Every Saturday, once the Hawkeyes players and Kirk Ferentz are done meeting the media in the postgame interview session, we trek back to their work areas to finish our stories from the day.
For the on-camera folks, we all have our various routines.
Some of us go straight to the field and record our stand-ups for the postgame wraps. Some go edit highlights. Some go listen to their interviews. I typically do a mix and match of all three depending on the newscast deadlines that day, but I generally record my stand-up a few minutes later than most, somewhere near the numbers toward the Hawkeyes sideline.
Like clockwork, at all eight home games I’ve covered for Hawkeye Headquarters, Kirk Ferentz rides by sitting shotgun in a slow-moving golf cart, and we exchange pleasantries.
Every. Single. Game.
Walk-off loss to Penn State? Absolutely.
Blowout win over Ohio State? Of course.
Saturday’s record-breaking victory? Definitely.
The words aren’t inspiring or memorable. It’s usually a comment like, “Thanks for coming out” with my response of “Have a good night, coach”.
There’s not a single reason he needs to acknowledge my presence — I’m a working media member, and usually a disheveled, mumbling mess trying to figure out how to convey the story of the game to my audience before I press record.
He’s showered, probably mulling over where the team needs to improve, and usually dressed in a sport coat and tie, on his way to dinner and/or an event with family, coaches, alumni and the like.
Yet every week, we say our words, he gives a nod and I throw up my hand. Gestures of respect, if only for a few seconds.
It’s something genuine, because THAT is Kirk Ferentz.
THAT is why dozens of former Iowa players came back to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. THAT is why the longest-tenure head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision is so revered in the coaching ranks across the country.
And THAT is why he’s now the all-time winningest coach at Iowa.