you’ve made it all the way down this far, let me know in the comments what you want to see from this. More insight into what I think about the questions, less insight, shorter clips, etc. I am open to all feedback! Don’t make me regret it.
It’s game week, folks. We made it. Go Hawks.