Damage control caused by finishing 4-8 last season and a head coach with a son who likes to think outside the box are my guesses for why the Iowa football team will hold an open practice on April 20th in West Des Moines.
Another reason might be to annoy those loyal to Iowa State just a little bit because it’s probably not a coincidence that the open practice at Valley Stadium will be held on the same day as Iowa State’s annual spring game in Ames.
If anything, it sends a message, or is perhaps a response to the billboards promoting Cyclone athletics that Iowa State athletics director Jamie Pollard had placed in Cedar Rapids.
Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz announced the news about the open practice in West Des Moines on Twitter Monday night. He encouraged fans to attend the event, which he also probably helped to arrange after convincing his father, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, to give it a shot.
At least, that’s my theory.
Brian Ferentz is convincing his father, one new wrinkle at a time, to try new things, to show fans that the Iowa football program is willing to come to them for a change.
The days of the Iowa football team being the only show in town are long gone, caused in part by the rise of the Internet and social media, but also by Iowa State’s rise in football and by Iowa’s recent skid. The Cyclones are hardly a power, but they have pulled even with Iowa on the football field as evidenced by Kirk Ferentz’s 6-8 record against Iowa State.
Regardless of whether Brian Ferentz is the catalyst behind the open practice, it’s still a good idea, something fresh for a program now being described as stale. It shows that the Iowa coaches still consider central Iowa, the Des Moines area specifically, to be Hawkeye territory.
It also shows that Kirk Ferentz is willing to think outside the box, or at least allow others to think that way while the program is struggling.
It just seems more than a coincidence that Iowa has scheduled a spring practice in West Des Moines on the heels of its worst season in more than a decade and barely a year after Brian Ferentz returned to his alma mater to coach under his father. Whatever the case, I applaud the decision to do something different from which fans and high school coaches will benefit the most.
The details for the open practice haven’t been finalized and Iowa sports Information Director Steve Roe said Tuesday there would be no comment at this time from anybody in the Iowa athletic department.
It’ll take a huge effort to pull it off because it’s not easy transporting roughly 100 players, along with the coaches, staff members, equipment and whatever else is needed for a spring practice two hours away from campus.
For those wondering, the open practice in West Des Moines will not mark the end of Iowa’s spring drills. Iowa will conclude spring practice the following Saturday by having an open practice at Kinnick Stadium.
Brian Ferentz’s addition to the staff is one of six coaching changes that have occurred under his father since late in the 2011 season. The open practice in West Des Moines will be a way to introduce the three new staff members – Jim Reid, Bobby Kennedy and Chris White – to the fans.
The Iowa football program is at crossroads, although, you could argue that it’s already headed down the wrong path based on what happened last fall.
Holding a spring practice in West Des Moines won’t make it any easier for the Iowa quarterbacks to throw down field next season. But it will show fans that their loyalty is greatly appreciated.
As for Iowa State’s response, holding a spring practice at Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids would annoy Iowa fans, even more so than the billboards did.
I’m not suggesting that Iowa scheduled a spring practice in West Des Moines simply to annoy those loyal to Iowa State. It was done more so to promote Iowa’s image and to reach out to the fans because somebody on the Iowa staff now has Kirk Ferentz thinking outside the box.
But if you can promote your cause while also annoying your instate rival just a little bit, it seems too good to resist.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football