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Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has 143 wins under his belt at the University of Iowa, one away from the all-time record.

The Gazette will count down each win, as ranked by writer Marc Morehouse.


And then Shonn Greene was gone

Outback Bowl: Iowa 31, South Carolina 10 | Jan. 1, 2009

Iowa running back Shonn Greene greets South Carolina's Addison Williams after the Hawkeyes beat the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Iowa running back Shonn Greene greets South Carolina's Addison Williams after the Hawkeyes beat the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium on Thursday, Jan. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

Three cool things:

1. This is sort of an ask out of you guys, but is there a practical use for the “live blog” devices that everyone in newspapers ran to and then ran from because people could put whatever they want on the blog?

I see people still use that format. We got away from it, but now I’m wondering if that wasn’t a mistake, especially after reading about the range of people who hopped on for this game.

The Gazette’s live blog had posters from Senegal to Iraq, Germany to Washington. Here’s a sampling of the comments: “I’m still waiting to see the awesome speed from S.C. Haven’t seen much yet.”

“Gen. Sherman just said to put down the torches, Iowa. They’ve had enough.”

“Watching the Hawks kick some from the desert-like terrain of Northern Senegal, West Africa ... nothing better.”

“Greetings, all ... in a war zone, but found a way to get on the Hlog! Happy New Year! Go Hawks!”

I’m totally intrigued by that range. We probably need to figure something out.

2. I kind of think South Carolina is the Iowa of the SEC. It can get there from here, but it’s never going to be a perfectly straight line.

If Iowa went and plucked a name coach who was just sort of into it, Iowa would be Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina.

I think of Spurrier as sort of the last gunfighter. You won’t find a more interesting college football thinker right now. I listen to him occasionally on SiriusXM and he’s great. He’s still great for the game.

For this Outback game, though, he showed up in a golf cart, in golf shoes, with a golf score card at the ready.

It was totally striking the entire week how Spurrier was just kind of into it. Maybe it was the SEC vs. B1G and Spurrier thought the Gamecocks could run past or over the Hawkeyes.

— South Carolina was 7-5. That was the most losses for any Outback team at that point.

— USC closed its season with losses to Florida (56-6) and Clemson (31-14). The day after the Clemson debacle, Spurrier fired offensive line coach John Hunt.

— USC started Stephen Garcia. He had a trail of suspensions for off-field stuff. His on-field in the Outback deserved some sort of punishment.

— Spurrier was 63 going into this game. Contrast that with Kirk Ferentz, who’ll be 63 going into this season.

And then try to follow this: On a Tuesday night going into this Outback game, he hired Willie McCorvey to be his receivers coach. McCorvey had been the offensive coordinator at Mississippi State, but was basically out of a job when head coach Sylvester Croom resigned on Nov. 29.

But the next morning, Spurrier unhired McCorvey.

“I woke up and said I made a mistake yesterday,” Spurrier said, “and tried to correct it as quickly as possible.”

Spurrier had two staff openings, a green and unsteady starting quarterback, a poor offensive line and a team that got pounded in its last two games.

There’s a lesson here for programs who want to hire coaches like say, maybe, Les Miles.

3. I knew Shonn Greene was outta here, so you had to pretend like it was a surprise and get on the starting line for the chase for the news in the postgame.

Greene went over to the opposite sideline with ESPN’s Joe Schad and the news was out before he even said a word to reporters. (Yes, ESPN does a lot of the work, but I thought Joe worked his tail off. He covers the Dolphins now for a Florida newspaper. Same tenacious dude.)

We still had to pretend like this was a vital surprise. (Yes, Greene was a delayed senior and would’ve been 24 if he had stayed. Why would a running back ever stay? Especially at 23?)

”No surprise,” center Rob Bruggeman said. “There were a few reasons not to (go pro) and there were a lot to go pro.”

Greene finished with the greatest season by an Iowa running back, setting records for yards (1,850), touchdowns (20) and tied kicker Nate Kaeding for the season record in points (120).

In this game, Greene ran over a tough SEC defense ranked No. 12 in the country. The Gamecocks talked trash early and then were helping Greene up by the second quarter.

“I would’ve been more shocked if he didn’t go to the pros, really,” guard Julian Vandervelde said. “He’s had a great career. It’s definitely time for him to go. This is the best decision for him.”

What else was did he need to do? Only the dreamers and true believers thought maybe he’d play college football as a 24-year-old.

Welcome to the real world, dreamers.

“I don’t think there’s really a lot more I can do here,” Greene said. “People talk about the Heisman, but I think that’s a lot of politics. I don’t like getting caught up in all of that, so I just figure I’ll try my chances.”

Greene, who won the Doak Walker Award that season, rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for more than 100 yards in all 13 games and scored in all but one.

“It’s the right decision,” defensive tackle Mitch King said. “I don’t think he could have had a better season next year. He might’ve topped it, but why do you need to? He’ll be drafted high.”

Let’s face it, the kid didn’t dig school. Greene sat out the 2007 season because of academic problems, punched in for one brilliant season and said goodbye.

In the postgame, he was asked about his favorite NFL team. Someone piped in, “The one with the most Benjamins?” This was a reference to Benjamin Franklin and his picture on the $100 bill.

“There you go,” Greene said with a laugh.

And there he went.

Quote: Tyler Sash tore it up in this one. Two picks. Sash was just a sophomore and totally respected his elders.

“I keep repeating this, but it really does start with King and Kroul,” said Sash, who tied the Outback record with his two interceptions. “Game in, game out. They set the tempo for the game. We know they’re going to get some pressure on the quarterback and that leads to interceptions for us.

