Kirk Ferentz is beginning his 14th year as head football coach at the University of Iowa. His tenure as Iowa’s head football coach trails only Hayden Fry, who led the Hawkeyes for 20 seasons (1979-98). Ferentz is the dean of Big Ten Conference football coaches. He is tied for third in coaching longevity among BCS schools and tied for fifth among all Division I head coaches.
Following the 2009 campaign Ferentz was named Dave McClain Big Ten Coach of the Year for the third time in eight years. He joins the select company of Hayden Fry, Joe Paterno and Bo Schembechler in winning the prestigious award at least three times. He previously was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2002 and 2004. He was also named national Coach of the Year by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation in 2002. Ferentz was named a 2009 Regional Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association as well. The 2011 Insight Bowl was Ferentz’ 10th bowl appearance at Iowa. His six bowl victories put him in a tie for third all-time among Big Ten coaches.
Under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have put together the greatest run in school history. The Hawkeyes won 11 games in 2002 and 2009 and 10 games in 2003 and 2004. With a 7-5 record in 2005, Iowa posted a four- year mark (2002-05) of 38-12, the best in school history. And, Iowa’s 25 Big Ten wins were the most ever by a Hawkeye team in a four-year span. No other Big Ten team won more league games over that four-year period. He is 96-66 (.593) in his 13 years as Iowa’s head coach.
Ferentz and his staff have led the Hawkeyes to bowl eligible status in each of the last 11 seasons. The Hawkeyes appeared in six straight bowl games between 2001 and 2006, the second longest bowl streak in school history (Iowa appeared in eight straight bowl games from 1981-88). Iowa’s streak under Ferentz included a string of four straight January bowls from 2002-05. Iowa was just one of eight schools in the nation to appear in six January bowl games between 2002-09.
Iowa posted a 7-6 mark in 2011, including a 4-4 record in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes placed in the Big Ten’s first division for the 10th time in 11 seasons. Wide receiver Marvin McNutt, Jr., was named the league’s top receiver. McNutt and offensive lineman Riley Reiff were unanimous first-team all-Big Ten selections. Defensive back Shaun Prater made the first team, as selected by league coaches. McNutt set both single season and career receiving records, while quarterback James Vandenberg passed for over 3,000 yards.
The 2010 Hawkeyes were ranked virtually the entire season. The Hawkeyes capped the season on a high note with a 27-24 win over 12th-ranked Missouri in the Insight Bowl. The win gave the Hawkeyes an 8-5 season record. Iowa finished 4-4 in league play and in a tie for fourth. Ferentz also gained his 100th career victory in Iowa’s win at Indiana.
Four 2010 Hawkeyes were named to the first all-Big Ten team while seven others were named to a second all-Big Ten team. Defensive end Adrian Clayborn was a finalist for the Lombardi and Ted Hendricks awards, punter Ryan Donahue a finalist for the Ray Guy Punter of the Year Award and quarterback Ricky Stanzi was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Senior Quarterback of the Year Award. Six Hawkeyes were selected in the 2011 NFL draft.
Iowa has won 23 of its last 28 games in Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes are 55-12 (.821) at home since the start of the 2002 season. That mark includes a school-record 22-game winning streak (2002-05), which ended with an overtime loss. Iowa sold out 36 straight home games during that time and has sold out 56 of its last 58 games.
The 2009 Hawkeyes (11-2) won their first nine games (a school record) while ranking as high as fourth in the BCS rankings. The loss of starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi in the 10th game was a key factor in Iowa losing two straight games before winning its regular season finale and the FedEx Orange Bowl. Iowa finished in a tie for second (6-2) in the Big Ten, falling to Ohio State on the road in overtime in what was, essentially, the Big Ten title game. It marked Iowa’s second straight runner-up finish in the league standings. The Hawkeyes earned a share of the Big Ten title in both 2002 and 2004.
Seven Hawkeyes earned first team all-Big Ten honors in 2009, including OL Bryan Bulaga, who was named league Offensive Lineman of the Year. Six Hawkeyes were selected in the 2010 NFL draft.
The 2008 Hawkeyes caught fire in the second half of the season by winning six of their final seven games. Iowa finished the season with a 9-4 record (5-3 in the Big Ten), with the losses coming by a total of 12 points. A win over previously undefeated and third-ranked Penn State (24-23) was the biggest highlight of the successful stretch run. The icing on the cake was a convincing 31-10 win over South Carolina in the 2009 Outback Bowl at Tampa, Fla. Iowa finished 20th in both the final AP and coaches polls.
