It's become legendary in Iowa. This summer, Sports Illustrated college football writer Stewart Mandel named coach Kirk Ferentz of Iowa one of the five worst coaches in the nation.
Mandel wrote: The 2009 Orange Bowl proved an aberration in Ferentz's otherwise unimpressive recent tenure. Take away that one 11-2 season and the Hawkeyes are 47-41 since 2005 under their $3.6 million-per-year coach.
So Dr. Brent Feller of Cedar Rapids, a major donor to Hawkeye athletics who can usually be spotted in the front row at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for Iowa home games, decided to poke Mandel recently, and the writer included it in his mailbag column today. Here is the exchange:
Feller: Any other time you would like to put Kirk Ferentz on a list of worst anything, feel free. This goes to show you how ridiculous and clueless national writers can be. Ferentz once again showed he is one of the BEST college football coaches in the country and certainly the best man in the industry. Thanks, Stewart.
Mandel: Ferentz definitely engineered a nice turnaround this season, going from 4-8 to 8-4, and made me look dumb for including him alongside Lane Kiffin and Charlie Weis in last summer's worst coaches list. But my gosh, you will never see a fan base crow over a coach's 8-4 campaign the way Hawkeyes fans have in my Twitter mentions and inbox since last Friday. I don't know whether to admire their loyalty or ridicule their incredibly low expectations.
There were four other emails Mandel included from people writing him about Iowa and Ferentz. Here's one:
I wanted to apologize for the tweets I sent to you this past Friday regarding Iowa and an apology that I thought you "owed" Iowa fans. While I disagree with your column prior to the season, the tweets I sent your way after Iowa's win on Friday were rude and not indicative of how a person, an Iowan, or a Hawkeyes fan should act, or in this case, write. Thus, my apologies for acting/writing in that manner.
-- Andrew M Wilcox, Leawood, Kan.
OK, OK. How can I be mean to people this nice?
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You win, Iowans. Drinks on me come New Year's. Figuratively, of course, since I'll be in Pasadena and you'll be in Tampa.
My take: When is someone from Iowa going to go to bat for Kansas Coach Charlie Weis?