Iowa Football

Coaching against Iowa in a bowl leads to job insecurity

4 of last 6 coaches of Hawkeyes' bowl foes were later fired

Boston College coach Steve Addazio and Iowa counterpart Kirk Ferentz pose with the Pinstripe Bowl’s championship trophy at Yankee Stadium in New York on Dec. 26, 2017. Addazio was fired by BC on Sunday. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)
Boston College coach Steve Addazio and Iowa counterpart Kirk Ferentz pose with the Pinstripe Bowl’s championship trophy at Yankee Stadium in New York on Dec. 26, 2017. Addazio was fired by BC on Sunday. (Manish Gosalia/Freelance)

No coach should want to face Iowa in a bowl game this year.

It’s not that the Hawkeyes are a combination of Clemson, LSU and Ohio State in a clever disguise. No, it’s just that things haven’t gone especially well for coaches after they met Iowa in bowls during the Hawkeyes’ current streak of bowl appearances. For instance:

2013 season: vs. LSU in the Outback Bowl

The Tigers beat Iowa 21-14 in Tampa to cap a 10-3 season, their fourth-straight with double-digit wins. But they went 8-5 and 9-3 the next two years, then Les Miles was fired after four games of the 2016 season when LSU was 2-2.

Miles resurfaced at Kansas this year. The Jayhawks were improved at, ahem, 3-9. They closed the season with a 61-6 home loss to Baylor.

LSU, minus Miles, is doing just fine these days.

2014: vs. Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl

Volunteers fans loved Butch Jones after the Vols routed Iowa 45-28 in Jacksonville. That gave them a 7-6 record, modest by old Tennessee standards, but their first winning season in five years. They followed that with two 9-4 marks.

All good, right? Uh, no. Missouri beat Tennessee 50-17 in the 10th game of the 2017 season to give the Vols an 0-6 SEC mark, and Jones was fired the next day.

Jones now is an offensive analyst with Alabama, which will be excluded from the College Football Playoff Sunday for the first time in the CFP’s six-year history.

2015: vs. Stanford in the Rose Bowl

Stanford crushed Iowa in Pasadena, its third Rose Bowl triumph in four years. It won 10, nine and nine games the next three years, but two Sun Bowls and an Alamo Bowl weren’t Pasadena.

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This year, however, the Cardinal vanished. They lost their last four games and finished 4-8 including their first defeat to California in 10 years

Stanford Coach David Shaw is in no trouble job-wise, not with his track record. Still, losing the last two games of the season at home to rivals Cal and Notre Dame and not going to a bowl for the first time since 2008 makes for a tough winter.

“I plan on celebrating on a lot of other people's fields next year,” Shaw said after Notre Dame fans did just that on Stanford’s turf last Saturday after the Fighting Irish beat the Cardinal, 45-24.

2016: vs. Florida in the Outback Bowl

Jim McElwain’s Gators crushed Iowa, 30-3, in Tampa. He was fired the following October after his team lost 42-7 to Georgia to fall to 3-4. If you’re keeping score, that’s three coaches since 2013 who were fired in midseason after playing Iowa in bowls.

At least McElwain has enjoyed 2019, his first year as Central Michigan’s coach, CMU is 8-4 and will play against Miami (Ohio) in Saturday's Mid-American Conference championship game.

Florida, meanwhile, is 20-5 over the last two seasons and hasn’t missed McElwain a bit.

2017: vs. Boston College in the Pinstripe Bowl

The Eagles were 7-6 after their loss to Iowa in New York. Steve Addazio’s 2018 BC team posted a 7-5 record, went to the First Responder Bowl, and didn’t win that, either. Of course, it never had a chance. The Dallas game was canceled due to inclement weather after a lightning delay.

BC was 6-6 this season, including a loss to Kansas. Addazio got fired Sunday. Not all of his former players were sorry to see it happen.

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2018: vs. Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl

The Bulldogs were 8-5 last season in Joe Moorhead’s first season as their coach. Some wondered if that was good enough considering he had three defensive players who went on to be first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft. That defense held the Hawkeyes to minus-15 rushing yards and 199 total yards, but Iowa still came out on top, 27-22.

This year, the Bulldogs were 6-6 and needed one of the most-famous unsportsmanlike penalties in history to help them beat Ole Miss on Thanksgiving night. Moorhead is staying in Mississippi, but Sports Illustrated reported he met with MSU’s athletics director for four hours on Saturday to discuss the program’s future.

Included in Mississippi State’s six wins that made them bowl eligible was a triumph over Abilene Christian.

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz seemed to be on the hot seat after the 2014 season, but then came 2015’s Rose Bowl run, followed by four seasons of at least eight wins. So he has his job as long as he wants to keep it.

Although, a lot of these coaches Ferentz has faced in bowls might warn him to never get too comfortable.

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