Emotional. That word kept coming up yesterday to describe Hawkeyes Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.
Ferentz was emotional on the sidelines after the win over NIU in September (a win that made him the winningest coach in Iowa history). He was also said to be emotional after the team gave him the game ball following a victory over Illinois (his 150th in the Big Ten) in November. Ferentz was said to be "emotional" before yesterday's game and as Outback Bowl MVP Nick Easley tried to explain how grateful he was to have Ferentz as a coach, they both fought back tears.
There are football coaches who view the young men they coach as a commodity. Capital that is to be expended to promote their career goals. Then there are coaches like Kirk Ferentz. His players love him because he values them. Easley's post game comments say it all,“I don’t think there’s a better coach in the entire nation and I’m just talking giving everyone a chance, treating everyone fairly and with respect. I’m so glad I got to play for him.”
This season's emotional displays on the sidelines and in the locker room are a an upgrade to a coach who has consistently displayed genuine class. I can't remember ever hearing about them before this year. Perhaps they've always been there and we're just now gaining access.
Is a 9-4 season disappointing? Kinda. But Kirk Ferentz is a difficult guy to be disappointed in. Records are what they are. No one has won more games at the helm of this team. Few coaches around the country, on or off the football field are his equal.