Most weeks, I’ve used this space to highlight specific areas where Iowa was good or bad (mainly bad) in the prior week’s game. So I’ll do it again:
They lost, they turned it over a laughable 6 times (129th), scored 0 offensive touchdowns (126th), held the ball for 29:14 (66th), converted 7% of their third downs (128th), had 2.2 yards/carry (118th), 46% completion percentage (120th), and allowed 5 QB sacks (113th). All together, it generates a 0.07 on my complementary football scorecard.
(Reminder of the weightings here and stats here)
On the season, they’re at a 0.19 which exceeds only an even-worse-Indiana team for this season and ranks as the 7th worse in conference since 2017. We can thank TeamRankings for not including FCS games because Iowa would be 100th in turnovers/game instead of a mediocre 64th.
But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here because David Porter was right.
Two things can be true. Let’s remember that.
First, David Porter, the former chair of Iowa football’s now-defunct diversity committee, overstepped his bounds in his Citrus Bowl analysis of the Hawkeye football coaching staff. In text messages to the committee - first reported by The Gazette in January 2022 - he most notably wrote Kirk is “loyal to a fault,” will “fall the sword for his son and his staff because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.” and “The only way I see to save his legacy, protect the program, help those kids, and continue to move forward at the same time is for Kirk to retire.”
Porter arrived at this conclusion after having as inside a peek as any outsider has had in terms of Iowa football’s day-to-day. The monthly meetings in the immediate aftermath of Iowa’s racial strife tapered off as much of what was suggested was implemented. Yet the October 2021 meeting where Porter requested assistant coaches bring an answer to a question on how they’re fostering an inclusive environment but some did not generate responses.
As Porter detailed to The Gazette, Kirk went to the mat for his coaches after that meeting: “They felt like we were being accusatory. I don’t know why, it didn’t happen. They felt we were being disrespectful. It didn’t happen. We gave them one month to answer one question they already had the answer to, and they didn’t come prepared.”
Kirk said the decision to move on from that iteration of the committee came in November but it was not announced to the committee until after Iowa’s bowl game (roughly January 10th). He signed his contract on December 31st. So while his decision may have happened in November, the paper trail shows that the committee had served its purpose: He got his next bag.
Let me be clear: all of this would be irrelevant if Iowa kept winning. Yet after seven games of the 2022 season, Porter’s analysis - however out-of-step it was - is proving prescient. Kirk Ferentz is getting heat from all angles because a bad offense, led by his son, Brian, as offensive coordinator & quarterbacks coach, has gotten even worse and entered into historically bad territory. By going toe-to-toe with Ohio State (and by every analysis I have seen or read, that is what Iowa’s D did on Saturday despite yielding 54 points) in one phase of the game, it showed just how far behind Iowa’s offense is.
I also would not reengage with the Porter storyline if we didn’t see his sentiment stretch far & wide across the Iowa football fanscape. When you have the die-hardiest of Iowa football fans reaching the same conclusion, it’s worth connecting the two:
The fact that I think the best thing for the football program is for him to retire after this season is over makes me sad. KF can do no wrong in my book, and yet here I am, saying these things. It absolutely kills me and I hate it…— (@ChinLovesIowa) October 23, 2022
What was once an outlier, if relatively high-profile, opinion on the guy currently in charge is now entering the mainstream online opinion of Iowa’s head football coach.
What has been most interesting to me in all of this is that it comes on the heels of a game where nobody expected Iowa to win. Ohio State is Ohio State for a reason. But by coaching against Ohio State, Kirk Ferentz entered an ecosystem which is so far and away outside of Iowa’s insular fan & media circle. He gets a former president of the Football Writers Association of America, Doug Lesmerises, asking him questions about the bad offense and the guy who leads them into rock bottom’s basement.
It should have been another in a relatively long line of anti-nepotism, Iowa Hawkeyes takes. Yet Kirk wasn’t done after being “interrogated.” Hey, that’s his right. Yet his pot shot at Lesmerises raised the profile on the situation because one guy was being professional and that guy wasn’t Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa’s offense has been so bad for so long (Tom Fornelli’s aggregation has Iowa’s points/game as 105th, the best of the 8 offensive stats he compiled) that Kirk’s modus operandi - to wait it out - is simply off the table. Action must be taken. I don’t think Kirk Ferentz responds that way if he isn’t feeling some amount of heat, as insulated from the fire as he might be.
The question is, not even one full year after he, Gary Barta, and Barbara Wilson signed on the dotted lines, will action be taken? It isn’t the 70s and 80s anymore - decades Kirk Ferentz loves to reference - where football coaches weren’t the highest paid employees associated with universities. Fans weren’t shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on tickets and tv networks weren’t paying billions of dollars to air dreck like this. Results are expected. An if results aren’t happening, actions are needed to jumpstart results.
Kirk Ferentz justified the stasis on offense with results based on last year alongside hope of improvement this year. He went from referencing 2004 into 2005 in the offseason to 1999 and 2000 this season. On the heels of a season where Iowa got into the Big Ten Title game, there’s no progress to be found.
When there’s no progress, it makes it really hard to care in a season as lost as this one seems right now. It elevates the need for action.
So who is going to act?