After this past week’s 54-10 bludgeoning, Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz stood tall at the podium, and navigated what was arguably the toughest press conference of the season.
But one response to a question regarding his defense potentially facing fatigue & burnout sent shockwaves (and flashbacks) to frustrated Hawkeye fans.
Ferentz subsequently said “I got in trouble for saying that, let me retract that statement. That’s how football can play out sometimes.”
Because this wasn’t the first time the Hawkeyes coach had made the quip, or the second.
Let’s go back to 2014. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was the most played song, LeBron James had just begun his second stint as a Cleveland Cavalier, and Iowa had a cataclysmic meltdown against Nebraska.
The Hawkeyes owned a 17-point lead in the final game of the regular season. But Iowa allowed the Cornhuskers to send the game to overtime, and Nebraska pulled off a stunning 37-34 upset at Kinnick.
Kirk Ferentz didn’t have any good answers, but he did have three “That’s football” quotes:
“That’s football. It goes back and forth, and fortunately we were able to get it going again and get back there and score to get to 28.”
“I think both teams competed hard last week and this week, and that’s football.”
“That’s football. There’s ebb and flow. You could probably ask the same thing about their offense in the first half up until the last drive.”
The hashtag trended on twitter and the Iowa Book store even began selling shirts amidst the craze.
Fans couldn’t believe their head coach’s proverbial shrug. And as Ferentz told us, he got in trouble with AD Gary Barta.
Fast-forward 5 years later: Surely Kirk Ferentz learned his lesson by this point, right?
Iowa was coming off of a major upset over No. 8 Minnesota, and Kirk Ferentz said it again — in humorous fashion. Normally immobile Iowa QB Nate Stanley used his legs to help the Hawkeyes move the chains?
It was funny and nobody made anything of it, right? But Kirk Ferentz remembered he shouldn’t be saying that.
The approach reeks of indifference, and it could be another way of saying, ‘Bleep happens.’ Maybe it’s just his way of describing his football principles.
But two (one more than one) days after saying, “That’s football,” retracting it and rewording it, he did it again.
Arland Bruce IV, one of Iowa’s top receivers, voiced feeling pressure for the offense to hold up their end of the bargain. And letting Iowa’s stellar defense down.
“We’re giving the other team the ball at the 30-yard line and they’re limiting them to field goals,” Bruce said. “It’s definitely frustrating.”
Kirk, what would you say to Arland?
“That’s football — I know I said that Saturday, too,” Ferentz acknowledged.
And then we reached the second stage: Retraction. (It was even struck from the official transcript.)
“I’ll re-qualify that so I don’t get in trouble.”
Followed by a rephrase:
“Football is a very dynamic thing, you never know how things are going to shake out. Every year is different, every story is different.”
He added: “If guys on the team understand that concept, then I don’t think you have issues with the teamwork part, as long as everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to do, making the contribution they’re supposed to make and putting the effort and commitment in that’s part of being on a team.”
So to sum things up, Kirk Ferentz is a living, breathing control-z button.
But to send things off on a fun note, former footballer Petr Cech teamed up with drummer Roger Taylor and performed a song called “That’s football” three years ago when the legendary goalie retired.
If I slice up some Kirk quotes and write a song, maybe I could convince the Hawkologist to sing it. But that’s a project for another time.
Iowa’s an 11-point favorite against Northwestern, who perhaps is the only team that can say their QB situation is almost as bad as Iowa’s. If the Hawkeyes can’t find a way to win, that’s losing football.