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October 17, 2007

Extra Kirk

Kirk Ferentz had a few things on his mind today when he met with the media and took time at the beginning of his press conference to give those thoughts on the recent coverage he has read about his team and the players. Ferentz continued that discussion in the post press conference and talked at length about how players should be treated and the importance placed on recruiting.

Listen to the interview here: Extra Kirk Audio

Or read the transcript below:

Q: The fact that we cannot talk to redshirt freshman, with most of us writing every day, that kind of limits what we can write about.

FERENTZ: I told you that if I could trust you.

Q: Do you trust Rick Klatt? He wrote about DJK last week.

FERENTZ: He didn't write that. A ghost writer wrote that.

Q: A ghost writer? Ah, ok.

FERENTZ: Because I have the right to refuse. My problem is that we played against Syracuse and someone sticks a microphone in the face of a freshman and asks about Iowa State. Can we wait until Tuesday to think about Iowa State? Let's talk about Syracuse. That is where I struggle. Leading the witness.

Q: That isn't part of the growing up process?

FERENTZ: Yeah it is. But, right now I am stifling their growth. That is the way it goes.

Q: You mentioned your salary, Do you think that is off limits?

FERENTZ: Absolutely not. What I am saying is that I can deal with that. I have no problem with it. I don't think it is necessary, but I have no problem with it. I am not nave to how the world works, believe me. I knew that when I signed it that it would be an issue.

Q: Is anything that has been written inaccurate, factually?

FERENTZ: I don't know because I wasn't privy to the conversation that took place. Then opinions are opinions. My opinion is different than other people's opinions sometimes. Everyone has differences of opinions. That's life, but I am allowed to have them too. I don't air them out too often, but every once in a while I will. Today I got the last word, sort of. I don't believe that.

Q: You said that you would re-visit allowing redshirt freshman to talk to us.

FERENTZ: Yeah, I will. I am considering it, but I don't know at what point. Saturday would have been a good time for Greenwood and I understand that. If I felt comfortable that we were going to stick to the stories and stick to the game or human interest stories then it would be fine. Again, I can understand why Coach Paterno would hold the quarterback out because in today's world it is getting a little tougher and some guys aren't as savvy as others.

Q: Fans pay a lot of money for tickets. Since you have been here, millions of dollars have been raised and those fans don't deserve to hear from those redshirt freshmen in human interest type stories?

FERENTZ: I would agree to anything if I was allowed to review the articles before they were published. (laugh) So we will handle it in-house. I don't have a comfort level right now. Right now, 80% of our team is non-first year guys.

Q: Agreed, that is why we are struggling to write stories.

FERENTZ: You can talk to those guys.

Q: But, that is why you see things like talking to former players and fishing expeditions.

FERENTZ: I can't see that connection, no. Because they can't talk to Derrell? (laugh)

Q: I don't know about that particular case.

FERENTZ: That was not coincidental. You can't convince me that was a coincidence.

Q: That is why I called Bruce Nelson and Andy Lightfoot last week.

FERENTZ: Which I think is wonderful.

Q: Because they had a good experience here.

FERENTZ: I think Drew had a good experience here.

Q: Would you hire him as an assistant here at some point?

FERENTZ: That is a little premature at this point. I have nothing but great feelings for Drew.

Q: He said at the end of that story that he would like to be an assistant.

FERENTZ: Down the road I think he would be a good one, sure. He has a good football mind.

Q: Was part of the reason that he was called was because he was a former quarterback here?

FERENTZ: No question. Perhaps it was coincidence, I don't know. Brad Banks is a former quarterback. I don't think he got a call. Kyle McCann, he is available. I can give you his number. Nathan Chandler. I can give you plenty of quarterbacks. I read an article last night that I thought was an extremely good article on Drew. I love Drew Tate. I'll say that.

Q: With Dan Doering, is it a sudden improvement or a gradual improvement that he is now ready to play?

FERENTZ: He played well on Saturday. I don't know if we are ready to say that he has arrived, but he has been making progress all the way through. I thought that in the spring he really improved. I thought that he improved through camp. If he was one of our five best, he would have started in the opening ball game. He has always been in that group of eight, nine, or ten guys. He has been in the pool and the other day he got an opportunity and jumped in and did a very nice job.

Q: What does he bring to the table?

FERENTZ: He is in his third year, so he has some experience. He knows, pretty much, what to do. He has been practicing well and doing a good job.

Q: Along those lines, you talk about expectations. You have no control over that.

FERENTZ: I have said many times that I am concerned about it. It is a sign of our times right now because there is a lot of money being made in the recruiting industry and pre-draft prediction business. I am all for people making a living. But, I will put it to you this way, in basketball you have a chance in these camps and combines that they have, the best of the best going up against each other. Football is a whole lot more subjective. No matter how a guy arrives to campus, there is just no guarantee. The same could be true in basketball. A guy could be a phenomenal high school basketball player and just level out. We all know that guy from 8th grade that was just dominant and disappeared by the time he was a senior in high school. It is part of sports and a phenomenon that takes place. My concern is that, especially in this day and age because of the increased awareness of recruiting, that unfair expectations get thrown on players. Probably no where more than quarterback. Just imagine if Tim Tebow wasn't an outstanding player? The guy is, but just imagine if he wasn't. It is something that you are concerned about and something you worry about. Just like with our first year guys and worry about them having to answer questions that are difficult when they were walking across the stage less than six months ago.

