Shots Fired: Ferentz Among Five Worst

Stewart Mandel is a columnist for Sports Illustrated’s website. Columnists write opinions for a living. Not everyone agrees with someone when they give their opinion.

As it relates to Stewart Mandel’s current opinion on Kirk Ferentz, I don’t agree with it. I am also reminded of the old saying that I can pick on my brother but if you lay a finger on him, I’m coming for you.

Mandel wrote a column on Monday that listed his ten best coaches and five worst coaches in college football. Ferentz was among his five worst, and of him he wrote:

“The 2009 Orange Bowl proved an aberration in Ferentz’s otherwise unimpressive recent tenure. Take away that one 11-2 season and the Hawkeyes are 47-41 since 2005 under their $3.6 million-per-year coach.”

Look, nobody who bleeds black and gold liked iowa’s 4-8 season one year ago. I have been as critical of Ferentz over the course of the last six to eight months as I have been during his tenure at Iowa, but to say the man is one of the five worst coaches in college football is simply ignorant.

I have fun with numbers all of the time and you can carve ’em up to fit your premise. Mandel has a flawed premise here. If he wanted to have a list of the five most overpaid college football coaches and included Ferentz in his Top Five, I’d still find a bone to pick with that but I’d be on the losing side of the argument if we talked strictly wins and losses.

To the sampled quote above…add the 11-2 back into the record and Iowa is 58-43 since 2005. That’s not elite, but it’s not five worst. Heck, 47-41 isn’t five worst, either. Let’s play Mandel’s game; take away last year’s 4-8 record and Iowa is 54-35 since 2005. That’s a winning percentage of 60.67 and here is a list of programs who had a winning percentage less than that between 2005-2011:

Michigan State
Notre Dame
Miami (FL)
Florida State
Texas A&M
Kansas State

The only reason Ferentz is on that list is his salary. That’s it. He’s not one of the worst five coaches in the sport and putting him on the list is either being plain silly or trolling Iowa fans who have one of the most rabid online fanbases in the nation. Oh wait, here was Mandel’s reply after tweeting his story:

Like I said, see the salary. Mandel is not alone and some Iowa fans feel the same way. Most of the negative calls I’ve taken while hosting Soundoff the past three years has surrounded Ferentz’s contract. I heard those same calls in 2007 (Hello, Larry from Bondurant). Since getting the big money deal, that’s the go to gripe for some folks, even though I could write something that supports Kirk’s contract even with a .500 record the past few years…I just don’t have the desire to start fighting that fight in July.

Here’s another ‘reach’ for Mandel. He wrote the following early in his item:

“Before I get into my list, it’s necessary to revisit the methodology behind these admittedly subjective rankings. Please note that they represent the best and worst coaches right now. They are not career achievement awards. Picture an inverted triangle, with the most recent season on the top line (the widest), the 2011 season below that, and so on.”

Wait…it’s an article about right now, yet Mandel, when writing about Ferentz, cited a W-L record back to 2005 that also takes away Kirk’s 11-2 record in 2009…and I’m supposed to not laugh out loud at that?

To top it all off, Mandel linked a story he wrote a few years back (2006) citing Ferentz as one of the best coaches in the country. He used that as a defense against Iowa fans outrage:

It’s not amazing, Stewart. It just means you were way off in 2006 or you are way off now….or perhaps you were way off in both instances. Hey, that sounds right. Let’s end it there.


Found these tweets interesting as they came in after I posted my item Monday night:

And then this one…sad but (some) true

  • realbbbb

    Terrible article. First, it lists a bunch of schools that had a winning % < Iowa's from 2005-2011. As if to say, hey look these schools performed just as well as Iowa did during the last 7 years (technically 7 of the previous 8 years) so Iowa's record wasn't so bad. Ok, great. Notice that every single one of those schools made a coaching change (sometimes multiple) during that period…..except for Iowa. So listing all these schools with comparable results (in terms of Winning %) doesn't really help your argument when all those other schools made coaching changes because they weren't satisfied with those results.
    Second, why did you use 2005-2011. If you were going to add in 2005, why did you remove 2012. This is cherry-picking at best and intentional dishonesty at worst. If you look at 2005-2011, then you would have a good marker where Ferentz stood going into last year if Mandel had published such an article. But we're living in 2013 not 2012. So looking at 2005-2011 results is absolutely useless. I think the author is trying to make the point that last year was just an aberration and it is dragging down the overall record, but who knows.
    Third,is Ferentz one of the five worst coaches in CFB when it comes to just coaching, X's & O's, etc (i.e. disregarding salary)? Probably not. I'm sure one could find plenty of MAC, MWC, Sun Belt etc coaches who are worst than him. But the salary needs to be included. He's paid as a top-10 coach yet isn't delivering top 10 (nationwide) results. That's bad. Shockingly bad.

    • CarefulReader

      Jon stated clearly why he took away 2012 “Let’s play Mandel’s game; take away last year’s 4-8 record and ….”

    • greg

      Good luck finding adequate sample size since almost every school has had a coaching change over the last 7 years. Also tired of all the people who are so focused on how much other people make. If people took half of the energy they spend complaining about that and applied it to work, school, family, everybody would be making more and would be much happier. BTW if you amortize a normal tenured coaches pay over the entire career (including horrible low paying years in the beginning and no paying years after getting fired) you would have a more “normalized” annual salary (although admittedly still more than an average person but there are very few coaching spots at this level). Factor in the fact that the guy works 12 hours a day and can’t go to dinner without being harassed by fans. $3.6M sounds about right to me…and oh bye the way Uncle Sam takes a huge chunk of that anyway for doing nothing. More perspective – Tiger Woods made $78.1M in 2013 for hitting a small white ball into a hole with a metal stick.

      • Grady

        Tiger Woods is not a public employee.

        • HNStaff

          Geesh. The Football program doesn’t draw a penny of public funds.

          • onesimus71

            The University draws millions in public funds. It’s called student aid. Public universities live on public funds. No public funds, no football team. No football team, no “private donations.”

  • louie

    he’s one of the 5 worst in-game coaches.overall coaching you can’t say that,because he develops players as good as anybody in the country.

  • kp

    I notice Mandel has Pat Fitzgerald at NW on the verge of best list. Oddly enough, applying his same standard of looking back and throwing out the best year, Pat has won 3 fewer games than Ferentz against similar opponents. I actually agree Fitzgerald is an excellent coach, but it shows Mandel’s logic really is nothing more than 4 wins wasn’t very good last year. Hardly an impressive article.

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