CLINTON — Kirk Ferentz has joined fans in labeling his team’s 2012 season “disappointing.” The Hawkeyes — 4-8 last year — lost six straight to finish near the bottom of the Big Ten Conference, missing bowl season for the first time in five seasons. On Wednesday, he said winter felt “a lot like the ‘07 season.”
“In my mind, we sat there at the end of the season and we’re 4-8,” Ferentz told Clinton County I-Club members at their annual banquet at Wild Rose Casino. “There’s really nothing much you can say about it other than you need to go back to work.”
Ferentz talked about his team’s spring game, quarterback competition, new conference alignments (how it’s “easier for a coach like me to grasp”) and joked about radio personality Gary Dolphin’s views on the season. His speech constantly circled back to the direction of the team.
His team returned from an unwanted lengthy winter break in good shape, according to the coach. Ferentz added that they’ll return for the 2013 season a “more veteran, more physical team.”
“I told my players the past is the past, first and foremost,” Ferentz said. “Things do happen. Players do improve, and that’s really going to be at the core of what we’re focussed on and what happens to us next year.”
And while Iowa spent the past six months analyzing how to exchange losses with wins, changes around Hawkeye nation took place.
The conference added two new teams (Rutgers and Maryland) and abandoned the confusing (Leaders and Legends) divisions in favor of an East and a West. Iowa will play in the West Division that features Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue. Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana make up the East.
“There’s a lot of talk right now about Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan (in the East),” Ferentz said. He added that doesn’t increase Iowa’s chances of securing a conference title. “The facts are that Wisconsin’s two-for-two in the new setup.”