“Those guys are our best friends.”

Note: 20,000 of you showed up at Raymond James Stadium for this one. Hawkeye fans are still coveted by bowls, even though bowls don’t have the say they once had in the teams they get.

Why No. 42? — This is about right. It shouldn’t be higher than the Pinstripe Bowl. I’m pretty sure I left it that way. My bad.


Game story from 2009

TAMPA, Fla. — There was nothing left to prove here.

Shonn Greene punched in for one blazing, brilliant season and so now he’s turning pro. Thursday’s Outback Bowl fell into nothing-to-prove mode after about the first 10 minutes.

The Hawkeyes (9-4) punched in for maybe 1 1/2 blazing, brilliant quarters and beat the Gamecock decals off the helmets of a disinterested, undisciplined and just plain awful South Carolina (7-6) outfit.

Greene was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns, helping the Hawkeyes turn five Carolina turnovers into 17 points in a 31-10 victory before 55,117 mostly Iowa fans at Raymond James Stadium.

Greene is gone; that’s the big news. He announced his decision in interviews as he walked off the field.

An NFL scout who attended an Iowa practice here told Hawkeye people he didn’t see Greene falling past the 20th pick in April’s NFL draft. That’s a contract in the five-year, $12 million range with $7 million guaranteed.

That’s just sound, sound logic.

“I didn’t know,” said Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who was the first to touch the Outback Bowl trophy, which, with the Super Bowl in town this year, looked a lot like the Vince Lombardi Trophy only with a boomerang stuck on it. “He told me walking down the hall to this.

“He’s such a great team member. He thinks so right. He’s going to be an extremely valuable and a great asset to any team that’s smart enough to take him next year.”

Ferentz is at the center of the other NFL story line. Ferentz was linked this week to Patriots personnel executive Scott Pioli, a longtime Ferentz friend. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Thursday that Pioli is under no deadline to make a decision on a head coach.

“Nothing, no news,” Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta barked on the sidelines.

That was basically what happened after the first quarter.

Nothing, no news.

The Hawkeyes took the first drive and marched 64 yards on 13 plays for a 7-0 lead on quarterback Ricky Stanzi’s 6-yard pass to wide receiver Trey Stross, who later broke his collarbone.

The Hawkeyes did everything they wanted to do on the drive against the Gamecocks’ best foot forward, their 12th-ranked defense. With nine defenders planted on the line of scrimmage, Greene still managed 25 yards on seven carries. Stanzi found tight end Brandon Myers for first downs on third-and-8, third-and-5 and another third-and-8.

“We were able to capitalize on a lot of things because of Shonn,” Stanzi said. “They have to come down and respect him. They bring guys into the box and they overload a certain side, it gives us a lot of room to call a lot of plays. We gave them a steady diet of run and pass.”

On the Gamecocks’ second play, quarterback Stephen Garcia floated the ball into the deep middle, where safety Tyler Sash picked off the first of his two interceptions and returned it 29 yards to SC’s 18.

Five plays later, Greene, who finished the best season for an Iowa back with records for yards (1,850) and rush TDs (20), crashed in from the 1 for a 14-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first quarter.

“We had a whole bunch of penalties, we had a whole bunch of, aw shoot, we had a whole bunch of stuff,” Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier said. “I feel for our fans who came down here and spent a whole lot of money. Give Iowa credit for kicking our tails today.”

Garcia teed up one up for the Hawkeyes again, underthrowing a receiver with cornerback Bradley Fletcher swooping in and intercepting in the end zone. Iowa went 80 yards on nine plays, with Greene again smashing in from the 1 for a 21-0 lead with 8:09 left before halftime.

The big play was Stanzi hitting wide-open tight end Tony Moeaki for a 39-yard gain to SC’s 29. Moeaki started the play on a block, an SC linebacker bit hard on the run fake to Greene and that was that.

“This was all defense and offensive line,” Stanzi said. “Hats off to both. They did what they’ve been doing all year. They’ve been solid all year.”

Iowa scored on its first two drives of the second half — Daniel Murray booted an 18-yard field goal, Greene scored on a brilliant 11-yard run — to go up 31-0 and basically put this thing in a sleeper hold.

“We had a chance to show the country what we’re about and we stunk it up again,” SC receiver Kenny McKinley said.

The Gamecocks were so one dimensional they made paper look like dynamic geometry.

SC rushed just 14 times for 43 yards. Garcia lasted a half and ended his day 8 of 19 for 79 yards and three picks. He was pulled in the second half in favor of Chris Smelley, who enjoyed some success in sleepy time. At one point in the first half, Iowa had as many TDs (two) as the Gamecocks had plays.

The Hawkeyes’ 23 interceptions this season ties the school record set in 1986. Defensive tackles Mitch King and Matt Kroul went out the way they wanted to, punching out an opposing offense.

“I keep repeating this, but it really does start with King and Kroul,” said Sash, who tied the Outback record with his two interceptions. “Game in, game out. They set the tempo for the game. We know they’re going to get some pressure on the quarterback and that leads to interceptions for us.

“Those guys are our best friends.”

With about nine minutes left, Hawkeyes players started planning the Gatorade shower for Ferentz. You have to question the spontaneity, though. King said they asked if they could do it.

“We didn’t know how Coach Ferentz would feel about it, especially with all that headset and pricey equipment on,” King said. “I’m just glad I got over there and got a hold of that bucket.”

They got him good. Almost as good as they got Carolina.