Here’s one of my favorite Zooker stories. It’s out of the press conference before the 2003 Iowa-Florida Outback Bowl:
By RANDY PETERSON REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Tampa, Fla. -Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz was in an Us-Against-the-World mode Sunday. His counterpart at Florida was in a world of his own.
When asked to comment on Hawkeye all-America place-kicker Nate Kaeding, Gators coach Ron Zook said:
“Well, I mean he’s a little like our situation in that all three of our running backs are a little different in the way that they run, the way they attack, their power and that kind of thing,” Zook said. “When you look at what they’ve done running the football, you have to feel that they’ve done something right.”
Fred Russell will be running the ball for Iowa, not Kaeding, when the 13th-ranked Hawkeyes play No. 17 Florida in the Outback Bowl at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Sorry, coach, but Kaeding will be the one kicking off, and attempting field goals – unless he runs the field-goal fake that turned into a touchdown against Ohio State.
“They can scout that right corner all they want,” Kaeding said, laughing when told of Zook’s confusion. “The more guys they put over there, the better.”
Sunday was the coaches’ first official press conference, and shortly after the session began, Ferentz was asked if opposing coaches talk badly about Iowa on the recruiting trail.
Often business-like, Ferentz responded with an attempt at humor.
“Oh sure it happens,” Ferentz said. “We always inform prospects that we have electricity now. We have indoor plumbing and blacktop roads. No, we don’t live in igloos. All the livestock comes off the street every weekend during recruiting seasons.
“Those are the kinds of things that makes recruiting silly at times. Especially if you’re having success, people are going to come up with some stuff that’s childish and silly. That’s recruiting.”
The follow-up question was predictable.
Uhh coach, what about the National Football League?
“We’re 13 minutes into the press conference,” Ferentz said, looking at his watch. “All riiiiiiight.”
Then Ferentz went on to comment that never-ending rumors linking him to the NFL are just rumors. An ESPN report Sunday said the Arizona Cardinals have “checked with” Ferentz about their expected opening.
Atlanta and the New York Giants have fired coaches already. More firings will come this week.
“Same thing all over again,” Ferentz said. “It’s out there. It’s going to be out there. That’s it. I’m not going anywhere.
Regarding the popularity of Iowa football, Ferentz said:
“I grew up in Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh’s a Steelers town,” he said. “The University of Iowa . . . we’re the Steelers of the entire state.
“It’s a great place to live. You need a winter coat, but that’s OK. That’s why they make them. Smart guys came up with these (heavy) coats that work great.”
Iowa has three starters from the state of Florida who had to buy those heavy coats -receiver Maurice Brown, linebacker Abdul Hodge and cornerback Antwan Allen. The Hawkeyes have recruited in the state of Florida throughout Ferentz’s five seasons at Iowa.
“We don’t have the luxury of having 100-plus Division I prospects in our state -typically we’re around five-to-10, somewhere in that ballpark,” Ferentz said.
Seriously now, Florida is a 3 1/2-point favorite to extend Iowa’s January losing streak to four games.
“Anytime you win is great, but if you win against a traditional power like Florida, it’s a greater thing,” Ferentz said.
“It’s going to be a great challenge. If we play our best game, we’ll let the chips fall where they may. If we do that, we’ll have a chance, no question about it.”
Ferentz even one-upped Zook. He said the right things when asked to comment on Florida freshman linebacker Channing Crowder.
“He brings a certain emotion to their defense,” Ferentz said. “He’s a very fiery guy, an emotional guy. He has a great linebacker temperament, and he’s playing very well out there.”
After practice Sunday, Iowa offensive tackle Robert Gallery took Ferentz’s Us-Against-the-World mantra to another level when asked how many Iowa fans he expected to be at the game.
“They only thing I know is that we’ll have 20,000 tractors rolling down the Interstate pretty soon,” Gallery said.
But only after the livestock are off the streets.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football