Stay or go Iowas Ferentz was courted like Campbell


AMES, Iowa (AP) – Kirk Ferentz has been where Matt Campbell is in his career.

Successful college coach in his 40s, sought after by other schools and the NFL.

Ferentz chose to stay in Iowa and became an institution in Iowa City, currently the longest-serving head coach at a school in great college football and one of the most successful in Big Ten history. There were bumps on the way, but Ferentz ’23. Season with Iowa has a chance to become one of its best.

In five seasons at Iowa State, Campbell has turned down opportunities to leave. If this season even comes close to meeting the high expectations of the Cyclones, there will be more suitors trying to lure him out of Ames.

“I know that, the experts sometimes say, ‘Gosh, I can’t believe he didn’t want to go to college or a professional job or whatever.’ It is really difficult for other people to judge what is important for another person in this position in order to make a decision, “said 66-year-old Ferentz on Tuesday.

Campbell, 41, has taken on a program with little track record and taken it to unprecedented heights, showing he’s in no hurry to leave.

If Campbell and the Cyclones host number 10 Iowa (1-0) in 9th place (1-0) in the biggest Cy Hawk rivalry game of all time, all he has to do is look to the opposite sideline to see a college -Football coaches can build a pretty good life for themselves in the state of Iowa.

“You know who you are. They understand their identity. The ability to maintain success over a long period of time, ”Campbell said of the Hawkeyes. “It’s hard to win in college football. To win over a longer period of time and maintain success is a sincere respect factor for any trainer who has the ability to do this and to do so over a long period of time. “

Ferentz had his time as a hot commodity in coaching.

Ferentz was a former NFL assistant before taking over Hayden Fry in Iowa in 1999. The Jacksonville Jaguars called in 2003 and it appeared that every time the Cleveland Browns made a managerial change, Ferentz’s name came up.

Worrying about whether Ferentz would stay was an almost annual occurrence in Iowa City. But the shine can quickly wear off coaches.

Ferentz’s long-term contract and massive buyout turned into a little Big Ten joke in five mediocre seasons from 2010 to 2014. Even Iowa fans were starting to wonder if they were now stuck with the coach they once worried about.

Since then, Iowa has been 54-21 years old, one of the few schools in great college football that accepts patience and stability.

“It’s an example for anyone in college athletics that you don’t have to switch faces and coaches and administrators and (sports directors) every four, five or six years,” said Dan McCarney, the former Iowa player who won the Cyclones trained from 1995 -2006. “There will be ups and downs. Kirk went through this. But look at the incredible track record that Kirk and everyone at the University of Iowa now have. “

The only real pressure Ferentz faced was last year when some former black players criticized him for maintaining a team culture that made it difficult for minorities to adapt. Ferentz’s longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle has been sacked, and he vowed to do so to make changes to a program that may have become a little too rigid of its own.

The State of Iowa hopes to have found its Ferentz in Campbell.

Under Campbell, the Cyclones have competed in a conference championship game for the first time, won a major bowl for the first time, finished first in their league for the first time in more than a century, won straight games against Texas, and beat Oklahoma twice.

Iowa State is 27-19 in the Big 12 under Campbell. To find a better percentage of winning a conference for an Iowa state coach, you would have to go back more than 100 years.

These days, Iowa state fans are worried about who’s after their guy. Speculation and rumors about Campbell have been rampant for the past three years.

Campbell, whose final contract renewal runs until 2028 and pays him $ 4 million a year, has insisted that he is happy with Ames and backed it up with his actions.

“The money he turned down last year and the opportunity he had with the Detroit Lions is a classic example,” said McCarney. “His family loves Ames. His wife loves it. That doesn’t guarantee anything beyond this season. We all know that. “

Ferentz assumes that Campbell doesn’t need his advice, but knows what made him stay in Iowa.

“You decide what is important to you, what you are looking for in your job over the long term, and you make that decision,” he said. “For some guys, the higher the better. Some are more cautious or whatever.

“I’m always amused by people who say, ‘Why wouldn’t he have done that?’ Yeah, whatever. Sometimes these movements don’t always work. “


Iowa City freelance AP writer John Bohnenkamp contributed to this report.


Follow Ralph D. Russo at Listen on


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