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IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz recalls a 1994 game when he was on Bill Belichick’s staff in the NFL when officiating “got distracting” in a 20-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It didn’t help our cause at all,” the 24th-year Iowa head coach said Saturday. “So I try not to get distracted by things.”
Ferentz’s best intentions aside, he took displeasure with some of the Big Ten officiating crew’s calls in Iowa’s 27-14 loss Saturday against No. 4 Michigan.
“To say it didn’t impact the game a little bit, the way things went, I think that would probably be naive,” Ferentz said.
Perhaps the most glaring call was a 15-yard clipping penalty on offensive lineman Connor Colby despite Colby appearing to make a legal cut-block.
“I’ve had a problem with college football’s interpretation of cut-blocking for probably a decade now, and I don’t see that getting any better,” Ferentz said. “The good news is they’ll probably eliminate it from football next year, so we won’t have to worry about it.”
It came two plays after a holding call on the offensive line that negated a Kaleb Johnson run. When excluding the two plays affected by penalties, Iowa had 30 yards on five plays on the drive — not out-of-this-world, but respectable.
Later in the game, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Logan Jones turned what would’ve been a first-and-goal on the Michigan 2-yard line into a second-and-25 on the Michigan 33-yard line.
Ferentz said he was “a little perplexed by that one.”
“You can’t be too aggressive out there on that field,” Ferentz said with some sarcasm. “You can’t do that with a play that’s still going on. You all have seen (Tyler) Linderbaum do that a lot on the other side of the line of scrimmage.”
The discussion over whether it was unnecessary roughness became a moot point, though, when Iowa scored a touchdown anyway.
Ferentz also, unprompted, said it looked like linebacker Jack Campbell “got tackled” on a play where the officials did not call a holding on Michigan’s offensive line.
“You guys probably saw that one, right?” Ferentz said. “Looked like he was in a hole and some outside hands snatched him down.”
Ferentz, when asked why it wasn’t a penalty, thought the holding was “pretty obvious” and “pretty flagrant.”
“They obviously didn’t see it,” Ferentz said. “I’m not questioning anybody’s integrity. I’m not going down that road. The guys are working hard. It’s hard. They’ve got a really hard job.”
The number of penalties on Iowa wasn’t all that uncharacteristic. The Hawkeyes averaged 4.25 penalties per game in the first four weeks of 2022 and had five against Michigan.
It also was far from the only problem for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa had two offensive drives with penalties and no points. Had one resulted in a touchdown and one in a field goal — a big “if” considering Iowa’s offensive inconsistency and Michigan’s defensive fortitude — Iowa would’ve still lost.
It’s not the first time Ferentz has publicly taken aim at an officiating crew. After Iowa’s 10-7 loss to Iowa State, he commented on differences in officiating between the Big Ten and Big 12. As part of the Cy-Hawk contract, the visiting team provides the officials.
This time, it was a Big Ten crew drawing fire from Ferentz.
“It is what it is,” Ferentz said Saturday. “But it impacted the game, and we weren’t good enough to overcome that.”