Ferentz at the 2010 Orange Bowl
|Annual salary||$4.5 million|
August 1, 1955 |
Royal Oak, Michigan
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1978–1979||Worcester Academy (OL/DC)|
|1993–1995||Cleveland Browns (OL)|
|1996–1998||Baltimore Ravens (OL)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|2 Big Ten (2002, 2004)
1 Big Ten West Division (2015)
|AP College Football COY (2002)
Walter Camp Coach of the Year (2002)
4× Big Ten Coach of the Year (2002, 2004, 2009, 2015)
Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award (2015)
Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year, Football Writers Association of America (2015)
Region 3 Coach of the Year (American Football Coaches Association) (2015)
Woody Hayes Coach of the Year (2015)
Kirk James Ferentz (born August 1, 1955) is the head football coach at the University of Iowa, a position he has held since the 1999 season. From 1990 to 1992, Ferentz was the head football coach at the University of Maine, where had a record of 12-21. He has also served as an assistant coach with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens of the National Football League (NFL). Ferentz played college football as a linebacker at the University of Connecticut from 1974 to 1976.
After playing football at Upper St. Clair High School near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ferentz played linebacker for the University of Connecticut. He was a football captain and an academic all-Yankee Conference linebacker at Connecticut. He served as a student assistant at Connecticut in 1977 and graduated in 1978. Ferentz spent his next two seasons as defensive coordinator at Worcester Academy, where he taught English literature. He then spent one season in 1980 as an assistant offensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh. That Panther team, coached by Jackie Sherrill, finished with an 11–1 record and a number two national ranking.
Ferentz was the offensive line coach at The University of Iowa under Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry for nine seasons, from 1981 to 1989. Eleven Hawkeyes coached by Ferentz went on to play in the NFL. Three of them were first round picks in the NFL draft, and five of his players were first team All-Big Ten selections. Six of those players played over 100 games in the NFL: OG Ron Hallstrom, OG Mark Bortz, OT Brett Miller, C Joel Hilgenberg, OT John Alt, and OG Bob Kratch. OG Mike Haight played in 63 games as well.
Ferentz left Iowa to coach at the University of Maine in 1990. After three seasons of coaching the Black Bears to a combined 12–21 record, he was named the offensive line coach of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Ferentz served under Bill Belichick in Cleveland and followed the franchise to Baltimore when they became the Baltimore Ravens.
Iowa head coaching career
On December 2, 1998, Ferentz was hired as Iowa's 26th head football coach to replace the retiring Hayden Fry. The team struggled during Ferentz's first two seasons with a combined 4–19 record, but the Hawkeyes earned their first bowl bid of the Ferentz era after a 7–5 season in 2001. They beat Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl, 19–16.
The 2002 season would prove to be memorable for Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. The team finished the regular season with an 11–1 record; its only loss coming to Iowa State. They shared the Big Ten Conference championship with Ohio State, as both teams finished 8–0 in conference play. Quarterback Brad Banks won the Davey O'Brien Award for best quarterback and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Carson Palmer of USC. Tight end Dallas Clark was that season's John Mackey Award winner, and placekicker Nate Kaeding was the Lou Groza Award winner. Ferentz was named Coach of the Year by the Associated Press for his efforts. Iowa received its first-ever BCS invitation, losing to USC in the 2003 Orange Bowl, 38–17.
Despite losing several seniors to graduation, the Hawkeyes compiled a 9–3 regular season record in 2003. They defeated Florida 37–17 in the Outback Bowl on January 1, 2004, for their first January win since 1959. This earned the Hawkeyes a #8 national ranking in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll at the end of the season. Offensive tackle Robert Gallery was that season's Outland Trophy winner; after the season, the Oakland Raiders chose him with the second overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft.
Ferentz had to deal with multiple injuries to the Hawkeyes' running backs and the death of his father, John, during the 2004 season. Nevertheless, the Hawkeyes compiled a 9–2 regular season record, sharing the Big Ten Conference championship with Michigan after a 30–7 victory over Wisconsin on November 20. For the second time in three seasons, Ferentz was named the Big Ten Conference Coach of the Year. On January 1, 2005, they defeated LSU, 30–25, after a thrilling 56-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Warren Holloway as time expired in the Capital One Bowl. This gave Ferentz his third straight ten-win season with the Hawkeyes and another #8 national ranking.
The Hawkeyes went 7–4 during the 2005 regular season. After early-season losses to Iowa State and Ohio State and close losses to Michigan and Northwestern, they finished the season with wins over Wisconsin and Minnesota to earn a second trip to the Outback Bowl to face Florida on January 2, 2006. This time, however, the Gators got a measure of revenge for their loss two years earlier, as the Hawkeyes lost to Florida, 31–24. Much was said about the officiating in this game, as there were 13 missed or bad calls made against the Hawkeyes that directly influenced the outcome. The NCAA made an official acknowledgment of this issue.
