Sportsmanship. Integrity. Responsibility. Excellence.
Those are the characteristics Kirk Ferentz personifies. And it just so happens, those are the characteristics it takes to be considered for The Bryant College Football Coach of the Year.
So it comes as no surprise that Ferentz appears on the Bryant Watch List this year , along with several other very deserving college coaches.
The winner of the Coach of the Year is voted on by members of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association and is the only college football coaching award voted on after all bowl games are played.
The same characteristics the Bryant Award committee looks for are also the same characteristics that NFL owners look for. Those same characteristics, combined with the Hawkeyes success so far this year, have caused the NFL whispers about Ferentz to surface again.
At this point, Hawkeyes fans are used to these whispers and rumors. Ferentz is a draw to NFL owners because of his character, his success at Iowa, his past NFL experience and his ability to turn diamonds in the rough into NFL all-stars.
He also still has a lot of friends and contacts in the NFL organization. Scott Pioli , the general manager for the Kansas City Chiefs, is a long time friend of Ferentz.
With the way this year is going for the Hawkeyes, the NFL rumors regarding Ferentz won't go away any time soon.
Thankfully his new contract takes him through the 2015 season, giving Hawkeye fans a sense of relief. Ferentz's contract makes him one of the highest paid coaches in college football, providing him with an annual salary of over $3 million.
That salary is also higher than three-fourths of the current NFL coaches.
But it isn't salary that keeps Ferentz away from the NFL. It's the love he has for his family, the love he has for coaching kids to their true potential, and the love he has for the state of Iowa that make him feel at home in the Hawkeye State.
Kirk and his wife, Mary, have five children together; their youngest is still in high school. Ferentz has stated in interviews that it would be a special and unique thing to have all of his children graduate from the same high school. Family is very important to Coach Ferentz, and Iowa provides his family with love and stability. That means more to him than money.
Ferentz is currently in his 11th season as Iowa's head coach, and has a 78-53 record. Under Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have played in seven bowl games since 2001, including five trips to January bowls. He has also earned a share of the Big Ten title twice, too (2002, 2004).
The trend of January bowl games will likely continue this year, and with any luck the Hawkeyes will earn another Big Ten title, as well.
Something magical is happening with the Hawkeyes this year, and its a magic that the NFL can't provide. Don't look for Kirk Ferentz to bolt for the NFL anytime soon, no matter what the "experts" say.
This article is also featured on IowaHawkeyes.Net , a blog dedicated to all that is Hawkeye.