Q: What do you say when your athletic department promotes a recruiting class, like in 2005 when you signed that class which was highly ranked.

FERENTZ: I think I say this every February that we like the group of players that we have, otherwise we wouldn't recruit them. Really to know how good they can become, you really can't tell. Dallas and Bob (Sanders) couldn't make it on Friday because he had the flu, are two great examples. Nobody would have predicted it. How many teams turned down chances to take Bob in the NFL? I bet a lot of people wish they would have used a little higher pick to grab him before the Colts did. I was driving in yesterday and heard that Tom Brady had 76 wins out of 100 starts and that he and Staubach are tied for the highest number of wins in the first 100 games. Everybody had a crack at him for 6 rounds and they opted not to take the guy. There are so many examples of that and the NFL is operating at a higher level of proficiency then we are. We are really throwing darts in a lot of cases. You do win championships in February, sort of, because you have to recruit, but it is such a crapshoot. It is an interesting study if you go back and look at the top quarterbacks over the last decade. If you use the criteria of how they played and how they were recruited, then explain to me why all of the quarterbacks don't come from the six to eight glory schools in the country. Think about that one. It is an interesting study. How do you explain the MAC having the best quarterbacks in the country my first five or six years here? How do you explain them having better quarterbacks than the SEC or the Pac 10?

Q: The de-commit word has come up for you guys recently. What are you telling those guys now?

FERENTZ: The first thing I would say, and I can't quote you the statistics, but the number of early commits is almost double what it was two years ago. It has rapidly gone up. I think what we are going to see with that number will be the number of de-commits before February.

Q: What is your communication with them? I know you can't talk specifically about them.

FERENTZ: There is not a set formula and we handle each case independently.

Q: How much does honesty play into it?

FERENTZ: It is important. It is a factor. I will put it that way.

Q: If someone from your staff reads a story on the internet that a guy is gone, is that guy gone then?

FERENTZ: Not necessarily. We take the whole case into account. It is like discipline I guess, you take a look at the whole thing and you go with what you think it right. Honesty is a great thing and I am a great believer in that.

Q: Are you put in a difficult position because you don't have signed papers and you still have to massage a guy.

FERENTZ: One thing about recruiting is the recruits have all the rights and the recruiters have none. That is just the laws of recruiting. Until we have an early signing date, it is going to be that way.

Q: Are you in favor of an early signing date?

FERENTZ: I am. If you want my personal opinion, I appreciate it being done right when the JC's can sign, right after the three weeks of contact. I think that would be a perfect time because what it would do is force people to say "I do" or "Maybe I will", one of those deals. Are we just holding hands or are we getting married? I think a lot of recruits would it actually to get people to quit badgering them.

Q: That would probably put more of an emphasis on in-season visit?

FERENTZ: I couldn't imagine things being more crazy than they are now, but it is possible. (laugh) I wouldn't rule it out.

Q: Do you think it would help with the expectations because then there isn't that two month window?

FERENTZ: I don't know about that. To me, the downside of the early recruitment stuff is that maybe more mistakes get made. Maybe that is the downside. Again, there are guys like Tebow, there are pretty good odds that you aren't going to wrong on that one. You probably could have said that two years ago when he was a sophomore. You will get players like that. There are a lot of players in the pool and this is an important time for them too. We are all offering earlier now, so you throw one out there and a player can take it at anytime.

Q: You talked this summer in Chicago about your Top 70 players. Where are you at on that list now?

FERENTZ: (laugh) I haven't counted them recently. I don't know.

Q: Your point at that time was that your top 70 isn't going to beat USC's top 70.

FERENTZ: Not even close.

Q: But, you are getting closer to that 70th guy.

FERENTZ: In some positions. It is a little tougher for us to survive. Bottom line is that it is tough for us to survive injuries or mishaps, whatever. The guy that transferred out of USC, the running back, who went to Florida. He was 10th string or something. Believe me, we don't have that problem here. He wouldn't have been 10th team here.

Q: Have you had to dip further into the roster than you thought that you would have to dip?

FERENTZ: We have just done what we have had to do, Reisner being a great example. That wasn't the plan coming in. I thought we had two pretty healthy guys to give us a good one-two punch and we looked up and that is not the case. The good news is that he has responded. Michael Sabers has done some good things that last couple of weeks, so we are getting him going a little bit. Tony's injury wasn't going to go away, so you look for solutions and then you hope. There are no guarantees, obviously, but you just hope that there is something good there and we are seeing some good things out of all of those guys.

Q: Would we have seen as much of a guy like Paul Chaney?

