Speculation about Kirk Ferentz retiring from coaching has been going on since the Obama Administration, when Iowa inked its longtime head man to an extension through 2025. Even with the caveat that it was “a few years off,” we’ve seen ideas tossed out for who might eventually take the helm in Iowa City once Ferentz finally does hang up his headset.
The joke is on everyone, because Ferentz is going to be coaching at Iowa after the rest of us are dead. His son Brian? Pssh. Maybe one of Ferentz’s nine grandchildren will be up for the job. Or his eventual great-grandchildren. Or maybe Ferentz will just stay on the Iowa sideline forever, Weekend at Bernie’s-ing his way to the 2075 Outback Bowl in his diamond jubilee season. Never mind that Tampa and the rest of Florida will be underwater by then, Ferentz will have those Hawkeyes aqua-punting their way to glory.
Ferentz, it was announced Friday, has signed a contract extension to stay at Iowa through the 2029 season, not that there was any particular urgency to do so, given that he already was signed through, as previously noted, 2025.
Iowa went 10-4 this season, losing the Big Ten title game and the Citrus Bowl, but still finishing in the AP Top 25 for the fourth straight season. The Hawkeyes are 178-110 since Ferentz took over for Hayden Fry in 1999, and have had more Outback Bowl appearances (six) than bowl-free seasons (four) during his tenure.
There’s long been a knock on Bill Belichick’s coaching tree, but maybe the problem is looking at the NFL, and the coaches who worked for him in New England. Back with the 1990s Browns, Belichick’s staff included Nick Saban, Pat Hill (112 wins with 11 bowl appearances at Fresno State), two-time Super Bowl-winning Steelers assistant John Mitchell, and Ferentz, who was the offensive line coach in Cleveland and now is tied to Iowa apparently forever.
Chip Kelly has a new deal at UCLA, extending a contract that was set to expire after next season through 2025 — not bad after leading the Bruins to their first winning season since 2015.
It took four seasons for Kelly to get UCLA back into contention in a conference the program hasn’t won since it was the Pac-10 in 1998 and Bob Toledo was coaching there. Now, the task gets harder with former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley arriving across town at USC and Dan Lanning taking the reins at Oregon after serving as the defensive coordinator for national champion Georgia.
Could it be that the Pac-12 is getting interesting? It’s been so long since UCLA was any good at all, and with the infusion of new coaching talent to go along with conference champ Utah already being a force to be reckoned with, who knows if we’ll see a western representative in the College Football Playoff for the first time since Washington in 2016.
Or, perhaps, all of this means that the Pac-12 teams will be better but just beat up on each other and keep themselves out of the running for the sport’s biggest prize.