Editorial: Iowa’s support of coach is a lesson

Published 9:53 am Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the wake of Tom Osborne leaving the helm of Nebraska football, the university cycled through coaches like Lady Gaga cycles through outfits.

The same thing happens at schools where legendary coaches leave. Alabama did the same after Paul “Bear” Bryant retired. Notre Dame has done that ever since their program fell from its powerhouse status.

All the fans and powerful alumni want their Romes rebuilt in a day.

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They should take a lesson from the University of Iowa. Support your coach.

Kirk Ferentz came to coach the Hawkeyes in 1999 after being an offensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens. To many fans, he seemed to be the second choice. They wanted Bob Stoops, who went to Oklahoma.

The Hawks went 1-10 in Ferentz’s first year, winning no Big Ten games. By the third year, many fans wanted Ferentz out, but the team posted a 7-5 record, winning the Alamo Bowl. Plus, the insitution’s leaders backed the guy.

Iowa is a tough place to recruit from. The state has fewer people than the Twin Cities metro area. There is no major metropolitan market from which to glean kids on a regular basis — like how Michigan does with Detroit.

Coaches at Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa attract kids from wherever they can — California, Chicago, Florida, Iowa, St. Louis. They steal recruits from other teams’ backyards and offer the rather safe campuses parents favor.

Football fans know how the story goes with Ferentz. He coached the Hawks to a victory in the Orange Bowl last season. The team had an 11-2 record and remained undefeated deep into the season, almost something out of a storybook.

It was his 11th season as coach. He now is the longest-tenured coach in the 11-member Big Ten Conference.

His team is back this year, with a 2-0 record so far and in the top 10 of the AP rankings.

The impatient fans, alumni and officials at schools in NCAA football could learn a thing or two from Iowa. The more colleges change head coaches, the more they are stuck in rebuilding mode.

Let a coach build and it will yield result.