Iowa started the 2006 season strong, winning their first four games before losing to top-ranked Ohio State. After a 5–1 start, however, the Hawkeyes collapsed down the stretch, losing five of their last six games. Iowa suffered shocking losses to Northwestern and Indiana and lost rivalry games with Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Hawkeyes finished the regular season with a 6–6 record and accepted an invitation to the 2006 Alamo Bowl, Iowa's sixth straight bowl game. Playing as nine-point underdogs to defending national champions Texas, Iowa lost the Alamo Bowl by a score of 26–24.
In 2007, Ferentz' Hawkeyes started 2–4 and lost their first three conference games. An upset victory over Illinois ended a nine-game conference losing streak for Iowa, and the Hawkeyes closed out the Big Ten season by winning their last three conference games. However, a disappointing loss in the season finale to Western Michigan dropped the Hawkeyes' season record to 6–6. Though Iowa was bowl-eligible, the Hawkeyes did not receive a bowl bid, snapping Iowa's streak of six consecutive bowl appearances.
In 2008, Ferentz and the Hawkeyes started out strong with victories over his old team, Maine, Florida International, and rival Iowa State, but close losses to Pitt, Northwestern, and Michigan State left Iowa with a 3–3 record. Iowa then went on to win five of their next six games, including a 24–23 upset of #3 ranked and undefeated Penn State. After finishing the regular season at 8–4, Iowa accepted an invitation to the Outback Bowl where they defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks, 31–10.
The 2009 Hawkeye football team got off to the best start in school history up to that point. Narrow home victories over Northern Iowa and Arkansas State coupled with double digit road wins over Penn State and Wisconsin fueled a 7–0 start. Ferentz' 2009 Hawks became the first Iowa team to win eight games to start a season by winning at Michigan State, 15–13, with a touchdown pass on the final play of the game. After defeating Indiana to run their record to 9–0, the Hawks lost quarterback Ricky Stanzi to injury in an upset loss to Northwestern. Iowa then lost the de facto Big Ten championship game at Ohio State, 27–24, in overtime. The Hawkeyes shut out Minnesota, 12–0, to finish the regular season with a 10–2 record and were selected for their second BCS bowl game under Ferentz by being invited to the 2010 Orange Bowl. Iowa defeated Georgia Tech, 24–14, to earn the school's first BCS bowl win and their first victory in a BCS-level bowl since the 1959 Rose Bowl. Iowa finished with an 11–2 record that tied the school record for victories in a season and the Hawkeyes earned #7 rankings in both the AP Poll and Coaches Poll, their highest finish since the 1960 season.
Following three mediocre seasons in which Iowa went just a combined 19-19, the 2015 season proved to be one of the best in university history. Iowa went undefeated in the regular season and recorded 12 wins, the most in school history. Additionally, a team that went 0-4 in trophy games the year before, went 4-0 and won the Big Ten Conference West championship, the first in school history. Ferentz was also named Big Ten coach of the year for the fourth time while at Iowa. The Hawkeyes fell 16-13 in the 2015 Big Ten Football Championship Game against Michigan State despite numerous referee mistakes that benefited Michigan State. Despite the loss, the Hawkeyes accepted an invitation to the 2016 Rose Bowl, Ferentz's third Rose Bowl with Iowa, first as head coach, and it marks the first trip to Pasadena for the Hawkeyes in 25 years.
In 2016, Iowa suffered numerous injuries which derailed them in the earlier part of the season. However, they finished strong beating #3 Michigan, and prevailed over #16 Nebraska, finishing with an 8-4 record. The Iowa offensive line was awarded the Joe Moore Award. This award was especially significant because Moore was a lifelong mentor to Ferentz, and the team had to overcome a great deal to win it. Iowa was selected to play in the Outback Bowl for the fifth time under Ferentz, where they lost to the Florida Gators.
As of October 2016, Ferentz is 12-6 versus Big Ten rival Minnesota and 9-9 versus in-state rival Iowa State, though his predecessor went 16-4 against their in-state rival. He also has a winning record against every Big Ten team that has been in the league before 2012 except for Ohio State. Ferentz notched his 100th career win at Iowa with a double-overtime victory over the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing on October 13, 2012. He is the second-winningest coach in school history, and has led Iowa to 14 bowl games. When Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State in 2011 Ferentz became the dean of Big Ten football coaches, as the longest tenured coach in the respective sport. With the retirement of Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer after the 2015 season, Ferentz became tied with Bob Stoops for the longest tenured head coach at the FBS level.
Professional football opportunities
Several major college and NFL teams have considered Ferentz as a candidate for their head coaching jobs. However, Ferentz has publicly declined any interest in other coaching positions, opting to stay at Iowa. On February 12, 2009, Ferentz and Iowa athletics director Gary Barta agreed to a new contract extension that keeps Ferentz at Iowa until 2020.
On January 2, 2002 the head coaches of five NFL teams, Green Bay, St. Louis, Houston, New Orleans, and Minnesota, were fired. There was renewed speculation that Ferentz would be offered a head coaching job with one of those professional franchises. But such speculation was soon put to rest when Ferentz stated that he was still happy with his job at Iowa, and that he had no plans to leave.
