Like many of you, I’ve spent way too much time reading and reacting to way too many opinions about Kirk Ferentz and his massive wallet of late. As an alum of the university and as a passionate fan of the Iowa Football program, it has been yet another palm-to-head spring/summer off season storyline that’s put our favorite program in the MSM’s crosshairs for the absolutely wrong reasons.
Despite my opinions on that entire situation, what concerns me more is that this is becoming a yearly trend during the #NEWKIRK Era.
If it’s not nepotism it’s Winning/Graduating/Doing it Right. If it’s not allegations of racism inside the weight room and a culture that is not inclusive to all players, it’s an exodus of recruits because of old school rules about campus visits. If it’s not Rhabdo or Kirk’s neighborhood problems, it’s football paycuts vs. donations.
We all know how much optics matter now more than ever before and a few consecutive bad headlines can sway the masses against you rather quickly. Pile them up consistently year after year and all of a sudden you start to see cracks in the foundation that has been over two decades.
Yet despite all of it, Iowa fans continue to band together quickly and cradle the football program tighter than they were before. As these storylines pile up and more and more MSM opinions hit our Twitter threads, we as a collective become the tide that lifts the boat. After all, what does Collin Cowherd or Vanessa Miller know about the Iowa program that we don’t already know ourselves?
And once that happens, it quickly turns into one of those big brother-little brother situations where we can beat him up all we want, but the minute someone else outside of the family tries to do it, we team up and kick the shit out of them instead.
Only we can make fun of Iowa Football’s many, many faults. Not you.
But the issue with the fanbase becoming program protectors is that we end up getting way too close and we lose the forest through the trees. Think of all of the headlines we’ve seen come out about this program the last decade. I hate that I even have to ask this question, but shouldn’t a coach that has had as much press as Kirk Ferentz has had since, say, 2010-2011, be better than a 79-46 overall record, 46-30 conference record, 3-5 bowl game record with ONE divisional title?
I’m just asking!
I don’t mean to be such a Negative Ned on a Tuesday morning, but aren’t we all just a little tired of being the shield for a program that has less Big Ten West titles than Northwestern and the same amount as Nebraska? What is all of the money for the coaching staff and rhabdo and racial allegations and firings and nepotism and “doing it right” and NFL draft picks and Tight End-U proclamations and top notch facilities all really for if we continuously fall short to Wisconsin AND Northwestern (let alone the other Blue Bloods across from us in the Big Ten)?
Again, I’m just asking because I’m curious. Perhaps this is just the nature of growing up in Chicago vs. Iowa and I’ll never fully understand it. But I can’t be the only one that is having a very hard time knowing that a coach with this many “yikes” inducing headlines and THAT amount of money in his pocket over THIS many years as head coach cannot bring his team over the Big Ten West hump more consistently.
Shouldn’t we be more upset about this? I know that many will tell me that “It’s Iowa”, but the money this program brings in, the NFL talent it spits out and the shine it gets inside the Big Ten should be enough to be on par with Northwestern...at least. I’m not asking to be Alabama or Clemson or Oklahoma. But more talented Northwestern seems like a fair ask. And at the end of every one of these stories, I can’t help but ask myself if I really believe that this is the only person that can win eight games consistently at Iowa? Do I really believe that the minute Kirk hangs ‘em up we’re doomed to Illinois-levels of basement dwelling for ever and ever, amen?
Hell naw. And if you do, you should hold your favorite team to a higher standard. Especially after all of the protecting you’ve done the last two decades.
I think...no, I know that Iowa has built a brand for themselves that can be pushed to even greater heights. Dare I even say Wisconsin like heights. Hell, just look at the NFL Talent Iowa has put into the league. We’re right there with some of the bluest of blue bloods and we’re just little ol’ Iowa. How can that be? How can that be? How can that be?
Again, I’m just asking questions.
And yes, I realize that’s all happened under Kirk Ferentz. And no I’m not calling for his job or his resignation or anything even close to that. But after all of this, I myself am demanding for things to be better under #NEWKIRK. I’ll continue to hoist up this program and protect them from the nasty naysayers like Collin Cowherd and other shock jocks that exist out in the content creating ether. But I’m not going to keep on pretending that my arms aren’t sore at the end of every season as I take stock of where we started and where we finished.
Because more times than not, it feels like it’s just the same damn place we were before. And if that’s how the Iowa football program is going to continue on thru 2026, well, is that good enough anymore?
I’m just asking?