IOWA CITY — Whether it was Kirk Ferentz's or Gary Barta's idea, something needed to be said about the state of Iowa football.
And so, Ferentz said stuff. A lot of stuff. First and foremost, the Iowa football coach will begin his 17th season with an open mind to change.
“Football-wise we've got to look at everything,” Ferentz said during a half-hour news conference Wednesday afternoon. “Maybe not what we're doing, but how we're teaching it, making sure we're getting it taught and executed the way we need to if we're expecting to be successful against good competition.”
Any dramatic changes? Probably not.
“The big thing is before we change anything, we want to make sure we're making the right changes,” Ferentz said. “There's no sense to change things just to change things. There are some things that are going to look different. I don't how dramatic they'll be, but they'll look different here.”
Changes in the coaching staff? (The immediate answer was “no,” but that doesn't mean change won't come from outside opportunities.)
“I think we have great people in this program,” Ferentz said. “Feel really good about that, and, yeah, what we're going to do right now is make sure we've got people pointed in the right direction and sitting in the right seats and doing the right things.”
And what of the January depth chart, released last week, and the change at quarterback, with junior C.J. Beathard being listed No. 1 ahead of senior Jake Rudock?
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“I think it's very, very close between the two of them,” Ferentz said. “At this scheduled point, I think we're all in agreement that the thing that gives us, at this point, what we believe gives us the best chance is to move forward right now is to give C.J. a chance to be the starting quarterback.”
The answer to the “who's transferring among the QBs question” is open-ended. Ferentz acknowledged that's certainly a possibility.
“That is part of college football,” Ferentz said. “I'm hopeful that they will be. I've talked to both guys and that is their plan as of the last time we talked, but it could be a fluid process.”
Ferentz referenced Iowa's new $55 million indoor facility and football operations building, from where this news conference was held. He said he believed he spent too much time outside of the football complex and too much time in the last year meeting with boosters, and fundraising.
“I've got to do a better job as a head coach, spend more time in the building with our people and less time on the outside,” said Ferentz, 59. “We built the building, that is good news. Not that I like disliked fundraising, but I need to spend more time in here and watch more film.”
This January news conference is unprecedented for Ferentz. For the most part, the regular routine for the last 16 years has been bowl game, radio silence through January and then a news conference on signing day.
After Iowa was throttled 45-28 by Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl on Jan. 2, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta acknowledged the volume of dissatisfaction surrounding the program reached levels he hadn't seen in his nine years at Iowa, including a 4-8 record in 2012.
That was part of the reason for Wednesday's news conference, he said.
“He felt, and I certainly supported it, that between now and signing day is too big of a chasm,” Barta said. “People have shared rumors with me. Kirk's out, I'm out, we're both out. He's the new AD, etc., etc. Just to talk about all that's out there. To hear directly from our head coach, here's where we think it went sideways in '14 and here are our plans for '15. I know he didn't lay out every particular plan, that will come later.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Ferentz began Wednesday with a breakdown of where Iowa has been in his 16 seasons. He mentioned the 2012 season, when the late Norm Parker retired as defensive coordinator and longtime offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe departed for the Miami Dolphins, and said “we've been in a little bit of a transition.”
If you look at 2012 and 2013, the year we went through our two new coordinators, six new staff members, so the way I look at it, we're moving forward here in the next, second phase of this whole thing,” Ferentz said. “Just like the first 13 years, we've had our ups and downs during this period as well, and the bottom line is as we sit here in January 2015, it's very clear we've got work to do.
“I'm certainly in tune to that and certainly aware of that, and most importantly committed to doing that work. I think that's where it all gets down to.”
There are a million ways to slice Iowa's record in the last five seasons, but Barta said before the TaxSlayer Bowl 7-5 didn't meet expectations. He didn't put a number on 2015.
“That wasn't a line in the sand, seven wins, eight wins,” Barta said. “In 2013, eight wins met expectations. Ultimately, we want to win a championship every year, that's our goal starting out. But at the end of 2013, I felt we met expectations. So going into '15, we want to improve, we want to regain momentum, but there's no magic number behind that.”
To that end, Ferentz was asked if 2015 feels like a “last stand.”
“Not for me,” he said. He went on to answer what reasonable expectations could be for next season.
“We'll evaluate it our own way,” Ferentz said. “It's different from other people, but the goal is at the end of the day to feel really good about what we did. There are a lot of things we feel great about last year, but there are some things we don't. We've got to move forward and that's our goal.”
Audio from AD Gary Barta's section of the press conference