Career Advice: Brian Ferentz's Next Move

By HaydensDumplings on February 20, 2019 at 3:35 pm
hello brian
© Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Missing One Maine-Sized Footstep

There is one overarching question looming over the Kinnick fortress: Should Brian Ferentz get the keys to the Kinnick kingdom?

Captain Kirk just wrapped up his 20th season in Iowa City. He has stated--on record--that he “is not getting ready to retire.” He seems to relish the developmental aspect of building a team each year. And at age 63, he is still spry enough to deliver a memorable headbutt (not to mention offer a forceful critique of inconsistent chop block enforcement). 

That said, 63 is 63. And at some point, the season’s grind (the recruiting, press conferences, Gary Barta) will become a drag. As a point of comparison--and reference, Ferentz’s mentor Joe Moore coached 20 seasons of college football before his unceremonious ouster at Notre Dame. Whether in 2026 (when his current contract expires) or before, I assume Kirk has an internal clock of when he would like to retire--and hand off the proverbial family football to his heir apparent: his son.

More than cries of nepotism (which, in my opinion, are overblown -- Brian only worked for the preeminent NFL franchise for four years), here is my concern with Brian’s (potential) ascension to the Hawkeye football throne: He doesn’t have head coaching experience and, quite frankly, doesn’t have a wealth of coaching experience in leadership (coordinator-level) positions. Brian, as GIA faithful know, has been the Hawkeye offensive coordinator for only two years.

Do I believe Brian is unqualified for the Iowa head coaching position? No--I believe underqualified would be the more accurate characterization.

Before the Brian backers fire up that scathing email, hear me out: Iowa, for better or worst, is not a dress rehearsal job. Before Fry and Ferentz assumed the Hawkeye headman role, both had years of head coaching experience to fall back on. Kirk has credited his Maine stint for preparing him for the Iowa City fishbowl. Specifically, his Maine apprenticeship (my words, not his) helped him cobble together a staff of assistant coaches and develop a thicker skin. Kirk on the Maine head coaching gig: "But maybe if I hadn’t been at Maine, I might not have had the confidence to stay the course because, if I recall, there was some flak outside the walls at that time, and that was probably my first experience with getting some flak.”

Assuming the Hawkeye changing of the (head coaching) guard occurs over the next couple of years, it is an open question how Brian would handle the withering scrutiny he would receive as Iowa head football coach. While he has handled himself well as Iowa offensive coordinator (his tirade outside the press box against Minnesota in 2017, duly noted), the intense spotlight he would be under as Iowa head football coach is an altogether different beast. See Satterfield, Abe; Everson, Cedric; and rhabdo, 13 players.

Here’s my unsolicited advice to Brian Ferentz: Strongly consider a head coaching opportunity. There is familial precedent for the move. Your father left Iowa City for Maine after 10 years in the college ranks. You--Brian--have been in the coaching ranks for, you guessed it, 10 years. And somewhat facetiously, the Maine head football position was just open.

Career advice aside, I think Brian has the background and skillset to excel as a (future) Hawkeye head coach. In New England, he oversaw Gronk’s and (NAME REDACTED)’s development into the most explosive tight end pairing in NFL history. At Iowa, he has proven himself to be an effective ambassador/recruiter (and trash talker). And, in part, because of his innovative play calling, Iowa’s offensive production has jumped since the Greg Davis bubble screen days. 

That said, it would be healthy for him to escape the Kirk and, to a lesser extent, KOK bubble--and develop his own head coaching philosophy (What style of defense does he run? Who will be on his staff? How does he handle player transgressions?) These are questions that demand answers before assuming the Iowa head coaching role.

So, yes, follow in your father’s footsteps--but that also includes accepting a head coaching job before graduating to Hawkeye head man.

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