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Rick Brown: Is there a rift between Kirk Ferentz and Urban Meyer?

[ 0 ] October 18, 2013 |

Urban Meyer didn’t waste time ruffling feathers and stepping on toes once he became Ohio State’s football coach in November of 2011.

Using the Buckeyes’ brawny football tradition as his soapbox, Meyer challenged league coaches on a Columbus radio station to keep “pushing the envelope to be better.” He later added, “When you see 11 of the SEC teams in the Top 25 in recruiting, that is something we need to continue to work on and improve.”

Sounds like a challenge, right?

“Hold on a minute, there was never a challenge,” Meyer, who won two national titles at Florida, said at Big Ten’s football media gathering in July.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes try to extend the nation’s longest winning streak – 18 games – when they host Iowa at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, in his 15th season, is the dean of Big Ten coaches. And judging by his responses to Meyer-themed questions at his weekly news conference Tuesday, I don’t think this is a warm and fuzzy friendship.

Asked about how Meyer has ruffled feathers, and his relationship with the Buckeye coach, Ferentz said, “It’s complex…I imagine the guy that coached there in the 1970s, 1960s, probably ruffled feathers, too.”

That was in reference to dictatorial Woody Hayes, who helped build the Buckeye program into a football megapower from 1951 to 1978.

Ferentz is coaching at a school that doesn’t have the built-in advantages Meyer has at Ohio State. Not the budget, the tradition, the in-state talent, the selective recruiting.

Despite that, Ferentz has managed two BCS appearances, a share of two Big Ten titles, four seasons with at least 10 wins and Top 10 national finishes and 10 bowl appearances. So a coach coming in and telling him how to do his business might not sit well.

“I guess I’m not a guy who is looking for friends right now,” Ferentz said when asked how his interaction with Meyer has been. “I have friends in my personal life. We don’t have a dog. Might consider that. It’s been cordial with everybody in our conference.”

Ferentz won’t see much of Meyer in the future. The only scheduled game between now and 2019 comes at Iowa on Nov. 4, 2017.

Ohio State is a 17-point favorite. And with the need to polish its BCS profile, one wonders if Meyer will beat the Hawkeyes with some extra gusto if the opportunity presents itself. Could make for an interesting postgame hand shake.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Rick Brown: Rick Brown covers men's basketball for The Des Moines Register and Hawk Central. He's married and the father of two. He also covers golf for the Register. View author profile.

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