Four Hawkeyes made the 2008 first all-Big Ten team, with two gaining considerable individual honors. Running back Shonn Greene won the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back. He was also the winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Silver Football, emblematic of the league’s most valuable player. He was named the Big Ten’s offensive Player of the Year by both league coaches and media. Greene was also the MVP of the Outback Bowl. Defensive tackle Mitch King was named the league’s defensive Lineman of the Year while earning all-league first team honors for the second straight year.
Iowa’s 6-6 record in 2007 included a 4-4 mark in Big Ten play. Iowa climbed as high as 12th in the 2006 polls while winning five of its first six games. Injuries and inopportune mistakes played a role as the Hawkeyes struggled for consistency during the second half of the season. Still, a 24-21 loss to 15th-ranked Wisconsin and a two-point loss to 16th-ranked Texas in the Alamo Bowl showed Iowa’s toughness.
Ferentz led the Hawkeyes to a third place Big Ten finish in 2005. An overtime loss to Michigan and a last- minute, one point loss at Northwestern is all that kept the Hawkeyes out of contention for a third Big Ten title in four years.
Ferentz led the 2004 Hawkeyes to their second Big Ten title in three years and earned the league’s Coach of the Year honors for the second time. Iowa’s 10-2 record (7-1 in the Big Ten) was expected by very few. A victory in the 2005 Capital One Bowl (30-25 over defending national champion LSU) capped off a third straight appearance in a January bowl game.
Iowa put the topping on the 2003 and 2004 seasons by beating favored SEC teams in New Year’s Day bowl games. The Hawkeyes ended the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons with an eighth place ranking in the final polls. On a national scale, Iowa’s record over that three year span ranked eighth best in the nation.
The 2003 Hawkeyes were the only Big Ten team to beat league champion Michigan (30-27). Five Iowa players were named to the 2003 first all-Big Ten team and two were named first team all-America. Offensive lineman Robert Gallery was named winner of the 2003 Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation’s top collegiate interior lineman. Iowa put the topping on the 2003 season by beating a favored Florida team (37-17) in the Outback Bowl, at Tampa, Fla., on New Year’s Day.
The 2002 team was probably the most decorated in Iowa football history.
Ferentz was named 2002 Associated Press and The Walter Camp Football Foundation’s Coach of the Year
in college football. He was also named Big Ten Coach of the Year in a season that saw his team climb as high as third in the national rankings.
Ferentz led the 2002 Hawkeyes to their first Big Ten title since 1990 and the most wins (11) in school history. Iowa posted impressive road wins at Penn State and Michigan on its way to the school’s first undefeated Big Ten campaign since 1922. The win over Michigan was the most convincing by a Wolverine opponent, in Ann Arbor, since 1967. The Hawkeyes also played in the BCS’s FedEx Orange Bowl for the first time, having their nine-game winning streak snapped by Southern California. Winning three of its final four games in 2001, Iowa earned an invitation to the Sylvania Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, TX, where the Hawkeyes defeated Texas Tech 19-16 in their first bowl appearance of the Ferentz era.
The foundation of Kirk’s program at Iowa was established in his first two seasons and began to pay dividends late in the 2000 season when the Hawkeyes won in double overtime at Penn State. Iowa returned home the following week to post a 27-17 win over Big Ten co-champion Northwestern, ranked 12th in the nation at the time. That late-season success carried over into the winning campaign of 2001.
Ferentz was named Iowa’s 25th head football coach on December 2, 1998. He replaced Fry, who retired after 20 seasons with the Hawkeyes. At Iowa, Ferentz has an overall record of 96-66, including a 92-47 mark over the last 11 seasons. He has posted a 57-47 record in Big Ten play. His career record is 108-87 in 16 years as a collegiate head coach. Ferentz is one of just seven Big Ten coaches ever to guide a team to 10 wins or more in three straight seasons.
And while Ferentz has guided the Iowa program to great success on the field, the Hawkeyes have also made their mark in the classroom. In the most recent release on academic standings (October, 2011), Iowa’s football team compiled a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 83, best in the programs history and 14 points above the national average. Iowa was one of just nine bowl teams following the 2011 season to score 80 percent or better on the NCAA’s “real-time” measurement of academic success.
In 2005, Iowa tied Southern Cal and Virginia Tech with the best football student-athlete graduation rate (58%) among all Division I teams earning a bowl invitation. Among the teams which participated in bowl games following the 2002, 2003 and 2004 seasons, only Iowa and Southern Cal ranked in the top five in graduation rates in each of the three seasons.
