Iowa Media Day Takeaways

Iowa Media Day

Big Ten Media Days kicked off on Tuesday with seven of the 14 conference head coaches taking the podium in Indianapolis. Iowa was among the first group. Head coach Kirk Ferentz took the stage to speak about the outlook of the 2022 football season. He used the majority of his 15-minute window to make an opening statement, leaving only a few minutes for questions. Ferentz spoke a great deal about how the people within the program are what is making his football team successful. At Iowa, it has long been more about the development of individuals than strictly as football players. His message to the team continues to be the same this season in what will be his 24th year as the head man, and 33rd with the program in total. 

2021 Results

Last season, Iowa was 10-4 and finished the regular season with 10 wins and a Big Ten West Division championship. Since 2019, Iowa has won 74% of their football games, good for second best in Ferentz’ tenure. His best three-year run was from 2002-2004. The Hawkeyes tallied three double-digit winning seasons in a row for an 82% winning percentage in that span. 

The Changing Landscape of College Football

Ferentz opened his press conference with a statement on the direction of the world of college football. He said “I’m really concerned with the path college football is on right now,” making reference to the quickly changing nature of the sport in recent months. This is not to say he doesn’t agree with the changes that are happening. More likely, he he said he is worried that it could get out of hand without proper governance. He followed that statement by saying that he is eager to see where the sport goes. Ferentz is in support of the NIL foundations and players earning compensation for their name.

The head coach spoke highly of the CEO of Iowa’s new NIL collective Brad Heinrichs during his press conference at Media Days. Ferentz said one of the reasons he was hesitant with coming back to college football 24 years ago was the idea of working with donors. However, he stated that he has been able to build great relationships with the donors at Iowa over the years. He said he is happy with the direction that the program is moving under the leadership of Heinrichs. The “Swarm Collective” is the name of Iowa’s collective. It will be providing financial support to athletes within the football and basketball programs going forward.

The Message for 2022

Above all, Ferentz’ message to the team this season has been about people. He said it is “To focus on the love of the game, the love of the work involved, and the love of the people you’re with.” He said with this mentality year-in and year-out, Iowa has been able to not only build individuals into better players, but better people. At the end of the day, only a small percentage of players get an opportunity to play at the next level. Ferentz said it at the podium, that most guys will have their playing careers end when their collegiate eligibility comes to an end. Putting an emphasis on building individuals into better people goes a long way in the strength of the program. 

This motto relates back to the changes that the 2020 offseason brought to the Hawkeye program as well. Ferentz took great strides to rid the program of its negative influences, and focused on building a path to greater player individuality. Among these changes, Ferentz loosened the requirements on dress within the facilities and began allowing his players to use social media accounts like Twitter during their time with the program. They also founded a football player leadership group to help re-establish the importance of the individual. All of these changes within the program have helped lead Iowa to some of their best seasons in recent history.

Quarterback Questions

At Iowa Media Day, Ferentz was also asked about the quarterback position and the new leader of the quarterbacks room. That being his son, and offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz. The younger Ferentz has been at the helm of the quarterbacks for about five months and the head coach is pleased with the work he has done thus far.

One of the things that Ferentz pointed out was that he wanted the play-caller, Brian, to also be the one in charge of the quarterbacks. He said that pairing just kind of makes sense with the flow of the offense. In that sense, it does help things fall into place. However, the real test will be to see how the quarterbacks and the offense both perform this coming season. The group as a whole was in the bottom 25% of all FBS teams last season in production statistics. Iowa managed to win 10 games last year, but an improvement on offense could take this team to new heights.

The Starter

He also discussed the position in itself. Ferentz brought up both Alex Padilla and Spencer Petras when talking about the success of the team last year. He did so in a way that praised both guys for helping bring wins to the team while calling them both “starters.” His mention of the two quarterbacks made no indication as to who is the clear starter for this year. However, Petras is listed as the number one guy in the newest two-deep depth chart released on Tuesday.

Iowa Media Day Takeaways

The defense could be one of the best in Phil Parker’s tenure as defensive coordinator. They return one of the best linebacker groups in the country, led by senior Jack Campbell. Back deep, Riley Moss leads the group at cornerback. Both Campbell and Moss were named to the Bronko Nagurski preseason watch list for 2022.

Iowa will get two of the Big Ten East’s toughest opponents this season. They will host Michigan and travel to Columbus to face Ohio State. The depth and talent of the Hawkeye defense will be on display weekly. It will be up to the offense to determine the overall ceiling of this program. With improvements made to that side of the ball, the Hawkeyes are very much in position to repeat as Big Ten West champions, a feat that has not been done since 2016-17.

Embed from Getty Images