We’re two weeks away from 7-5 Iowa’s bowl game against 7-5 Kentucky at the Music City Bowl. We’re also three weeks removed from Iowa’s final regular season game. With some time to reflect on the season, I decided to have some fun.
My first season covering the Iowa Hawkeyes had a little bit of everything. A 7-hour lightning delay, road trips highlighted by Columbus and Minneapolis, and more than a few memorable soundbites. Without dipping into the war chest of inside jokes at my disposal, let’s go back to the origin of where some of them came from.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Here’s my top 5 quotes from the season — in order. I’ve provided a brief lead-in to all of the soundbites, with links along the way for additional context.
#5: Kaevon Merriweather hypes up Cooper DeJean.
Iowa had just beat Wisconsin. His teammate, CB Cooper DeJean had a monster game that included a pick-six. Kaevon’s method of describing DeJean’s performance was nothing short of stylish. A poetic tangent, bolstered by Iowa’s All-American’s safety’s fashion choice.
“What doesn’t Coop do well?” Merriweather said, sporting gold sunglasses. “You saw him on the punt return — athlete. Corner — athlete. Cash — athlete. Y’all didn’t even get to see him play safety yet in fall camp — athlete. When you just have an athlete who’s as talented — I’m going to gas you up a little bit Coop.”
#4: Jack Campbell’s message.
Speaking of athletes, and getting people gassed up, my next quote comes from newly named consensus All-American Jack Campbell. When Captain Jack wasn’t tackling running backs in the hole, he was tackling criticism on Tuesday media availability.
After Iowa’s 54-10 loss to Ohio State, and his Hawkeyes falling to 3-4, some wondered if Iowa was slowly but surely tapping out on the season. Iowa’s permanent team captain had a message to anybody doubting Iowa’s commitment to winning.
Warning: You may have a spontaneous desire to run through a brick wall.
“When outsiders say like, ‘Why not just give up on the season?’ — no offense to them, but I feel like that might be why you’re an outsider,” Campbell said. “You’ve just got to have the right mindset to be able to do this at a high level. And I’m not saying everyone is built for this and if you don’t play football you’re lazy or anything like that. I feel like it’s applicable to anything you do in life. If you’re just going to give up when stuff gets harder, I just feel like that’s not the right way to look at things.”
#3: That’s football.
Going back to that 54-10 loss to Ohio State, let’s take a trip back to Columbus for head coach Kirk Ferentz’ press conference after the game. The question: How does he explain to his defense why the team is 3-4 despite them playing at such a high level. His response? A remark that previously got him in trouble with Iowa AD Gary Barta.
“That’s football,” Ferentz said. “And I got in trouble for saying that — what year was that? Let me retract that statement. But, that’s how football can play out sometimes. and we’ve got a long history at our school going back to the ’80s and we’ve been through all kinds of years where you’re really strong in one area and not so strong in another area.”
#3 (part 2): That’s football (again).
That’s football? I guess so. Nonetheless, Ferentz retracted his statement and offered a rewording. Let’s fast forward to Ferentz’s weekly presser the following Tuesday. The question? A reporter mentioned how receiver Arland Bruce IV felt the offense was letting the defense down. How does Iowa’s leader keep the team motivated?
“That’s football,” Ferentz said. “I know I said that Saturday too, right? So I’ll qualify that again just so I don’t get in trouble. Football’s a very dynamic thing. You just never know how a game’s going to shake out.”
#2: What’s the upside?
In case you haven’t had enough Ferentz fever, here’s Kirk’s son and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz during the team’s bye week. He fielded questions about his unit, the worst offense in college football. He was asked what the downside would be of starting backup quarterback Alex Padilla. Ferentz’s initial response was a question of his own.
“What would be the upside?”
#1: Petras’ apathy.
Coming in at #1, I asked Spencer Petras after Week 2’s loss to Iowa State how he manages all of the noise surrounding his play. He told me he doesn’t use social media during the season, which makes it much easier.
“I’m sure I know what’s going on out there and I don’t give a [expletive],” Petras said. “Pardon me, my focus is on my own game — the game of football. It becomes real easy when you know what’s going on out there.”