It's the last press conference of the regular season, and it's Nebraska week, so we might as well just get right to it. As always, full transcript and video over at Hawkeye Nation.
COME OUT FIRING
It's the last weekly press conference where Ferentz will be talking about third-year starting quarterback Nathan Stanley, and here's what he said first:
Good afternoon. I’m only laughing because I saw a clip back there of Brett Favre playing against somebody. Just dawned on me that’s probably why Stanley wears No. 4, I guess. I’m a slow learner; didn’t piece that together. Probably should have known that when we were recruiting him.
If this is the last season that I write Tuesdays with Borey, this is truly the way it should end: Ferentz sitting backstage, getting ready for his press conference by watching old clips of Brett Favre running the 2019 Kirk Ferentz Offense, then coming to the realization that his Wisconsin-based quarterback is wearing Favre's number despite having known Stanley as a recruit or player for seven years, then calling himself a "slow learner" to the assembled media. It's the 'Andy Kaufman fighting Jerry Lawler' of press conference performance comedy.
Not much new to report: "Medically we’re about where we were Saturday." Sounds like Brandon Smith still isn't fully recovered and won't start, but will likely be available if needed Friday afternoon. "He’s clearly not 100 percent healthy at this point. We’ll just kind of play that one by ear."
KILLING 'EM WITH KINDNESS
I doubt Kirk meant this, but holy hell what a jab at Nebraska:
Our paths [Kirk and Scott Frost] probably first crossed when he was at UNI, and if you follow his career, everywhere he’s been as a coach he’s had tremendous success, whether it was as an assistant or now as a head coach both at Central Florida and Nebraska. He’s done a great job...
Scott Frost is 9-14 in two seasons at Nebraska, 6-11 in the Big Ten. Nebraska is paying more than a million dollars per win to him, and they just extended his contract because they had to. To say that record is "tremendous success" and that he's "done a great job" is such magnificent trolling that, if he meant it, Kirk has permission to use my Twitter account to snark Nebraska fans for the rest of eternity.
FOUR DAYS TO GO
There really wasn't that much to the presser today -- It's a short week, plus the holiday, and the season is essentially over, so the writers are justifiably out of stuff to talk about, and it's not like Kirk is going to wax poetic without prompting -- but it's clear that Ferentz wants to keep his team focused on the task at hand. There were three long answers on how tough last year's game against Nebraska was. There was a quick pivot from a question about a potential ten-win season back to Friday's game. And there was this, on why Nebraska players say that Iowa doesn't respect them:
I have no idea where that comes from. All I know is it took us a 4th down conversion and a good field goal to win last year. It was hard. One thing we try to teach our players is to respect every opponent that we play and respect what it takes to win. I think that’s one thing if you play college football long enough or coach it long enough, you realize just how difficult it is to win a game against anybody. So yeah, we respect everybody we play. That’s week in and week out, and that’s opponent after opponent after opponent, whether it’s Middle Tennessee or last week it was Illinois, it really doesn’t matter to us. They’re all — that’s how upsets happen. We’ve been involved in a few of those through the years, too. You have to always respect what it takes to win.
First, Kirk knows exactly where that comes from. It comes from the same place he uses for motivation when Iowa faces Ohio State or Michigan or Penn State. You find motivation where you can get it, and Nebraska is finding it in the lack of respect shown to an opponent that hasn't beaten Iowa since the middle of Obama's second term. And Kirk can't say it, but he knows that.
But second: The framing of that answer, with Nebraska as an opponent just as worthy of respect as Middle Tennessee and Illinois, is the unique place where Nebraska gets its disrespect claim. Nebraska demands that everyone kiss the ring, even though the ring was stolen two decades ago. They don't demand respect. They demand fealty. And you're goddamn right Iowa isn't going to give them that.
USELESS SOUND MONTAGE
- " I applaud Hy-Vee for its sponsorship in the whole thing."
- "I guess this is our last black Friday, at least I’ve been told that. At some point I guess it’ll resume, but sorry to hear about that, and we’ll deal with that as we go along."
- "We’ve got to block better and we’ve got to run better."
- "For whatever reason we didn’t play Illinois for whatever, three or four years, whatever it was there. It was kind of weird."
- "I remember the Johnny Carson Show they told Iowa-Minnesota jokes, was that like 60 years ago probably?"
- "That’s at the top of the board because you can’t go any higher. It would be mathematically impossible."
- "You’ve got to be in shape mentally, and you’ve got to be able to get up every morning and put one foot in front of the other."
- "[W]e’re not as good at tight end or as experienced, and it’s kind of a dumb statement, we had two first-rounders last year, right, so yeah, no kidding we’re not as good."
- "I’m not very smart but I’ve got a lot of smart friends that send me neat stuff."
- "But I’m so dumb today, I’m looking for the buckets, right. There’s no buckets out there."