Along with Ferentz earning conference and national Coach of the Year recognition, members of his staff have also been well recognized. Norm Parker, Iowa’s defensive coordinator the last 13 seasons, was named 2011 Assistant Coach of the Year by the Football Coaches Association of America. He was also a finalist for the 2004 and 2005 Frank Broyles Award, which also recognizes the top Division I assistant coach in the nation. Parker retired following the 2011 season. Lester Erb, who has coached running backs, wide receivers and special teams at Iowa, was named by Rivals.com as one of the top 25 recruiters in both 2011 and 2005. Ron Aiken, Iowa’s defensive line coach through the 2006 season, was the American Football Coaches Association Division I Assistant Coach of the Year in 2002. Aiken is now on the coaching staff of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
Under Ferentz and his staff, Hawkeye players have gathered all-Big Ten and national recognition at a record pace. Five Hawkeye players have earned national Player of the Year honors at their position. Those include offensive lineman Robert Gallery (Outland Trophy), place kicker Nate Kaeding (Lou Groza Award), quarterback Brad Banks (Davey O’Brien Award and AP Player of the Year), tight end Dallas Clark (John Mackey Award) and running back Shonn Greene (Doak Walker Award). Banks was also the runner-up in the 2002 Heisman Trophy voting.
Banks (2002) and Greene (2008) were both named Big Ten Conference Player of the Year and conference MVP. Guard Eric Steinbach (2002), Gallery (2003), King (2008) and Bulaga (2009) were all winners of the Big Ten Lineman of the Year award.
Another part of Iowa’s success under Ferentz is reflected in the annual NFL draft. Six Hawkeyes were drafted in both the 2010 and 2011 NFL drafts. The 12 Hawkeye selections over the past two seasons rank first in the Big Ten Conference and third best nationally.
DL Adrian Clayborn was selected in the first round (20th selection, Tampa Bay) of the 2011 draft and OL Bryan Bulaga (23rd selection, Green Bay) was a first round pick in 2010. Bulaga was a starter for the Packers in the 2011 Super Bowl.
Additional selections in the 2011 draft included DL Christian Ballard (Minnesota) in the fourth round. Fifth round selections included QB Ricky Stanzi (Kansas City), OL Julian Vandervelde (Philadelphia) and DL Karl Klug (Tennessee). DB Tyler Sash was selected by the New York Giants in the sixth round.
In 2010, LB Pat Angerer (Indianapolis) was taken in the second round, while DB Amari Spievey (Detroit) and TE Tony Moeaki (Kansas City) were third round selections. LB A.J. Edds (Miami) was taken in the fourth round and OL Kyle Calloway (Buffalo) was a sixth round selection.
RB Shonn Greene (New York Jets) and DB Bradley Fletcher (St. Louis Rams) were the first two players selected, respectively, in the third round of the 2009 NFL draft. OL Seth Olsen (Denver) was a fourth round selection and TE Brandon Myers (Oakland) was selected in the sixth round.
In the 2008 NFL draft, DB Charles Godfrey was a third round selection of the Carolina Panthers, while DE Ken Iwebema was a fourth round selection (Arizona) and LB Mike Humpal was selected in the sixth round (Pittsburgh).
LB Chad Greenway was a first round pick in the 2006 draft, with fellow linebacker Abdul Hodge being selected in the third round. In the 2007 draft, OL Marshal Yanda (third round, Baltimore), TE Scott Chandler (fourth, San Diego) and OL Mike Elgin (seventh, New England) were selected.
In the 2005 NFL draft, DE Matt Roth and DT Jonathan Babineaux were second round selections and DB Sean Considine was taken in the fourth round. All three were still active in the NFL in 2011.
Robert Gallery was the second selection in the 2004 NFL draft, while Bob Sanders was selected in the second round as the first pick of the Indianapolis Colts. Nate Kaeding, a third round selection of the San Diego Chargers, became the first kicker since 2000 (and just the sixth ever) to be selected on the first day of the draft.
Overall, 39 players have been drafted in the past nine years, with five first round selections and nine players being selected among the top 50 picks. In addition, nine signed free agent contracts immediately following the 2004 draft, six signed prior to the 2011 season, five signed NFL free agent contracts the day after the 2003 and 2007 drafts, three in 2005 and 2008 and four following the 2006 and 2009 drafts.
