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CHICAGO — Maybe Kirk Ferentz’s last contract with Iowa was intended to be a “lifetime” deal. It was signed in 2010 with an annual salary of around $4 million and it ran through the 2019 season, which would put Ferentz at 64 years old.
Including 2016, four seasons remain on that deal and Ferentz looks and feels pretty good. So, it looks as if there will be another lifetime contract.
And this one might really be lifetime this time.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Tuesday at Big Ten media days that there’s nothing new to report on the Ferentz contract front.
He did, however, acknowledge that there are ongoing contract discussions and the discussion are on a contract and not a one-year rollover.
“The goal is, I think for him and for me, is for this to be his last contract, his retirement contract,” Barta said. “We continue to have great conversations.”
Ferentz will begin his 18th season as Iowa’s head football coach with four seasons remaining on a contract. This can be used in recruiting against Iowa and it sounds as if that has started.
Tyler Barnes, Iowa’s director of recruiting, tweeted last weekend “It’s comical when a school tries to negative recruit Iowa by asking a recruit how long HC Ferentz is going to be here! #Stability #IowaEdge”
Iowa’s recruiting is going well, by the way. The Hawkeyes are ranked No. 17 in the country by Rivals.com with 15 commitments for the 2017 class. Ferentz said Tuesday he expects to sign 20 when the signing period begins Feb. 1, 2017.
Asked Tuesday about the prospect of a “lifetime” contract, Ferentz quipped, “I hope it’s a long contract. I hope it’s not two years.”
Ferentz’s agent, Neil Cornrich, was in Iowa City earlier this month. It might’ve been a courtesy visit, but it does sound as if discussions have been ongoing.
“It’s been one of my goals to remain at Iowa,” Ferentz said. “I love coaching there and the university has been great not only to myself, but to my entire family. That would be our goal. I get a little nervous with that ‘R’ word. That’s way down the road, hopefully.”
The ‘R’ word is retirement. Has Ferentz given that any thought?
“Occasionally, but not deeply at this point,” he said. “Whenever that time comes, we’ll deal with it. That’s way down the road, hopefully.”
As far as length of a deal and how it might benefit Iowa assistant coaches, Barta wouldn’t go into further detail.
Junior wide receiver Jonathan Parker suffered a foot injury late last week that might require surgery, Ferentz said. Parker rushed twice last season for minus-10 yards.
Ferentz said the injury might keep him out as long as six to eight weeks.
Earlier this summer, Iowa advertised a “football analyst” position. The position would include scouting opponent tendencies, quality control work and analytics. Austin Showalter, a former offensive line graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes, is listed on the school’s website in the analyst position.
Every school has a philosophy on analysts positions. Take the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Clemson. The Crimson Tide list a staff of 15 analysts compared to two for Clemson.
Iowa is now at one. Don’t expect Ferentz to go nuts on these.
“It’s an interesting phenomenon and some schools are really invested in it, both financially and numbers-wise,” Ferentz said. “Quite frankly, I think that’s one of the biggest issues coming down the road for college football. In think our conference is in agreement, but we have to find a way to contain that, kind of like strength and conditioning. That was an issue less than 10 years ago, and we’ve got that under control in a workable situation. I think that’s something that needs to get done.”
In March, Alabama hired former Maryland offensive coordinator and interim coach Mike Locksley as an analyst. Locksley is considered one of the nation’s top recruiters and could join that effort for Bama.
In June, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema hired Rob Ash, who spent 18 seasons as Drake’s head coach, as an offensive analyst. “[Ash] will work with our staff in advanced preparation and also various projects with me,” Bielema said in a release.
“You could hire an army of people with all of the information and data to analyze,” Ferentz said. “You can overdo things from an analytical standpoint. You can have too many voices, but certainly in college football, for the health of the game, we’re going to have to come to some type of national agreement for what the right numbers are. What you pay people, that’s your own issue.”
Ferentz mentioned that some schools have hired former coaches or coordinators to put together game plans a week ahead of schedule.
“Personally, I like to start fresh and make my own opinions and conclusions on evaluating a prospect or a player on our team,” Ferentz said. “Information can be overdone, too.”
Barta didn’t divulge possibilities, but he did say Iowa is open to a potential neutral site game. Iowa’s last such game was against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2012. Iowa has twice played NIU at Soldier Field. The Hawkeyes also played Kansas State at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., in 2000.
“Now that we know we’re going to have nine Big Ten games moving forward,” Barta said, “we’re taking a hard look whether or not we could have a neutral site game. We had a great experience here. If we can have that kind of experience, we’re certainly looking at it.”
Barta said Iowa is open to more than just Chicago. He also said it would have to make sense financially (the revenue would have to equal the gate from a home game, which is around $4 million). Arkansas and Kansas City was mentioned, but, again, no possibilities were mentioned.
Ferentz said junior defensive tackle Brant Gressel and incoming freshman cornerback Lance Billings have left the team.
Billings arrived from Lorain, Ohio, for summer conditioning in early June and left shortly thereafter. Ferentz believes he will play college football somewhere else. Gressel will continue at Iowa and finish up an engineering degree.
Ferentz said Iowa’s 2017 recruiting class will be around 20, “one or two, either way.”
Iowa is in the market for a new punter and kicker, so Ferentz said eight specialists will be among the 105 players invited to fall camp, which begins Aug. 6.
The list likely will include kickers Miguel Recinos, Mick Ellis, Josh Proehl, Keith Duncan and Caleb Shudak. Punters likely will include Colten Rastetter, Ron Coluzzi and Jackson Terry.
Josey Jewell’s family lives on a farm near Decorah. This summer, the Jewells build a massive “Slip ’n slide” that sent the slider barreling into a pool that was backed by hay bales.
Jewell’s brother, Robby, made a slick video showing the fun, complete with drones and a few other Iowa football players.
Yes, the franchise linebacker flew down a water slide, while holding an American flag, and into a pool backed by hay bales.
Ferentz smiled when asked about it.
“They’ve assured me that’s off limits now. Potential for more sports hernias,” he said.