It seems like it has become an annual ritual. Where is Kirk Ferentz headed this year? In 2009, given that the ax has now officially fallen on Charlie Weis, the smart money appears to be on Ferentz leaving Iowa City for greener pastures in South Bend, Indiana.
Please allow me to enlighten everyone that will listen. Ferentz will not be leaving Iowa for Notre Dame. Coach Ferentz has a multitude of reasons for staying put.
First off, Ferentz has told anyone that will listen that he is very happy at Iowa. Why people refuse to believe him is beyond me.
Ferentz signed a contract extension over the summer of 2009 that runs through the 2015 season. Thus, whoever would want to lure Ferentz away from Iowa City would likely need to pay a hefty sum to buyout the remaining years on Ferentz’s contract with Iowa.
All of his children were born in Iowa City. His son, James is currently a red shirt freshmen on the team and I’m sure that Ferentz would like to have the opportunity to coach James the next few years, just as he did with his son Brian, a few years ago.
Ferentz’s youngest son is a sophomore in high school at City High in Iowa City. I just can’t imagine that he will uproot his family at this stage in their lives when he seems very comfortable in Iowa City.
Oh, but Notre Dame could throw gobs of money at Ferentz you say? While that might be true, Ferentz already makes a healthy salary. He is the highest paid state employee in the state of Iowa and pulls in nearly $3 million a year. It is doubtful that even Notre Dame could up the ante too much more than that.
Not only that, but Ferentz has use of a private jet for personal use as part of his current contract. This unusual perk clearly demonstrates that the Iowa administration knows exactly what they have in Ferentz and they are willing to go the extra mile and do whatever it takes, just to keep Ferentz in Iowa City.
Still need more convincing? Take a good look at the current state of the Iowa program vs. the Notre Dame program.
Iowa expects to return as many as 18 of 22 starters to a team that posted a 10-2 record, including starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who will be a senior in 2010. The starting running back duo of Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher were both freshmen this year. The future is very bright for the Hawkeyes.
Notre Dame posted a 6-6 record against a historically weak schedule and likely will lose at least their two best offensive players to the NFL and their defense had a hard time stopping anyone this year. Whoever takes the Notre Dame job could be in for some serious rebuilding.
Granted, Iowa is Iowa as far as recruiting goes. Notre Dame would offer certain recruiting advantages. But, the scrutiny that goes with being Notre Dame’s head football coach isn’t something that Ferentz would relish.
The wild card in the Ferentz to Notre Dame rumor mill happens to be former Irish offensive line coach under Lou Holtz, the late Joe Moore. Moore achieved legendary status for coaching offensive line prospects in the 1980s and 90s at Notre Dame. In Moore’s nine years at Notre Dame, every starting offensive lineman he coached moved on to the National Football League.
Moore was unceremoniously relieved of his duties after Bob Davie took over the program. Moore subsequently filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Notre Dame and eventually won.
What does this have to do with Ferentz? Moore just happens to be Ferentz’s high school football coach back at Upper St. Clair High School near Pittsburgh. Ferentz also worked extensively with Moore when he was a graduate assistant coach at Pittsburgh in 1980. In fact, Ferentz considers Moore to be as big an influence on his life and coaching career as anyone out there.
Ferentz had this to say about Moore in September 2009:
“When I played for him as a senior in high school, I was 17. In 1980, I worked with him at Pitt. I spent 90 percent of my awake hours with him for a yearlong period there. He was a mentor and also a very close friend of mine up until his death.”
Ferentz undoubtedly still harbors negative feelings towards Notre Dame related to the treatment Moore received on his way out the door. Loyalty is a very important quality to Ferentz. To underscore this thought, he has had the same offensive and defense coordinators since he began his head coaching duties at Iowa 11 years ago.
Why, then would Ferentz entertain returning to the school that treated his beloved mentor so poorly?
Ferentz to Notre Dame makes for some nice headlines, no doubt. But, when any logical person looks at this situation from afar, there is very little reason to think that Ferentz would even remotely consider the head coaching position at Notre Dame, given everything he has going for himself and his family at Iowa.