Iowa Football

10 non-threatening facts about Iowa football

Hawkeyes have mined Waukee, Waukon and Waukesha

Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) tries to block a pass by Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley during a game at Kinnick Stadium last year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa (94) tries to block a pass by Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley during a game at Kinnick Stadium last year. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

This is a welcome-to-August college football post, a the-season-starts-a-month-from-today post.

It’s featherweight stuff, not the kind of thing you would be seeing from anyone covering Ohio State today. See this item from Brett McMurphy if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

This post isn’t about players leaving the team, getting arrested, getting named to watch lists for the Cecil B. DeMille Award, or anything like that. It’s just trivia, stuff I gleaned from Iowa’s 2018 media guide.

1. Hawkeyes Coach Kirk Ferentz has two grandsons (and three granddaughters). The little boys’ names are John and Forest. John is the son of Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.

Now, John was the name of Kirk’s father/Brian’s grandfather, so that’s the connection.

But there’s a coincidence here. Along with Ferentz, the most-accomplished Iowa football coaches of the last 65 years are John Hayden Fry and Forest Evashevski.

2. The first college coaching job for Iowa assistant coach Kelvin Bell was at Cornell College. The first college job for Hawkeyes assistant Seth Wallace was at Coe College.

Both schools have had some great athletic stories over their long histories. When I think Coe sports, I automatically go first to Marv Levy, the Pro Football Hall of Famer. But neither has been a cradle of major-college coaches, so I like that two of my neighborhood small colleges have their ties to the big boys.

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For the unaware, Cornell and Coe have the oldest college football rivalry west of the Mississippi River, dating to 1891.

3. Mark Weisman, who rushed for 2,162 yards at Iowa from 2012 to 2014, has become an assistant strength and conditioning coach for the Hawkeyes. He was with the program last year as the Refueling, Nutrition and Analytics Specialist.

4. Yes, the Iowa program had a Refueling, Nutrition and Analytics Specialist. I can’t tell if that position has been refueled, I mean, refilled. Iowa also has a director of football operations, an assistant director of football operations, a director of player development, a director of player personnel, a director of recruiting, a director of new media, and three football analysts.

5. The Hawkeyes have 19 offensive linemen. Fifteen are from Iowa. They have 17 defensive backs. Five are from Iowa.

6. Six Hawkeye players (LB Nick Anderson, DE Jake Morrison, DE Anthony Nelson, DE Nathan Nelson, OL Ross Reynolds and OL Kyle Sorensen) are from Waukee. One (DE Parker Hesse) is from Waukon. One (WR Max Cooper) is from Waukesha, Wis.

7. The Big Ten member with the best record in bowl games since 2001? Go ahead, guess. Nope. Guess again. Uh uh. Try one more time. Wrong.

The correct answer is Rutgers, 6-3 in bowls since ’01. The only other Big Ten team with a winning bowl record in that time is Ohio State, 9-7. Iowa is 7-8. Wisconsin is 8-8, Penn State 7-7, Michigan 4-10, Northwestern 3-7.

8. Among prominent Hawkeye football players who were good at high school basketball are a big bunch of big defensive cogs. Included are linebacker Kristian Welch (team basketball MVP), defensive tackle Matt Nelson and defensive end Sam Brincks (three-year lettermen in hoops), defensive end Anthony Nelson (averaged 14.1 points and 9.3 rebounds as a junior) and defensive end A.J. Epenesa (averaged a double-double of points and rebounds as a senior).

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Epenesa scored over 1,000 career points. As a sophomore, he had 30 points, 16 rebounds and two dunks in a game.

9. Iowa wide receiver Brandon Smith is from Lake Cormorant, Miss., which is unincorporated. Iowa wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette is from Newark, N.J., which has a population of almost 300,000.

10. Kirk Ferentz is an inductee of the Upper St. Clair (Pa.) High School Halls of Fame. So is comedian Anthony Jeselnik and many more successful people in academics, arts and athletics.

If you’ve ever seen Jeselnik perform, you can’t imagine he and Ferentz would have hung out together had they been in high school at the same time. But it takes all kinds.

l Comments: (319) 368-8840; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.