On June 2, 2006, Ferentz became the highest paid coach in the Big Ten and third highest in college football when he was given a restructured contract that boosted his annual salary to $2.7 million.
Following the 2006 NFL season, rumors circulated that Ferentz may have been in consideration for the Pittsburgh Steelers' head coaching job after Bill Cowher stepped down. However, before Cowher's departure, Ferentz was asked about his possible interest in the position, and stated: "I know that staff pretty well and they've got some good guys in that building. My guess is that's where they would go. But I’m not interested, and I doubt they are, either. I’ve got a great job right here." The Steelers job eventually went to Mike Tomlin.
In January 2009, rumors surfaced citing Ferentz as a potential candidate to be hired as head coach in place of Herman Edwards soon after the hiring of former New England Patriots VP of Player Personnel Scott Pioli as the new GM of the Kansas City Chiefs. However, the Chiefs eventually hired Todd Haley, and Ferentz received a contract extension to remain at Iowa through 2020. In December 2011, rumors again surfaced citing Ferentz as a potential candidate to replace Haley. Similar rumors surfaced a year later in December 2012. Ferentz has said that there was no reason to leave Iowa as Iowa has everything he needed.
Kirk and his wife, Mary, have five children: Brian, Kelly, Joanne, James, and Steven. Brian was a starting offensive lineman on the 2005 Iowa football team, a practice squad player for the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints. Since the 2012 season, Brian has served as the offensive line coach for Iowa. In January 2017, Brian was named the offensive coordinator.  From 2008 – 2011, Brian was a coach for the New England Patriots, including one record-breaking season as Tight Ends Coach. James was a second team All-Big Ten center in 2012. Additionally, James became a Super Bowl Champion with the Denver Broncos following the 2015 season. Kelly earned her JD and MHA degrees from Iowa in 2010–11 and Joanne earned her bachelor's degree from Iowa in 2010. Steven is expected to graduate in 2017 and is a member of the football team.
Assistants under Kirk Ferentz who have become NCAA or NFL head coaches:
- John Bonamego: Central Michigan (2015–present)
- Jack Cosgrove: Maine (1993–2015)
- Bobby Wilder: Old Dominion (2007–present)
- Joe Philbin: Miami Dolphins (2012-2015)
- Bret Bielema: Wisconsin Badgers (2006-2012) and Arkansas Razorbacks (2013-present)
- Chuck Long: San Diego State Aztecs (2006-2008)
Head coaching record
|Maine Black Bears (Yankee Conference) (1990–1992)|
|Iowa Hawkeyes (Big Ten Conference) (1999–present)|
|2004||Iowa||10–2||7–1||T–1st||W Capital One||8||8|
|2011||Iowa||7–6||4–4||4th (Legends)||L Insight|
|2013||Iowa||8–5||5–3||T–2nd (Legends)||L Outback|
|2014||Iowa||7–6||4–4||4th (West)||L TaxSlayer|
|2015||Iowa||12–2||8–0||1st (West)||L Rose†||10||9|
|2016||Iowa||8–5||6–3||T–2nd (West)||L Outback|
|National championship Conference title Conference division title|
|†Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.
#Rankings from final Coaches Poll.
°Rankings from final AP Poll.
- "Ferentz to follow Fry" (PDF). The Daily Iowan. December 3, 1998. Retrieved November 29, 2015.
- "Iowa in the Polls". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- Mike Hlas (2014-03-30). "Kirk Ferentz's agent: At the top of his game". The Gazette. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- Kirk Ferentz gets contract extension from Iowa Hawkeyes – ESPN. Sports.espn.go.com (2009-02-12). Retrieved on 2012-04-22.
- Topic: Article by Hlas posted by Thaihawk on Time for a change part 2.. Hawk Central (2010-11-13). Retrieved on 2012-04-22.
- Ferentz becomes one of highest paid coaches. Nbcsports.msnbc.com (2006-06-02). Retrieved on 2012-04-22.
- San Antonio Express-News[dead link]
- Borges, Ron (2008-12-30). "Browns push for Scott Pioli would include Kirk Ferentz". Boston Herald.
- Iowa hires Ferentz, Woods as assistants. wcfcourier.com. February 18, 2012
- Brian Ferentz Football Journey, Boston Globe, February 4, 2011
- Biggs. "Iowa lineman James Ferentz will be in Chicago Bears minicamp". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2013-05-12.
- . Hawkeyesports.collegesports.com. Retrieved on 2012-04-22.
- "2015 NCAAF Coaches Salaries". USAToday. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- "Database: State of Iowa employee salaries". The Des Moines Register. Retrieved December 9, 2015.
- Jordan, Erin (November 3, 2015). "University of Iowa coaches, surgeons again top state pay list: More than 60,000 state employees in fiscal 2015". The Gazette. Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Retrieved December 9, 2015.