When news broke on Monday that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz was on his way out in Iowa City, there was an audible release of emotions across Hawkeye Nation.
Those emotions were perhaps a bit mixed in some circles, but largely Iowa fans had been in agreement for some time that Brian was doing more harm than good for the Hawkeyes. While Iowa has continued its winning ways over the last several years, the offensive production has fallen off a cliff. The disparity between the Hawkeye offense and defense has grown wider by the season and it’s been impossible not to wonder just how far the team could go if the offense was only semi-competent.
So when the University of Iowa issued the press release indicating that the younger Ferentz was done, it was easy to ponder the potential upside. But the press release came with a caveat: Brian is still the offensive coordinator for the remainder of the season.
That point drew criticism from those that wanted Brian gone immediately, but it also drew criticism from head coach Kirk Ferentz. In his Tuesday press availability, the elder Ferentz was clearly frustrated at the timing of the announcement. He seemed less concerned that Brian was being fired and more concerned that the decision had been made, and made public, in the middle of the season rather than at the end.
As for the fanbase? They disagree by and large. More than 80% of Hawkeye fans indicated they were happy with interim athletic director Beth Goetz’s handling of the situation in this week’s Reacts poll.
There’s likely some noise in those numbers and some segment of the fanbase is quite black and white: Brian out = good no matter when, how, etc. On the flip side, there are surely a few who largely feel good about the situation, but would have liked Brian gone a season ago.
Regardless of the noise, 83% is an overwhelming response. Iowa fans are largely at odds with head coach Kirk Ferentz on this issue and the question now is how the entire ordeal impacts his legacy. We’ve seen one legendary coach leave Iowa City on a low note and this moment in Hawkeye history feels like an inflection point for Kirk and his legacy.
Notably, while the fanbase seems to agree with the decision to fire Brian and do it sooner than later, they don’t feel like the announcement has helped Iowa’s chances this week.
When we polled the fanbase pre-season, every single respondent expected Iowa to defeat Northwestern this season. Obviously, things have changed a bit in Evanston since that time. Pat Fitzgerald had recently been let go and the direction of the Wildcats’ season was in question. Now NU enters the week at .500 on the year with defensive coordinator David Braun seemingly winning over his team and pushing them in the right direction.
But the downtrend for the Iowa offense has also seemingly picked up steam and now the Hawkeyes enter the week with a lame duck offensive coordinator at the helm. The result? A full 40% of Hawkeye fans now think the Hawkeyes are losing to Northwestern.
That’s a remarkable uptick in pessimism. Especially consider what’s at stake for the Hawkeyes. Iowa lost their last outing to a not great Minnesota team, but they remain in a great spot in the Big Ten West.
The West is arguably (not very arguably, but arguably) the worst division in college football and the Hawkeyes are in a 4-way tie atop it. They hold the tie-breaker over Wisconsin after winning in Madison for the first time in nearly a decade and Minnesota, who just took down Iowa in Kinnick, still has to travel to Ohio State.
So for all intents and purposes, Iowa is tied for the West lead with Nebraska, setting up an epic showdown in the final game of the regular season on Black Friday.
That is, unless they fall on their face between now and then. Something 40% of the fanbase now expects to happen this weekend.