Here's the off-camera portion of the day with Kirk Ferentz.
Juan Castillo was a topic. He was just fired as the Philadelphia Eagles D-coordinator. He, of course, is the father of Iowa cornerback Greg Castillo.
Have you talked to Juan or Greg Castillo? -- I've talked to both. Greg understands his dad's profession. Greg will be fine, but like any son, or for any person, it's hard. At the same time, Juan is one of the best people and best coaches I've been around at any level. The good news is he'll have a long line of suitors when the time comes. It's one of those temporary bumps in the road. Ironically, I finally got to see the Cleveland '95 thing last Thursday night. I would suggest Bill Belichick was a Hall of Fame coach in Cleveland and I don't think he's changed that much. [Belichick was fired in Cleveland before he won three Super Bowls with the Patriots.] Sometimes, it's circumstance and that's part of our profession.
Is it like a coach finishing school [under Belichick]? I've read that he coaches coaches? -- He does or else you're not there. You're being coached or you're encouraged to leave.
In that way, do you come out of there better? You've talked about it as a graduate school for coaches. -- That's how I always looked at it, being in graduate school, not that I would be an expert on that subject because I never went to graduate school. You can't help but learn when you're there.
You mentioned your relationship with Juan Castillo. How would you characterize that before you were in the program? -- I know Juan through my mentor Joe Moore. Juan spent time with Joe and Tom Bresnhan, another guy who's been really good to me throughout my football career. That's the kind of guy Juan is. I mentioned Bill [O'Brien] leaving a full-time coordinator job to go be a gopher. Juan got in his car and drove from Kingsville to Notre Dame to wherever. There was a great piece on HBO about him, where he slept in his car to visit with Andy Reid when Andy got the job up in Green Bay. The guy is all about football and is a tremendous human being. You feel shameful when you meet him he's such a good guy. You're just a peon, but he's such a good guy and such a good coach. My other Juan Castillo story is when I was wherever I was, I worked out four of his guys at Kingsville. He had just gone to the Eagles. I'd been at three other, quote unquote, big-name schools, and I went there and it was the best workout I've witnessed in my six years in the NFL. It was unbelievable. Well coached, unbelievable guys. Everybody can talk a good game, but the proof was in the pudding with those guys. Wow. [Jermane] Mayberry was one of them, who Philly drafted. It's one thing to talk a good game, but I knew this guy knew what he was doing. He paid his dues. He's a tremendous football coach. That's my linkage with Juan. That was back in the '90s.
In the wake of what the passing game is, Keenan has quietly put together six catches in each of the last three weeks. He's quietly putting together a decent season. The passing game isn't where you want it to be, but does it speak to what his talent is? -- I said this before the season, if our seniors aren't playing their best, it's going to be a rough year. Keenan is playing his best. It's the best football he's played since he's been here. All season long, he's doing a good job. That catch he made the other day, it was a beautiful play. We're counting on that from him. For us to have success, we're going to need that. He's certainly delivering. And he's blocking out there doing a great job. The run Weisman had two games ago in front of our bench, that was him blocking down the field. I think he's having fun. I don't want to speak for him, but I think he's really enjoying the game. He'll be part of our evolution offensively, I don't think there's any doubt about that. He'll be right in the center of that. He's already helped us immensely.
When you started to get early verbal commitments, did you anticipate -- yeah, oh yeah (KF) -- more of a chance of de-commits? -- Oh yeah, that's going to come with that territory. It's the same old thing. It's one thing to hold hands and say, 'I like you.' But it's another thing to walk up to that altar and say, 'I love you.' That's recruiting. It's a sign of times. . . . And if someone's dad works at an institution, as you might imagine we suspected this could be a possibility [referencing without directly referencing Indianapolis DE David Kenney's de-commit to Indiana, where his dad works for Kevin Wilson's staff]. Not to get specific about anything.
You've not gone along with kids who've gone to visit other schools. In this day and age, do you have to let that play out a little bit more now? -- I think we'll just handle every circumstance on its individual basis, I think that's the best way to do that.
You have a lot of former high school wrestlers. Do you look for that? -- If a guy's a good wrestler, we've had a lot good experience. Personally, we prefer players who've played other sports, whatever the sport may be. A guy like Micah Hyde . . . So many guys don't have good ball skills anymore because the video games don't really help develop those skills. But Micah Hyde, I'm guessing when he was a kid he'd go out in backyard and shoot baskets or play catch, things like that. I think that's a real positive. Plus, guys are competing, which I know X Box is nitty gritty, but it's not quite the same as competing against real people.
What kind of work ethic comes with wrestlers, because they have to be so dedicated? -- It's a sick sport. I will never understand why anyone wrestles and I've had three kids do it. I admire the fact that they did it. It was great for them. I think it's a sport that really challenges you. It's a hard sport.
Bill O'Brien talked today about testing his players orally and verbally. Do you guys do that? -- Yeah, we check on them. Absolutely.
What do you gain by that? -- You just want to make sure. Everyone can sit in a room and nod. Smarter guys will say 'yes sir' and 'no sir.' That doesn't mean they're getting it. That doesn't mean there's communication going on. It's no different than being in a classroom. You just don't want to give lectures. As good as you think your lectures might be, it doesn't mean people are absorbing what you're trying to espouse. To me, education is a two-way street.
Been going on for years, hasn't it? -- When I left here, coach Fry, every Saturday morning. You'd have to get up and ask a question to everybody and the guys had to have the right answers. I used to give the guys the answers before I polled them. It was right before a game, I didn't want coach Fry blowing a stack.
Here are my notes: Nice words for retiring KCRG sports director John Campbell, ANF game, captains (same as last week), Penn State, Mark Weisman, Damon Bullock and a little more on Michigan State. It ends with mention of G Austin Blythe and CB B.J. Lowery, both of whom will be back for this week's game.
Players dancing before the OTS, Jordan Canzeri, Greg Garmon and what he was asked to do against Michigan State (not fumble) more on Blythe and Lowery.
Players dancing before OT, PSU changes, Matt McGloin, PSU going for it on fourth down, Bill O'Brien, Iowa and PSU undefeated in the Big Ten.
Penn State without Joe Paterno, Greenway and Hitchens leading the world in tackles, Joe Gaglione, Steve Bigach, DL coaching, Jordan Cotton.
Penn State without Joe Paterno, Greenway and Hitchens leading the world in tackles, Joe Gaglione, Steve Bigach, DL coaching, Jordan Cotton.Iowa's O vs. tough Ds, passing game, "scraping along," what you do in practice affects whether or not you see the field, "scraping along" and how Ferentz/Iowa make that work. Or try to make it work.