Iowa Football

Iowa football student managers play vital roles in program

Kirk Ferentz: 'The work that they do, it's unbelievable'

Austin Maus (middle of red hats) and two other student assistants watch the action during Iowa's game against Michigan S
Austin Maus (middle of red hats) and two other student assistants watch the action during Iowa’s game against Michigan State on Nov. 7. Student assistant play a vital role during the week and on game days. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — They love football. As young boys in the Metro Youth Football Association in town, they dreamed of playing someday for their favorite college and/or NFL team.

But high school ball ended up being it for the careers of Austin Maus and Matt Condon. At least from a playing standpoint.

Graduates of Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Linn-Mar, respectively, the two seniors are living a version of their original dream, and in many ways, this one’s better.

They’re part of a big-time college football program, just two of many non-playing students who help out the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“I don’t think people realize how many of us help with college athletics, but that’s OK,” Maus said. “I don’t do this job to be recognized in the public eye, because I know my work helps create a better team, which people do notice and care about. Ultimately, this work will help me later on my in my career, and the culture here has allowed me to become a better person. I’m just happy to help in any way I can and am thankful Coach (Kirk) Ferentz and his staff have given me the opportunity.”

This is Maus’ fourth year with the program and Condon’s third. They have different duties.

Maus was able to get his foot in the door right away as a freshman in 2017 as a recruiting assistant. After two years, he moved to a position where he is with the offensive staff.

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He works directly with assistant coach/offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz and the team’s tight ends and fullbacks. He even had to learn the playbook.

Condon’s duties are a bit more two-fold. He helps with the football operations part of the program (taking care of equipment, helping set up team meals and itineraries, etc.) and also is assigned to assist the linebackers and linebackers coach Seth Wallace.

Maus gets a stipend, with his seven-day-a-week “job” also counting as part of a work-study program. Condon gets much of his tuition paid for via a scholarship.

They’re both quick to tell you it’s not about that.

“I’ve always been around the university, whether it was going to football and basketball games, just being about a half-hour away,” said Condon, whose parents are Iowa graduates who met as students in Iowa City. “Obviously, I grew up wanting to play for them. That didn’t work out. So I just knew that I wanted to work in sports after college, and this just seemed like a really good way to get my foot in the door and involved. It has truly turned into what I want to do. I want to work in football operations after I graduate. I credit that to my bosses, the people I work with. They have really just set me up for what I want to do.”

“This experience has been incredible,” Maus said. “It’s been a dream to work in college football, but, specifically, for this team, given that I grew up 30 minutes away. I’ve always had great respect for Coach Ferentz and how he runs the program, so to be a part of it has been awesome. I’ve learned a lot about how much work is put into creating a successful Division I program, and how many people go into it. Also, Coach Ferentz and the entire staff do a great job of teaching life skills, which has allowed me to improve even in my four short years. This program has also allowed me to work with a great group of graduate and student assistants daily, and I’ll probably keep those friendships for life.”

Here is a typical day for Maus and Condon.

They’ll come to the football complex around 7 to 7:45 a.m. to get ready for morning practice. Condon is part of a group that makes sure everything is set up, Maus helps prepare and passes out practice scripts and creates tape cutups for meetings.

Both observe and aid in practice as needed.

After practice, Condon helps makes sure the team’s catered brunch/lunch is ready in the football complex’s cafeteria area. Maus helps prepare a sheet and video for the offensive coaching staff of plays from that practice.

In a non-pandemic year, it’d be time to attend class, but since things are online now, neither technically ever has to leave the complex. There is supper for everyone and night meetings, then it’s do it all over the next day.

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On game days, Condon works with equipment manager Greg Morris to set up the locker room. For road trips, which both men go on, he’ll help unload the team’s semi-truck when it arrives at whatever stadium.

Condon and Maus are on the sideline during games, helping chart plays and the results of them, among other duties: Condon defensively and Maus offensively. That input goes to the respective assistants they work for, for in-game adjustments and the like.

“We always say we want the coaches to worry about coaching and the players worry about playing,” Condon said. “Then us just take care of everything else.”

The guys say their Iowa football experiences have helped them decide their futures.

Maus wants to get into the coaching aspect of the game, his immediate goal being a graduate assistant somewhere. Condon wants to get into the game operations part of it for a school.

He credits Morris and Iowa’s director of football operations Paul Federici and assistant Ben Hansen for their unwavering support and teaching abilities.

“The players and coaches treat me great, and I enjoy being around them every day,” Maus said. “I spend the most time with Coach Brian, and he has been extremely helpful and supportive, and I am grateful for the opportunity he has given me. Also, the tight end and fullback unit is an awesome group of guys, and hanging out with them makes every day great.”

“The players, obviously we’re the same age as they are, so you become friends with them,” Condon said. “The coaches, they recognize all the hours we put in, so they really respect us there.”

Kirk Ferentz concurs with what Condon said.

“All these guys that help out, young guys that are student assistants or whatever, they just have a love for the game like we do, and so it’s a way for them to make contributions and help the coaches with paperwork, statistics, all those kinds of things,” he said. “They can’t actually necessarily be out there coaching, but they can do things to help around the office, help with recruiting. It’s a good life experience for them, especially if they are trying to figure out if they want to get into this profession. That part is great.”

It’s obviously not just players Ferentz and his staff are developing here.

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“I think about that a lot. You think about our student managers, the work that they do, it’s unbelievable. It’s extremely impressive,” Ferentz said. “If you had a business in the private sector, you would hire those guys, because I tell you, they get up early, they work hard, they stay up late, and we get back from a road trip ... you’re unpacking things.

"There are a lot of people that have helped make the organization be successful. It’s not just the players and the coaches. They are out there in front, but there’s a lot of people working, and I think they all find value in what they do. Hopefully it’s a good experience for them.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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