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Harty: Ferentz’s accessibility a welcome change

[ 3 ] April 24, 2012 |

What’s next?

Kirk Ferentz starts meeting every morning with members of the media to sing “Kumbayah” and to update them on what’s happening in his program?

It’ll never get that warm and fuzzy, but Iowa’s football coach has changed his approach with the media this spring. Ferentz has made it so the Bubble isn’t all that came down this spring. So, too, has the iron curtain that for years has made his program mostly impenetrable from an accessibility standpoint.

Ferentz met with the media for the eighth time this spring, which is unprecedented and probably a school record.

He also made every one of his assistant coaches available to the media this spring, including both of his coordinators twice. His assistants never have been totally off limits to the media, but it would usually take a major event, such as a bowl game or media day, to make them available.

“My ears do work; believe it or not they do work,” Ferentz said of his reputation for being stubborn and closed-minded about change. “I am hard-headed, but every now and then ideas penetrate; and I’m not saying we’ll ever meet in the middle, but at least we’ll try to hear things a little bit.”

Ferentz said Tuesday that he opened things up more this spring partly because of all the coaching changes, but also because he knew that’s what the media wanted him to do.

He suddenly seems to realize that when the media have more accessibility, fans have more to read about, so everybody is happy. Ferentz probably has realized that for quite some time, but now he’s actually doing something about it, much to the delight of the media.

“I’ve actually gotten some correspondence back that I appreciated,” Ferentz said without being specific. “People appreciate it. I’m not against that.”

Another reason for the accessibility might be the fact that Iowa has combined to finish 15-11 over the past two seasons and many think the 2012 season will be more of the same. Being average is one thing. Being average and inaccessible is a recipe for disinterest.

Before we get carried away with this new setup, remember it’s only the spring. Don’t assume that Operation Accessibility will continue into the fall. And don’t assume that true freshmen now will suddenly become available for comment.

“In-season, I can’t make any guarantees because my only concern is doing our jobs at that point,” Ferentz said.

His rule that prohibits true freshmen from talking to the media was implemented to protect his first-year players more than to punish the media. The media has come to accept that.

But it’d be nice if Ferentz was available for about 15 minutes on Thursdays after practice during the season just so reporters would have more up-to-date information heading into the weekend. He currently meets with the media on Tuesdays during the season, with select players also available that day.

A lot can happen between Tuesday and Saturday, so meeting briefly at the halfway point would be beneficial.

Ferentz was asked about opening practices to the media, which neither Ferentz nor his predecessor and former boss, Hayden Fry, have allowed. Ferentz didn’t say no way to that, but rather that the media would be let down by attending practice each day.

I doubt that, but let’s take this change one step and one spring at a time. Too much of anything is not good for you.

Reach Pat Harty at pharty@press-citizen.com or 339-7370.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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