Ostensibly, Kirk Ferentz's press conference on Wednesday was for National Signing Day and to provide updates on some odds and ends regarding the Iowa football team, like spring practice, the players departing for the NFL Draft, and defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon's uncertain status (he entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal last month). And, sure, he talked about that stuff -- Iowa added a grad transfer punter as well as defensive back and a defensive line prospect out of high school as signees today and Ferentz confirmed that spring ball would start in March, with some sort of spring game-type event in April (date TBD). He confirmed that all four of Iowa's early draft entrants have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, that Iowa will continue to search for player additions for 2019 via the transfer (or JUCO) market, though we might not know about any additions there for several months, and he "hopes" that Nixon will remain with the team.
But mostly he talked about punting. So much punting.
Iowa added Arizona State transfer Michael Sleep-Dalton (he signed his letter of intent today and intends to be in Iowa City in May) and, naturally, Ferentz compared him a bit to Iowa's last grad transfer punter, Ron Coluzzi:
#qctimes Kirk Ferentz on P Michael Sleep-Dalton: "We were impressed with his production, impressed him as a young man,'' compares him to adding what Ron Coluzzi added to the program as a grad transfer.— Steve Batterson (@sbatt79) February 6, 2019
Then he just kept talking about punting.
The first 10 minutes or so of KFs signing day press conference has been devoted to punter. #PuntingIsWinning— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 6, 2019
All press conferences should be so wonderful. Let's just go straight to the transcript:
Q. Do you anticipate a three-man punting competition now?
COACH FERENTZ: It's all we got. So, yeah. But, yeah, very fair to say. And this spring it won't be. We'll have two guys out there competing.
THREE-MAN PUNTING COMPETITION.
What a time to be alive.
Q. 43.8 yards a kick. That's an impressive number. Did you view that as pretty legit, 43.8, as you studied this guy?
COACH FERENTZ: Averages are one thing and all that. But what really tells you the picture, you factor in hang time, directional punting, all those types of things that we ask our guys to do. So there are a lot of challenges that punters go through.
But I think also Sunday night is a great example. The punter from New England did a great job. His plus-50 punting, that's a big, big part of being a successful football team. They were playing great defense that night. So those two things helped contribute to their victory. Those are the little things that don't always show up in the stats column. When you go through tape and have a chance to watch a guy, it really is helpful.
He brought up the world-class punting from the Super Bowl UN-PROMPTED. That is so perfect.
Q. Would you prefer not to have two punters on scholarship, or does it matter? Is that something -- because it used to be you'd have 130 scholarships, and punters --
COACH FERENTZ: It would be great to have no punters on scholarship. Not to pick on punters.
whoa who WHOA NO PUNTERS ON SCHOLARSHIP?! WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH THE REAL KIRK FERENTZ? I mean, it was bad enough that you weren't wearing khakis for this presser --
Kirk under way. pic.twitter.com/QE01D6Mll3— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 6, 2019
-- but to blaspheme punters like that too? I need to go lay down.
Q. It's changed?
COACH FERENTZ: It has. It's just something I think you have to consider. And I really -- I've told this to people with young boys. Get these guys punting the ball, because it's really kind of a lost art. Nobody really doesn't seem to want to grow up being a punter now, other than maybe Australians, I guess. And they're smarter than we are.
But that and a deep snapper, Casey Kreider might play until he's 50, realistically. He takes care of himself and he's really good at it. And they're not allowed to hit those guys. It's a really good position. But it's kind of a lost art.
I'm not saying kickers, good kickers are easy to find, but I think with the popularity of soccer, it's probably a little bit of more of a natural transition. Whereas punters are really -- they're becoming more and -- I think more and more hard to find or challenging to find. And it's just not something that people really gravitate towards for whatever reason.
Kids today don't want to be punters. Australians are taking all the punting jobs. Sad!
Q. Is it harder to get them to walk on these days? The old days seems like they mostly did that?
COACH FERENTZ: Yes and no. You can go through routes. There are groups that are going to be recruited as scholarship players and then the other route maybe be a developmental type punter and think about Dave Bradley who was really a high school quarterback, but a good athlete. A lot of times the best punters I've seen were pretty good athletes in their own right.
You think about Reggie Roby, probably would have been All-Big Ten in about four sports and in football maybe All-Big Ten in about four positions, but I think he made the right decision focusing on punting.
Number one, Reggie Roby was the GOAT and I won't hear otherwise. Number two, Ferentz with the '80s Iowa player reference! KF presser bingo is cookin' now.
Q. Outside of Reggie Roby, what do you want out of a punter and how do you want it to be different in 2019 than 2018?
COACH FERENTZ: Compare any punter to Reggie Roby, it's back in the '80s. It's like, this guy is like another Ronnie Harmon. No, he's not. Or Andre Tippett. I'm sorry.
You know, it's really -- it has changed a little bit, I think. The value of directional punting has changed. Rugby punting is obviously entered into it. But the biggest thing is being able to come through when you need them to come through. And I always flashback to these historic moments, but I remember Marv Cook ended up punting for us in '87. We were in a tough spot against Indiana, they had a good team; they were like 18th in the country or something.
But anyway, we were in a tough spot. We had lot momentum out there in Kinnick. We were on the north end zone here and he knocked one 80-plus yards. And he might have had, like, averaging 25 up until that point. But it was just, that's Marv. Like Marv is a clutch player. When you needed a play, he found a way to make a play.
You're damn right Kirk Ferentz told an anecdote about Marv Cook booting an 80-yard punt 32 years ago. This press conference might just be his magnum opus. Read the whole thing.
Oh, and finally:
Kirk Ferentz: Im still ticked off about Drew Ott. (Yes!)— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 6, 2019
Never mind, it's still the old Kirk after all.