Friday, January 06, 2006

Columnists' Corner

Steven M. Sipple, Lincoln Journal Star: Talk of Nebraska coach Bill Callahan returning to the NFL is a bunch of hogwash.

Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star: Postseason expectations for the Big 12 were low, but the conference has something to be proud of after its teams went 5-3 (registration).

Mitch Vingle, Charleston Gazette: A word of advice for West Virginia fans: Don't dawdle on buying tickets for the 2006 season.

Ray Melick, Birmingham News: Even with replay, officiating in bowl games hit a new low and complaints hit a new high.

Ron Morris, Columbia State: If you are a defensive coordinator and working for Steve Spurrier, this is what to expect.

Mike Hlas, Cedar Rapids Gazette: Kirk Ferentz to the Houston Texans? It doesn't seem like the right job or the right time for the Iowa coach to make the move (subscription, so story is in comments).

1 comment:

dawizofodds said...

Hold your horses: Don’t call Ferentz ’Tex’ just yet

Mike Hlas
Cedar Rapids Gazette

The Houston Texans? Right now? Kirk Ferentz?

Nah. It doesn’t seem like the job or the time for Ferentz, even though Reggie Bush is headed the Texans’ way.

Still, you have to figure that Texans owner Bob McNair has certain powers of persuasion, since he convinced the NFL to give an expansion franchise to Houston instead of Los Angeles several years ago. You assume that a guy who could pay $700 million for an NFL franchise and lead the push for Houston to build the sensational Reliant Stadium has a shot at getting the football coach he wants.

McNair is someone of vast achievement in business and civic matters. Should he and his brain trust that includes well-respected NFL people such as General Manager Charley Casserly and consultant Dan Reeves pinpoint Iowa’s football coach as their favorite candidate to coach the Texans and pursue him hard? Well, wouldn’t that be interesting?

But maybe Ferentz will nip this in the bud any minute now, and we can focus on how Carver-Hawkeye Arena will again be lost Saturday to a hostile takeover by Illinois fans.

If you didn’t believe it before, believe it now. Ferentz wants to be an NFL head coach. Some day. You don’t interview for an NFL job — or at least let it hang out there for a while that you’re interviewing somewhere — if you aren’t interested in eventually getting one.

It isn’t as if Ferentz needs more leverage at Iowa. And, though it probably isn’t much of a hindrance, having your name floated for NFL jobs can’t help recruiting.

Ferentz can quickly dart away from this Houston business and say he was merely listening out of courtesy, much like he did three years ago when the Jacksonville Jaguars were the suitors. Fine. But this is still an effort by him to stay identified as coaching material in the NFL, where he has many friends and admirers.

This coach will probably bid Iowa adieu when the time, place and degree of control feel right. That window of opportunity doesn’t stay open forever, by the way.

You can win a Super Bowl at any NFL franchise if the franchise is committed to winning and the organization has the people in charge who are capable of doing so. The same can’t be said in college football. You can do great things at Iowa, as Ferentz has proven, but the big winning and the best recruiting come so much easier at a handful of superpowers.

Did Texas’ win over USC in Wednesday’s Rose Bowl remind anyone of an Iowa game they’d seen recently? Uh, no. Albert Young is a very nice back. Vince Young is otherworldly. Have you seen anyone like Bush play for Iowa, or Iowa State, or Wisconsin, or Minnesota, or one of more than 100 I-A programs that aren’t college superpowers?

Iowa can vie for a national title only if virtually everything in a season breaks right. The teams that have finished first in the final AP polls since 2000 — Oklahoma, Miami, Ohio State, USC (twice) and Texas — have featured the kind of game-breakers Iowa seldom attracts.

If you’re a coach with ability and ambition, how long do you really want to fight your heart out to get to January bowls of any kind? Meanwhile, the Vince Youngs and Reggie Bushes stack the decks for the elite programs.

Iowa, meanwhile, is like the boy whose girlfriend gets whistled at a lot. He knows he should be flattered, but the heart doesn’t work that way.

I used that same analogy two years ago when mild Ferentz-to-the-NFL rumors flew. Maybe I’ll haul it out again two years from now. If Ferentz is still here, that is.