Iowa, OU and some history

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IOWA CITY -- Hawkeyes fandom thought it was getting Bob Stoops in 1998.

Hayden Fry retired and all eyes Iowa turned to Florida, where Stoops, a former all-Big Ten safety for the Hawkeyes, served as defensive coordinator for Steve Spurrier and the Gators.

Then, there was a search committee. Oklahoma called. And soon thereafter, Stoops was a Sooner. In the meantime, then-athletics director Bob Bowlsby introduced Kirk Ferentz as the Hawkeyes new head coach.

Iowa fandom went from Stoops mania to paging through old media guides for a Ferentz refresher. Of course, he was offensive line coach under Fry from 1981-89 before moving on to head coach at Maine and then O-line coach with Cleveland/Baltimore in the NFL.

"When I went to Cleveland, I think I was seventh choice or maybe eighth," Ferentz said Sunday night. "I'm not sure if I was eighth on this list, but it really doesn't matter. I've never worried about how I got anywhere."

This is a storyline for the 2011 Insight Bowl.

The Hawkeyes (7-5) will head to their second consecutive Insight Bowl to face No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3). Two teams with different trajectories through the 2011 season, but they'll end up at Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 30, kicking off 9 p.m. Iowa time on ESPN.

Iowa was never ranked this season and never put together more than two wins at a time. Oklahoma began the season No. 1 in the coaches and Associated Press polls. OU finished with losses in three of its final five games, including a 44-10 loss last Saturday to Oklahoma State.

It will be just the second meeting between the two programs. The first came in 1979, when Iowa traveled to Norman. That season, Stoops started at safety for the Hawkeyes, who hung in before falling, 21-6.

"We walk around all Saturday in the fall yelling, 'Go Hawks!' at home," Stoops said last year. Stoops' wife, Carol, also went to Iowa, and his brothers, Mike and Mark, played there, too.

Bob Stoops wore an Iowa sweatshirt when he attended Iowa's 27-24 victory over Missouri in last year's Insight Bowl. He was in town because the Sooners were preparing to face UConn, Ferentz's alma mater, in the Fiesta Bowl.

So, yes, in '98, after Hayden, Stoops, who's father was buried in an Iowa jersey, seemed like a natural fit.

"I know Bob was a candidate who was interviewed and for obvious reasons," Ferentz said. "He's an outstanding coach, has a great resume and was a graduate of the school. That made perfect sense, and had that worked out, that would've been great thing for Iowa.

"No question, Bob would've done a great job here and I'd still be in the NFL. It wasn't like I had to have this job. I wanted the job, I don't mean to downplay it that way, but it wasn't life or death for me. It worked out beautifully for both of us. I think that's the best thing."

Stoops rushed past his dalliance with the Iowa job during a Sunday night interview.

"Well, that's water over the dam," Stoops said. "In the end, I was very fortunate and lucky that I had just also interviewed with Oklahoma. By the time I got out of that interview, Oklahoma had an offer there that I was excited about and to be quite honest I felt, you know, I was at Iowa for 10 years and I loved it. I still love it, some of my dearest friends are from there, but it was like I've been there, done that."

Stoops led the Sooners to a national title after the 2000 season. Ferentz has led the Hawkeyes to two Big Ten co-championships and two Orange Bowl appearances.

"He {Ferentz] was a young coach when I was a player and then as a graduate assistant trying to become a coach, he was very good to me always," Stoops said Sunday night. "I was very close to him and related to him because he was the youngest coach on the staff."

Also Sunday night, Iowa running back Mika'il McCall remains suspended, Ferentz said. The true freshman's status for the bowl game is up in the air. McCall was suspended after the Purdue game for an undisclosed reason.

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