Iowa Football: Kirk Ferentz's Failures to Execute Cost Iowa a Berth in Bowl Game

David Fidler Correspondent INovember 29, 2012

IOWA CITY, IA- SEPTEMBER 22:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes yells at an offiial during the third quarter against the Central Michigan Chippewas on September 22, 2012 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.  Central Michigan defeated Iowa 32-31.  (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Bowl bids will be chosen and announced following this weekend's conference championship games.

However, the Iowa Hawkeyes will be staying home this holiday season.

This is despite a soft schedule that saw Iowa miss Wisconsin (7-5) and Ohio State (12-0) in conference play. Its toughest out-of-conference foe was 6-6 Iowa State.

Kirk Ferentz likes to cite "execution" as the typical reason for the Hawks failures, and he's correct.

As anybody that watched Iowa in 2012 knows, the team wasn't good. This manifested itself in dropped passes, missed tackles, blown coverages, bad penalties, poor quarterback play and missed blocking assignments.

Nevertheless, if the measure of a coach is how well he prepares his players and puts them in a position to win, then Kirk Ferentz, in his 14th year at Iowa, could be said to have failed miserably at executing his job.

It's true that the Hawkeyes came into the season inexperienced at a number of positions, as well as lacking talent and size at others, but they did have enough of all of these things to have done better than 4-8. This is especially true when one considers that four of their losses were to teams with six wins or less.

One might argue that Iowa was "out-talented" against Michigan and Nebraska, but all of the other opponents on their schedule were beatable. Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes kept failing to show up, looked unprepared and eventually lost due to a bevy of mental errors.

There have been mental errors made this season and over the last few years. These chronic mental errors are entirely on the coaching.

The two-minute offense and clock management issues have gotten to a point where Hawkeye fans almost accept it as Ferentz-being-Ferentz, as though the issues are unfixable. One is left to wonder if Ferentz doesn't realize they are problems or if he has taken any steps to fix them. It is difficult to envision any other reasons for these repeated failures.

Meanwhile, against Nebraska, other notable mental errors included pooch-punter John Wienke punting the ball into the end zone with no return man back. Additionally, Iowa recorded its second offensive penalty of the season after coming out of a timeout: The penalty was for having 12 men in the huddle.

These were just a couple of mental errors in a game full of mental errors in a season full of mental errors.

And mental errors are all correctable and are all on the coach. Especially when they happen over and over and over again.

Close games are decided by one or two plays and are won by superior coaches. Coaches who have their players ready to win the close games are the best coaches. Xs and Os and talent matter, but execution wins ball games and key execution comes down to how well a coach has his players ready.

Since 2005, Kirk Ferentz's record in games decided by a touchdown or less is 14-24.

Even worse, amongst those 14 wins include close (seven points or less) victories over 2006 Syracuse (4-8), 2007 Minnesota (1-11), 2008 Purdue (4-8), 2009 Arkansas State (4-8), 2009 Northern Iowa (FCS), 2009 Michigan (5-7) and 2010 Indiana (5-7).

In other words, eight of Iowa's "close" wins have been against teams that were hardly setting gridirons on fire.

And Iowa's struggles against overmatched foes have been well-documented by the likes of Mike Hlas of the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

Most of those losses featured the mental errors that have become commonplace, though the mistakes this year were particularly awful.

Outliers happen, but when mistakes repeat themselves not only over the course of a season but over the course of a career, it becomes evident that the coach isn't preparing his players. In other words, he's not executing.

In the end, Iowa isn't going bowling, but it's not because the players failed to execute.

The failure to execute belongs to the coaches, and thus, to Kirk Ferentz.