With the 18 players having police run ins and the major sexual assault allegations lingering, somewhere along the line character was compromised. Whether character is the reason Iowa has hovered around .500 for the last couple seasons or if the downturn has resulted in the higher risk taking in recruiting, either way the jimmy's and the joe's they are bringing in aren't working because Ferentz has proven that the x's and o's do. Now the once heralded head man may be on thin ice. Maybe there is something to be said for 'striking while the iron is hot' and 'beating the posse' in the crazy coaching business. Loyalty and losing have only one thing in common and thats in Webster dictionary.
Ferentz on hot seat at Iowa
Don't feel too sorry for Kirk Ferentz, one of Western Pennsylvania's own who made it big as a college football coach. The hard fall he could take at Iowa because of an alleged rape by two of his former players would be cushioned by the $10 million he made in the past three seasons.
It seems a little hard to believe now that Ferentz, who will lead Iowa against Pitt tomorrow at Heinz Field in a game that could go a long way toward determining his coaching future and Dave Wannstedt's at Pitt, was just about the hottest thing going in the college game a few years ago. He was The Associated Press' Coach of the Year in 2002. Iowa shared the Big Ten Conference championship in '02 and '04 and played in four consecutive New Year's Day bowls from '02-'05. NFL fame and millions were his for the taking. All he had to do was say yes to one of the many pro jobs he could have had.
But Ferentz stayed at Iowa.
It looks now as if that was a bad mistake.
From a personal standpoint, Ferentz clearly has no regrets -- and not just because of that $10 million, which easily makes him the highest-paid state employee in Iowa. He wanted his five children to have a sense of stability and "to know where home is," just as he did growing up in Upper St. Clair. Iowa City seemed like the right place for that. The four older kids attended the same high school and went to Iowa. The youngest, Steve, is in ninth grade and could end up playing for his dad, as his older brothers -- Brian, a Hawkeyes captain in '05, and James, a freshman center on this year's team -- did.
That's if Ferentz, in his 10th season at Iowa, can keep his job that long.
Iowa has dropped far back in the Big Ten pack. It went 6-7 in '06, losing to Texas in the Alamo Bowl. It finished 6-6 last season and didn't go to a bowl for the first time in seven years. Almost inconceivably, it lost its final game to Western Michigan at home with a trip to the Insight Bowl on the line.
Forbes magazine recently rated Ferentz as the most-overpaid coach in college football.
Even worse for Ferentz is a flurry of off-the-field troubles involving his players. Just as at Penn State, which has had similar problems with its players, there's a perception that Iowa -- specifically, Ferentz -- has lowered the standards and taken chances on kids with questionable character to win big again. Since April '07, at least 18 Iowa players have had issues with the police. Most serious are the rape allegations against Abe Satterfield and Cedric Everson, who since have been dismissed from the team. They have pleaded not guilty to raping an Iowa female athlete in a university dorm last October. Their trial is scheduled for Nov. 3.
Can ESPN's "Outside the Lines" be far away from knocking on Ferentz's door?
The mother of the alleged rape victim has accused Iowa officials of improperly investigating the incident. If there was a cover-up, it could bring down a lot of important people at Iowa, everyone from President Sally Mason to general counsel Marcus Mills to athletic director Gary Barta to Ferentz.
Ferentz has denied any wrongdoing.
The scandal is unfortunate because Ferentz, just like Joe Paterno at Penn State, is widely regarded as a good man with good intentions. The many relatives and friends who will be at Heinz Field tomorrow to cheer for Iowa swear by him. His program, until the past two years, was virtually squeaky clean.
The question now: Has Ferentz built up enough good will to make it through the rough days ahead and the scandal that doesn't figure to go away anytime soon?
The short answer: Ferentz had better win big this season, just in case.
You know the sad truth of big-time college athletics: Winning trumps all evils.
That makes the game tomorrow especially important.
Wannstedt and Pitt need a win because he's in his fourth season and, aside from that glorious Dec. 1 night in Morgantown last year, the Panthers have shown few signs that he has them on the path back to prominence. They had a dreadful home loss to Bowling Green in their opener Aug. 30 before struggling to beat Buffalo. A loss to Iowa could do irreparable damage to the program.
Ferentz and Iowa need a win to build a little momentum going into the Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes are 3-0, but, as Ferentz readily acknowledges, they've "hardly done anything yet." All three wins were at home, two against cupcakes Maine and Florida International and the third against rival Iowa State in a game that was 3-3 into the fourth quarter. A loss to Pitt easily could lead to a third consecutive bad season.
Considering the circumstances, it's hard to say which coach needs the win more.
Ferentz, I'm thinking.