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Tampa icon John Gruden checks out Hawkeye practice

[ 0 ] December 26, 2013 |

TAMPA, Fla. – Jon Gruden is a popular figure in the Tampa Bay area, but his appearance Thursday at an Iowa football practice may have raised gawking to a different level.

“I’m sure the kids knew he was in there,” Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz said. “That’s a good thing.

“Kind of like when the pro scouts or GMs come out to practice.”

Gruden, who coached the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title, is part of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” crew, and will be in the booth for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl.

“Usually they show up a couple days before the game,” Ferentz said of the television folks. “But coach Gruden lives here in town, so I guess he was probably looking for something to do.

“You know, get out of the house a little bit.”

Climate change: The temperature in Tampa reached 78 degrees Thursday.

That’s roughly 73 degrees higher than when players and coaches met with the media Monday at the Outback Steakhouse in Coralville.

“I think the big thing for us is just kind of getting used to the temperature change,” long snapper Casey Kreiter said. “Speaking for myself, especially. We were in Iowa and it’s negative-7 when we leave. We get here, and it feels like it might be 80 degrees.”

Will that impact next week’s game against Louisiana State?

“Not at all,” Kreiter said. “We dealt with hotter than this during (summer) camp.

“We’ve just got to get used to it, and go back to work.”

Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz agreed.

“It’s just like camp, when you go in there that first day, it’s really hot and your legs aren’t really underneath you,” Fiedorowicz said. “But we’ve got seven days to prepare for it, so we’re going to be just fine.”

Back in a bowl: Missing the postseason last year helped left tackle Brandon Scherff appreciate the little things.

“I honestly didn’t like being with my family around that time,” Scherff said with a wry grin. “We’d rather be down here and warm, having our families down here, too.”

The Hawkeyes went 4-8 last year, failing to qualify for a bowl invite for the first time since 2000.

In the news: There wasn’t much mention of the Outback Bowl in Thursday’s edition of the Tampa Bay Times, but another Jan. 1 event was on the front page.

New Year’s Day marks the 100th anniversary of the first commercial air flight, which went from St. Petersburg to Tampa, and back, in 1914. A reenactment will take place on New Year’s Day morning before Iowa and LSU kick off.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 15 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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