Over the past 10 years, 90 of 100 (90 percent) of Iowa’s senior starters under Coach Ferentz were selected in the NFL draft or signed to an NFL free agent contract. Six Hawkeyes were selected in the most recent NFL draft, while six additional seniors signed free agent contract immediately after the collective bargaining agreement was reached. Iowa ranks among Big Ten leaders in number of players drafted (42)
over the past 10 years.
Among the former Hawkeyes who have gone on to play in the NFL, Kaeding, Sanders, TE Dallas Clark (Indianapolis) and DL Aaron Kampman (Green Bay) have earned all-Pro recognition. Sanders was named by the Associated Press as the 2007 NFL defensive Player of the Year. Greenway and Yanda, who were both drafted in 2006, participated in the Pro Bowl following the 2011 NFL season.
Ferentz joined the Iowa staff after serving as assistant head coach and offensive line coach of the Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League. He had been a part of the Baltimore (Cleveland Browns prior to the move) organization for six years.
Ferentz was a member of Hayden Fry’s Iowa staff for nine years as offensive line coach (1981-89). Iowa appeared in eight bowl games during the time Ferentz was an Iowa assistant. A pair of Rose Bowls (1982 & 1986), two Holiday Bowl appearances (1986-87) and a pair of Peach Bowl visits (1982 & 1988), along with appearances in the Gator (1983) and Freedom (1984) bowls, highlighted his previous Iowa stay. Iowa’s record in those nine years was 73-33-4 and included two 10-win and two nine-win seasons.
Offensive lines under the direction of Ferentz anchored four of Iowa’s highest scoring offenses. Five of Iowa’s top offensive teams, in terms of yards gained per game, were operating behind Ferentz coached offensive lines. And, seven of Iowa’s top 10 passing teams of all time occurred during the Ferentz years of the 1980’s.
Kirk’s coaching career began as a student assistant (1977) at his alma mater, Connecticut. The next two years (1978-79) were spent at Worcester Academy, where Kirk also taught English literature. He served as a graduate assistant offensive line coach at Pittsburgh during the 1980 season. That Pittsburgh team (coached by Jackie Sherrill) finished with an 11-1 record and a number two national ranking.
He joined Fry’s staff in 1981 and the Hawkeyes won their first conference title and Rose Bowl berth in over 20 years. A string of 19 straight non-winning seasons came to an end in 1981. Ferentz continued as Iowa’s line coach thru the 1989 season.
Eleven Hawkeyes, coached by Ferentz (the assistant), went on to play in the National Football League. They were John Alt, Rob Baxley, Dave Croston, Scott Davis, Mike Devlin, Chris Gambol, Mike Haight, Ron Hallstrom, Joel Hilgenberg, Bob Kratch and Brett Miller. Alt, Haight and Hallstrom were first round picks in the NFL draft and five of his players were first team all-Big Ten.
He was named head coach of the Maine Bears in 1990 and held that position for three years before being hired by Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns.
Kirk served as the honorary chair of the University of Iowa’s 1999-00 United Way campaign and he serves on the National Advisory Board of the Bethesda Family Services Foundation. Kirk and his wife, Mary, have given two major financial gifts to the University of Iowa. The most recent was a $400,000 gift to the University’s College of Liberal Arts and University Children’s Hospital. The Ferentz’ also made a $100,000 gift to the University’s College of Liberal Arts in 2003.
Kirk and Mary are very enthusiastic supporters of the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. From serving as advocates for the hospital across the state; to hosting and speaking at events to raise support for UI Children’s Hospital; to their personal generosity in establishing the “Ferentz Family Pediatric Research and Education Endowment Fund” in 2007. In addition, the Iowa Women’s Football Academy has pledged $1 million over the next five years to the University of Iowa’s new Children’s Hospital.
Ferentz was born August 1, 1955, in Royal Oak, MI. He attended Upper St. Clair High School in Pittsburgh. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in English Education. He was a football captain and an academic all-Yankee Conference linebacker at UConn.
Kirk received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut in May, 2009. He was inducted into the Upper St. Clair High School Hall of Fame in September, 2002 and the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in May, 2003.
Kirk and his wife, Mary, have five children. They are Brian (28), Kelly (26), Joanne (24), James (22) and Steven (17). Brian was a three-year letterman (2003-05) with the Hawkeye football team and is now tight ends coach with the New England Patriots. James is in his fourth year in the Iowa program. Joanne earned her bachelor’s degree from Iowa in 2010 and Kelly earned her JD and MHA degrees from Iowa in 2010 and 2011.