Kirk Ferentz Is Just Plain Ornery
Let it be said, however, that the man is now responsible for not one but two of the cockiest decisions I've ever seen a head coach make. The first happened four years ago, when he took an intentional safety against Penn State, effectively telling Joe Paterno "You're not going to get the ball in field goal range." Ferentz put the Hawkeyes' fate on the backs of his defense, and they responded. They picked off Michael Robinson on the very first play.
The second happened in today's Iowa-Indiana game. It's hardly a secret that Ferentz has been on every hot-seat list from coast to coast and in all four corners of the Internet. Iowa fans in the know, however, have been aiming the poison arrows at Ken O'Keefe, Ferentz's offensive coordinator and long-time friend. (O'Keefe gave Ferentz his first job in coaching, at a Connecticut prep school.) Ferentz has heard his critics, and today he answered them.
The situation: With around three minutes to play, Iowa was up 38-9 and facing 4th and 5 on the Indiana 25. Now, Iowa's been on both the right and wrong sides of improbable last-minute comebacks, but being up by four scores with three minutes left is generally considered a safe lead. Normal protocol in these circumstances dictates that you try the field goal.
Ferentz went for the first down instead. The Hawkeyes converted on an 11-yard pass from Jake Christensen (Iowa's second-string quarterback) to Marvin McNutt (Iowa's third-string quarterback). Four plays later, Jewel Hampton punched it in from the 1 to make it 45-9. It was Hampton's third touchdown of the day.
Call it what you will. You can say Ferentz ran up the score on the Hoosiers. You can say that he was trying to build confidence in an offense that needed more confidence. You can say that he wanted to show his critics that Iowa's offense is indeed capable of converting tough plays. You can say that he wanted to show those same critics that Iowa's playbook has more than three pages. You can say all four of those things and not be wrong about any of them.
One more thing you can say: For one week, nobody gets to talk crap about the Iowa offense. With the Hawkeyes headed into a home game with Wisconsin next week, that's what Kirk Ferentz needed the most, and he got it.
Mister Rogers would've kicked the field goal, however. If I rooted for IU, I'd be ticked.