FERENTZ: Probably not as much. He was a guy who coming out of the spring, we felt good about. It was a new position for him and again it looks like he is going to play significant time and he was out for how many weeks. He is now a veteran of what, four games now. He was on our radar screen for sure, in our top six group.

Q: When the noise is out there for a guy like Doering for example. Do you almost cheer for that guy to make it?

FERENTZ: I pull for all of the guys, but this isn't the first time a guy has been in this situation. You take some time to visit with them to make sure that the message is that there are a lot of things that I can't control and you can't control. That is part of the real world. To me, it isn't the right world, but it is going to happen. Worse things are going to happen too. I just want them to make sure they know how I feel about it.

Q: Have you told him not to talk to us?

FERENTZ: No. Absolutely not. I have given him permission to use his judgment.

Q: He didn't talk on Saturday.

FERENTZ: I understand that totally. That is in his hands. I will predict that he will be around, but it will be on his schedule and not mine.

Q: Were we overly nasty with Blake Larsen?

FERENTZ: I just think it was a tough situation for a young man who is really a good guy. Again, I guess where I struggle is with all the hype and all the hyperbole, he didn't create it. Yet, it made his time here tougher.

Q: He has gone on to be very successful.

FERENTZ: He is doing very well. Tremendous family and a tremendous young guy. You have 85 scholarships and not everyone is going to be a starter. That is the reality of college football. Everyone comes with the intention of starting. We recruit everyone with the intention of them starting. The reality is that for whatever reason it doesn't always work. You have to be lucky and fortunate in a lot of regards. The downside of all of this attention to recruiting is that you can make it tough on an individual. When I got here, my first year on the banquet circuit, everyone asked about Siaka Massaquoi. I mean everybody. I figured out rather quickly this guy must be something. He was a delightful young guy, but he wasn't as good as Ladell Betts. What's wrong with Siaka? I'll tell you what's wrong with Siaka, he isn't as good as Ladell Betts. It was that simple. That is the downside of all the hype that comes with that stuff.

Q: It was just one win and you are 1-3 in the Big Ten, but has the "B" word come up at all?

FERENTZ: No, absolutely not.

Q: Was that closer to the offensive balance that you want? You got Albert 29 touches on Saturday.

FERENTZ: For the most part, other than not scoring enough points, things worked out pretty well. We are hardly perfect, but at least we kind of looked like an offense out there. It felt a little better and the ball got spread around. Some guys made some plays. You talked about feeling good about some guys and having some success, Albert is another guy. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but he was hoping for 100 yards a game, like every back would. That wasn't going to take place this past month, but I can't tell you how positive he has been not only in his body language and demeanor, but with other guys too, bringing them along with him. That is the fun part about what I do. I have been around people who the worse it gets outside, the better they get and that is what makes it enjoyable.

Q: He says he is better than 2005.

FERENTZ: He is practicing well. He is running hard and running tough. His attitude is just tremendous.

Q: Going back to Drew for a second. Have you ever worried about how he might view your comments about Jake's demeanor?

FERENTZ: No, and he shouldn't. Again, for the record, I like Drew Tate. As a person, I like him. As a player, I like him a lot. I'll bring this up again too, he is in a pretty small class of guys that have led Iowa to a Big Ten title. That is not a big class. You don't need a 747 to fill that thing up. He accomplished a lot under tough circumstances. The other thing that people lose sight of is the biggest thing that hurt him last year was his injury. He had two big ones. For him to play says a lot about him too. Jake and Drew are totally different. The thing I like about both of them is that they both compete hard, are all about winning, and bringing their best every week. They are totally different personalities. It is kind of like coaches. When we are losing, boy I am too placid. When we are winning, he has things under control. You go the other route with the guy who jumps up and down and you need someone who is more methodical. When they are winning, you have to jump up and down. It all comes down to production. When you produce in the world of sports, that's great. When you don't, you are not enough of this or that. That is the reality and we all know that, players and coaches.

Q: When he said or implied that your offense was predictable, how do you respond to that?

FERENTZ: My first response, particularly in the last half of the season last year, what is etched in my mind was our execution. That is what I see. That is like with systems. To me it comes down to people and execution. That is what I focus on as a coach.

Q: He said some things about Coach O'Keefe. Any comments?

FERENTZ: I think they have a good relationship. I think they always have. I think if you read the article that I read last evening, it probably addresses the whole thing in more detail. To me, it is a much more accurate portrayal of the Drew Tate that I know.

Q: That story was done after he read what he actually said.

FERENTZ: Sure, I am aware of that.

Q: Have you spoken to Drew?

FERENTZ: I haven't had the opportunity. I don't talk to a lot of people during the season. The Drew Tate that I know, in that second article that I read, is a pretty accurate portrayal of that guy. I'll say this, I could see Drew saying anything, but I also know his heart. Like all of our former players, I can only think of one or two that aren't welcome back here. The one's that aren't wouldn't want to come back here anyway. I can probably think of one, but there are probably a lot I don't know about. (laugh)



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