College football coaches like Kirk Ferentz go to bed each night thinking about not only their own children but the 120 or so that are a part of their football family.
FRYday, Sept. 3, 2010
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IOWA CITY, Iowa - Some random thoughts for a rather chilly - given the date on the calendar - Friday in the Heartland...
Kirk Ferentz talked Tuesday in his weekly media conference about the reality of mopeds, college campuses and the chance of personal injury.
"I have been worried for 11 years on a couple fronts. Very few of them wear helmets. That is number one. And, secondly, they are just not protected when they are on those, even on a motorcycle. You worry about it, but I understand it, too," Kirk told the group assembled for the first of his 12 regular season Tuesday visits.
"Anyone who has ever worked on a (college) campus (knows) that it's a nightmare to park. That is why they are popular with the players. They can park them easier . We encourage them to be careful and to wear helmets."
I agree (they don't wear helmets). I agree (parking is a nightmare). And I agree again (they don't wear helmets).
As the parent of a UI freshman who also goes to and fro on something less powerful than a motorcycle but with more giddy-up than a 10-speed, I wish he'd let go of the concern to make a fashion statement and instead grab firm the concept of personal safety. But, alas...
Saturday is the National Varsity Club's annual Varsity Club Day, an event that this year will bring members of the 1960 and 1985 Big Ten Conference championship football teams back to campus and to the playing field inside Kinnick and, of course, the public introduction of the Class of 2010 inductees into the UI Athletics Hall of Fame. And, by the way, what a class it is. The football teams are back for their 50th and 25th anniversary reunions, respectively, and will be on the field during pre-game. The Hall of Fame class will take center stage at halftime. I encourage you to adjust your schedules to be in your seats for these special presentations.
Not to beat a dead horse, but the Koeppel-hit-while-riding- his-motorcycle incident reminded me of another reality that is unique - in terms of quantity - in the world of college athletics to the head coach of the football program: He goes to bed each night worrying about not just his own children, but roughly another 120 or so additional young men who, at the end of each work day, are his to worry about. Sure, some - the cynics, mostly - would argue that the coach's primary concern is how an accident might impact game day. I would argue that while that reality is somewhere on the mind of the coach, it rests several rows on the bus behind his primary concern: The health and well-being of a person who he invited into his football family.
It's really not all that surprising that -- as Kirk revealed on Tuesday - as many as four true freshmen could see the playing field this fall. Bigger, stronger, faster... Today's talented student-athletes are all that and more at an age earlier than ever before. Again, the aforementioned son said the other day that he was pretty sure C.J. Fiedorowicz, the Hawkeyes' talented rookie tight end, was in one of his classes. Oh, yeah. He also said C.J. - one of the quartet of rookies singled out by Ferentz earlier this week - was big, really big. Hmmm....6-foot-7, 250 pounds and growing under the tutelage of Chris Doyle. Yep. That certainly qualifies as "big" and, as Kirk noted earlier in the week, talented, very talented.
I need to take a moment to compliment two groups of staff in the UI Athletics Department. First, members of the media relations and new media unit of the department have been working out of the fourth level of the Paul W. Brechler Press Box for almost three months now. They were among the first staff to be moved out of Carver-Hawkeye Arena as a result of the multi-million dollar renovation that is currently moving along very nicely in the home of Iowa's men's and women's basketball, volleyball and wrestling teams. The staff of the Athletics Ticket Office were also among the early "casualties" of the project. As you might guess, in each case, it hasn't been easy to do the important work all of these staff need to do in less than ideal circumstances, but they've mustered on and, as my good friend Bob Brooks would say with a grin, are deserving of a "tip of the fedora."
Saturday is also the National Varsity Club's annual Varsity Club Day, an event that this year will bring members of the 1960 and 1985 Big Ten Conference championship football teams back to campus and to the playing field inside Kinnick and, of course, the public introduction of the Class of 2010 inductees into the UI Athletics Hall of Fame. And, by the way, what a class it is. The football teams are back for their 50th and 25th anniversary reunions, respectively, and will be on the field during pre-game. The Hall of Fame class will take center stage at halftime. I encourage you to adjust your schedules to be in your seats for these special presentations.
The second group is the members of the staff who work with Jess Rickertsen, the director of the premium seating and club spaces at the press box, and others who will disassemble the work space used by the media relations and new media staff on Friday afternoon of a football game week and reassemble it in the hours after the press box is closed for business Saturday night and, in the case of the Penn State game, early Sunday morning. Again, a great effort.
Saturday is also "Be Bold, Wear Gold" day at Kinnick...so, if you're heading to Kinnick, grab something that shows your support for the Hawkeyes UNLESS you are a UI student. If you're among the 10,500 or so of those who snapped up every student season ticket available for the 2010 home schedule, black is your color each and every game day. I tend to look at it this way: The Hawkeyes are your team, your peers. It only makes sense that you share that bond that is exclusively yours by wearing the same color in Kinnick as the guys doing what they love on the field.
And, what the heck, if your plans don't include a trip to Kinnick and instead you plan to watch the game live on the Big Ten Network, go ahead and wear something gold anyway!
Speaking of BTN, my how things change. Three short years ago the idea of 24-7-365 Big Ten Conference television programming was snickered at by many. This summer, a day didn't pass when someone was lauding BTN or suggesting that another conference follow suit. Heck of a deal.
And, in the spirit of saving the best for last, fans of the Hawkeyes making their way to Iowa City on today - or live nearby - should take note of two very special events scheduled on the eve of this year's season opener. At 9 a.m. on Friday inside the Krause Family Plaza at historic Kinnick Stadium, the UI will officially rename Stadium Drive, Evashevski Drive in honor of Forest Evashevski, the UI's legendary head football coach. The roster of speakers includes a UI President Sally Mason, UI Director of Athletics Gary Barta, UI Head Football Coach Kirk Ferentz, former Hawkeye Jim Gibbons - he played for Evy - and the Evashevki's son, John. It should be a great event.
Then, beginning at 10 a.m. and well into the evening, the City of Coralville will stage the second annual "FRYfest." If you're looking for something black and gold, you'll find it at the world's largest tailgate party and tradeshow. If you want to shake a leg, create a team and help set a world record for hokey-pokey-ing. And, if you're a 40, 50 or 60-something that still likes to rock `n roll, pull up a chair and enjoy the band, "Three Dog Night" under the stars. Kudos to Josh and the gang at the Iowa City Coralville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau for FRYfest and all that they do in support of the UI and the Iowa Hawkeyes.
P.S. - On behalf of everyone involved in successfully staging home football games at the University of Iowa for the enjoyment of fans of the Hawkeyes young and old, please give some strong consideration to "Thinking Before You Begin Drinking" on Saturday. The "Think" effort isn't about prohibition. It's about personal responsibility and, where necessary, personal accountability. Heck of a deal.
Random Thoughts is an exclusive feature of Hawk Talk Daily, the daily e-newsletter of the UI Athelics Department, written by Rick Klatt, the UI Athletic Department's associate athletics director for external affairs.