Monday, January 02, 2006

If Ferentz Is Leaving the Hawkeyes And Heading To the Green Bay Packers, He Has Reason To Say He Was A Robbery Victim In His Last Collegiate Game

If the rumors are true that Kirk Ferentz [right] will be headed to the Green Bay Packers or have his pick of a number of other jobs in the NFL, the Iowa football coach was a robbery victim in his final game on a collegiate sideline.

Officials from Conference USA called Hawkeye senior linebacker deluxe Chad Greenway offside on the onside kick that Iowa recovered late in its 31-24 Outback Bowl loss to Florida today at Tampa, Fla.

TV replays showed it was a lousy call.

Plainly and simply, Ferentz and his Hawkeyes got screwed.

With 1 minute 24 seconds remaining, Iowa should have been awarded possession of the ball and been in position to score the touchdown that, with the conversion, would have tied the score, 31-31, and perhaps sent the game into overtime.

Instead, the offside call forced the Hawkeyes to kick off again, and that time Florida recovered to preserve the victory nd leave Iowa with a 7-5 record--its poorest since 2001.

Several TV replays clearly showed that Greenway was not offside on the first onside kick.

"The game is too fast for these officials," charged Chris Spielman, the outspoken and very good analyst on the ESPN telecast of the game.

Spielman [pictured at the left], a former player at Ohio State and in the NFL, several times said Greenway wasn't offside.

He also thought a game matching teams from the Big Ten and Southeastern Conferences should not have been officiated by a Conference USA crew.

"They should use a split crew from the Big Ten and SEC," Spielman said.

The ridiculous calls in the Iowa-Florida game didn't match those made by a Sun Belt officiating crew in the Michigan-Nebraska Alamo Bowl game, but they came in a close second.

Today's officials called a phantom facemask penalty against Iowa wide receiver Clinton Solomon. Actually, TV replays showed a Florida player grabbing Solomon by the facemask.

Late in the game, Spielman noticed that Florida had 12 players on the field. But the officials didn't. No penalty was called.

Iowa fell behind, 31-7, before rallying. Things started badly for the Hawkeyes when Andy Fenstermaker's first punt of the game was blocked and turned into a 6-yard touchdown dash by Tremaine McCollum with 1:35 gone.

"I think it might have been a bust in terms of our mechanics," Ferentz told his postgame radio audience. "It was a tough way to start the game."

Florida [9-3] also capitalized on a fake punt that turned into a first down rush by Bill Latsko late in the game.

"That was a great call by coach [Urban] Meyer," Ferentz said. "You have to admire their courage for doing that. It was a momentum-swinger."

Florida also benefitted from a 60-yard touchdown scamper by Vernell Brown after intercepting one of Drew Tate's passes.

Tate completed 32 of 55 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns, but the Hawkeyes had no running game. They totaled only 64 yards on the ground.


Ferentz is again being called a hot coaching commodity in NFL circles, just as he was in recent seasons.

Now, with pro coaches falling like tin soldiers, Ferentz's name is going to keep coming to the surface until he flat-out says he's staying at Iowa.

Jobs are open at Minnesota, Green Bay, Houston, Detroit, Kansas City, St. Louis and New Orleans. More coaches may also be fired in the next day or so.

ESPN pro reporter Chris Mortensen said, "This is the first time we're hearing indicators that Ferentz will listen to opportunities in the NFL. I think.....we'll know in the next two or three days whether that's serious.

"I've heard his name linked to the Green Bay job [where coach Mike Sherman was fired this morning]. He certainly would be at the top of a lot of coaching lists....I think Kirk Ferentz will be the hot candidate."

One reason people think Ferentz might listen to an offer from an NFL team now is because his son, Brian -- Iowa's starting center -- has played his final collegiate game.

Gary Dolphin asked Ferentz on the radio network about the NFL rumors after the Outback Bowl game.

"Do you listen to that [sort of talk] anymore, coach?" asked Dolphin.

"I don't," said Ferentz. "You're more up to date on that stuff than I am. The only thing I can say is that it's better than four or five years ago.....I guess it's six or seven years ago when everybody was saying I wouldn't be here for other reasons.

"At least I have job security right now -- at least for the next week or two."

Ferentz had a 1-10 record in 1999 and was 3-9 in 2000 at Iowa. That's what he meant when he said people then were saying he "wouldn't be here for other reasons."

Stay tuned. Until Ferentz says he's definitely staying at Iowa, his name will continue to be brought up by NFL teams.