July 24, 2013
CHICAGO -- Coming off a four-win season and being the final coach to take the podium at the 2013 Big Ten Media Day, University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz wasn't surprised when he wasn't the event's center of attention.
"I was surprised anybody was still left," Ferentz joked outside the Main Ballroom of the Hilton Chicago. "I figured we'd get two questions, and we're out. Really nobody cares right now, do they? (Pause) I mean other than you (Iowa media)... you still care."
Ferentz called last season's four-win campaign disappointing, but he is excited for 2013, and the team is motivated to move on.
"We encouraged players to turn the page and wanted to get them looking forward and then go back to work, and that's pretty much what we've done," he said. "I am enthused about the way the players have handled each step along the way and am eager to get on the field in a couple of weeks.
"We've been down this road before. You have three young guys and you'd expect them to look a little bit different than they were in spring practice. We'll take whatever time necessary to make a determination, whether it's three guys competing or if it gets down to a two-man race. Selfishly, the sooner the better, but in fairness to the three guys involved, we have to let it run its course."
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz on the three-man quarterback battle
"Anytime you start a new season, regardless of what the last season may have brought, you should be motivated, because if you play in a tough conference, like we do, it's going to be tough week-in-and-week-out, and I'd say that about our four non-league games."
Ferentz fielded eight questions during his formal media session on topics ranging from the conference's move to a nine-game schedule in 2014, and the "firmly locked in" rivalry with Iowa State, to his thoughts on the new targeting rules, which can immediately eject players for illegal hits.
"They're bang-bang, flagrant fouls to anybody in the stands," said Ferentz. "Anybody can recognize that they need to be dealt with. I don't think things have changed a lot. Player safety is on everyone's mind, it was 30-35 years ago (as well).
"I have seen some hits on NFL tapes and college hits, and there is no question that ejection is appropriate. If it's a close call, it can really impact a game taking a player out."
Ferentz said not much has changed since spring practices concerning the quarterback battle between sophomore Jake Rudock, junior Cody Sokol, and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard, and reiterated the position will be won in fall camp.
"We've been down this road before," said Ferentz. "You have three young guys and you'd expect them to look a little bit different than they were in spring practice.
"We'll take whatever time necessary to make a determination, whether it's three guys competing or if it gets down to a two-man race. Selfishly, the sooner the better, but in fairness to the three guys involved, we have to let it run its course."
"Outside of the two appendicitis attacks, we are looking pretty good," said Ferentz. "We have had some soft tissue things, but we expect everybody to be ready to go."
Ferentz said it was hard not to catch wind of Stewart Mandel's controversial column in Sports Illustrated, where he named the Iowa coach as one of the "five worst coaches" in college football.
"If you lived in Iowa, you couldn't help but see it," he said. "You don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar that if your team wins the Orange Bowl and is No. 7 in the country, they're going to think you're a good coach, and if you go 4-8, you're not so good. It comes with the territory.
"I figured out when I was a little kid that it's more fun when you win than when you lose."
Single-game tickets for all seven Hawkeye home contests inside Kinnick Stadium are available on hawkeyesports.com. Iowa opens the season Aug. 31, hosting Northern Illinois at 2:30 p.m. (CT).