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Sporting News ranks Ferentz fifth in Big Ten

[ 17 ] May 4, 2012 |

Kirk Ferentz still ranks among the upper half of the Big Ten football coaches, but is trending downward according to the Sporting News.

Ferentz is ranked fifth among the Big Ten’s 12 head coaches by the Sporting News, which is in the process of unveiling its rankings of all 124 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer heads the list despite never having coached a game in the Big Ten after being hired in late November. Wisconsin coach and former Iowa defensive lineman Bret Bielema is ranked second, followed by Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, Michigan coach Brady Hoke and then Ferentz.

“After winning at least 10 games each year from 2002-2004, Ferentz was a made man,” said the Sporting News. “But he has averaged fewer than eight wins since then and was just 4-4 in league play in both 2010 and 2011.”

The Sporting News points out that Ferentz should win his 100th game at Iowa this season – he enters the 2012 season with a 96-66 record – but it also said a first-place finish in the Legends Division “seems out of the question” for Iowa.

“That’s where Ferentz is at right now in a nutshell,” said the Sporting News. “He’s very respected based on a fine 13-year body of work at Iowa, but he’s no longer one of the very best (if he ever was.)”

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was ranked as the Big Ten’s sixth-best coach by the Sporting News. He is followed by Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald in the seventh spot and first-year Penn State coach Bill O’Brien in the eighth spot. Minnesota coach Jerry Kill is ranked ninth followed by first-year Illinois coach Tim Beckman, Purdue coach Danny Hope and Indiana coach Kevin Wilson.

Entering his 14th season as the Iowa head coach, the 56-year-old Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten football coaches.

He led Iowa to Big Ten titles in 2002 and 2004 and the Hawkeyes have reached bowl-eligible status in each of the past 11 seasons.

Only once, though, since 2004 has Iowa finished as high as second place in the Big Ten. That came in 2009 when the Hawkeyes finished 11-2 overall and 6-2 in the conference.

“He does a great job of recruiting to his system and developing players,” an unidentified fellow BCS coach said of Ferentz to the Sporting News. “And every three or four years, Iowa seems to make a serious run at a Big Ten title.”

Ferentz told reporters this spring that his program needed to make changes, especially on offense, after finishing 4-4 in the Big Ten in each of the past two seasons.

He also said the changes would’ve occurred even if Greg Davis hadn’t replaced Ken O’Keefe as the Iowa offensive coordinator in February.

As for ranking Meyer on top of the list, the Sporting News said “there’s no way to look at this man’s credentials and put him anywhere other than the top spot.”

The 47-year-old Meyer won two national titles as the Florida head coach and has 7-1 record in bowl games.

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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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