Iowa Legislature Honors Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, Hawkeyes

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Iowa Legislature Honors Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, Hawkeyes
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The state of Iowa takes its college football seriously.

As proof, the Iowa House and Senate passed joint resolutions to honor University of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and the 2010 Iowa Hawkeyes. The team was honored for being one of the most "entertaining, talented and successful teams in Hawkeye history."

Coach Ferentz accepted the honor in typical Ferentz fashion. 

"We are very, very appreciative of being recognized," he expressed to the legislators.

"I've moved around, been around to different parts of the country. I've been involved in other programs, coached in the National Football League. The one thing that has always struck me about being [in] Iowa is the support we receive is so unique, the interest and support is just absolutely phenomenal.

"It shows up in terms of the Kinnick crowds, when we go on the road, the great group that were down in Miami for the Orange Bowl. Those are things we are very, very appreciative of, and if we can pay back to the state in any way by performing well in the field, by having a team that people can be proud of, that’s really our goal."

The Hawkeyes went 11-2 last season, winning their first Bowl Championship Series game along the way. It was their biggest bowl victory since Iowa's 1959 win over California in the Rose Bowl.

During his speech, Ferentz took the opportunity to remind senators and representatives that it wasn't just the performance on the field that should be honored.

"As proud as we are of our team on the field, we are more proud of the kind of people they are and what they choose to do away from our building," reminded the coach.

It was a great point to make, considering that a few weeks ago Iowa Rep. Wayne Ford of Des Moines tried to initiate the Legislative Oversight Committee to conduct meetings with the Board of Regents to discuss the problem of student-athlete arrests.

In a letter to the Iowa Speaker of the House in February, Rep. Ford suggested the universities in Iowa still had a major problem with player arrests and that regents needed to "meet with the committee so we can discuss this problem and make sure they take action."

He used the recent guilty plea by Iowa player Adrian Clayborn in an assault case for his reasoning to conduct the meetings.

"I only wish Adrian Clayborn well in life.  But as a Legislator, I believe we have a responsibility to train our students to not only be winning athletes but also good citizens," declared Rep. Ford.

The representative's opinion is ironic, considering he is a self-admitted juvenile delinquent who got a second chance in life because of football. Not to mention, the Clayborn case is rumored to have racial undertones involved, issues Rep. Ford has experience with as the founder or Urban Dreams.

Those factors aside, if Rep. Ford had an issue with the University's handling of the Clayborn incident, or the coach's discipline of a player, he missed a prime opportunity to address it head-on.

Iowa Senator Michael Gronstal and Iowa Representative Kevin McCarthy asked for and received unanimous consent to take up consideration of Senate Resolution 108 and House Resolution 122, resolutions to congratulate the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Clayborn's name is referenced multiple times in both resolutions in a congratulatory tone. 

If Rep. Ford had an issue with the fact that Clayborn was allowed to play in the Orange Bowl, why did he not oppose the passing of this resolution?  He could have used the opportunity to have his opinion heard by the coach in person and on the floor of the Iowa Senate. 

Legislative records suggest he was in attendance that day, as his voting record shows he voted in opposition of a bill the same day the resolution passed.

Did Rep. Ford have a change of heart? Or did he keep quiet, knowing that badmouthing a beloved head coach would hinder his re-election chances?

Whatever the case may be, Ferentz's speech concluded with a standing ovation from all Iowa senators and representatives in attendance, showing their respect for the outstanding performance of the 2009 Iowa Hawkeyes.

For once, the politicians got it right.

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