2013 Record: 4-2, 1-1 Big Ten. Tied for third in Legends Division.
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz, 15th year at Iowa. 104-76 overall.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz, who currently earns $3.86 million per year and is the highest-paid state employee in Iowa, hasn’t been earning his keep the past few seasons.
After three years of coaching the offensive line under head coach Ted Marchibroda for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, Ferentz accepted the Iowa job after legendary head coach Hayden Fry retired at the end of the 1998 season.
Ferentz inherited a team that won only three games in 1998, but the Hawkeyes could muster just one victory in his first season. But Iowa gradually improved each year by winning three games in 2000, and seven the next season.
In 2002, Ferentz guided the Hawkeyes to an 11-2 record, a co-Big Ten championship and a BCS bowl berth. In 2003, Iowa was 10-3, and the next season, the Hawkeyes were once again 11-2 with a another share of the Big Ten title in 2004. In three seasons from 2002-2004, the Hawkeyes had an overall record of 31-7 with two conference titles.
But from 2005-2008, Iowa was just 28-22 overall, 16-16 in the Big Ten, and never finished better than tied for third in the conference with three non-BCS bowl berths under Ferentz.
But in 2009, Iowa went 11-2 and finished tied for second in the Big Ten, which earned the Hawkeyes a date against Georgia Tech in the FedEx Orange Bowl, won by Iowa, 24-14.
Following that season on Feb. 1, 2010, Iowa’s athletic director Gary Barta upped the ante and gave Ferenez a new 10-year, $39 million deal.
But things have gotten progressively worse in Iowa City for Ferentz as the Hawks went 8-5 in 2010, won only seven of 13 contests the following year, and in 2012 after winning four of the first six games, then dropped six-straight to finish 4-8 while failing to get a bowl invite for the first time since 2007.
And that script is continuing for the Hawkeyes under Ferentz again this season as Iowa is also 4-2 to start the 2013 campaign. Can Ferentz right the ship and get his team bowl-eligible at the very least? Iowa has five very tough games left with six to go. After taking on Ohio State in Columbus, Iowa hosts Northwestern and Wisconsin, travels to Purdue, is home vs. Michigan, and then its on the road at Nebraska to conclude the regular season. It’s likely that the only game the Hawkeyes will be favored the rest of the season is the Purdue game on Nov. 9. It’s also likely that Iowa finishes 5-7.
Barring any NCAA violations or anything else that involves dishonesty, moral turpitude, conflict of interest, or conviction of any law, Ferentz is pretty much unfireable. While the University could fire him without cause, Ferentz would still be owed a sum equal to 75 percent of the annual guaranteed amount as a buyout.
That’s a lot of cheddar if Iowa wants to fire its head coach.
One week before the start of the season, Ferentz named sophomore Jake Rudock his starting quarterback, beating out junior college transfer Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard for the job.
Though Rudock never took a snap in college prior to the season-opener against Northern Illinois, he was considered a safe choice, someone with a decent arm who knows the offense.
Through six games, Rudock is 105-of-174 (60.3%) passing for 1,208 yards with eight touchdowns and six interceptions.
Iowa’s top running backs from 2012 returned with juniors Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock. So far in 2013, Weisman has gained 624 yards on 126 carries (5.0 ypc) with three touchdowns, while Bullock has toted the rock 65 times for 256 yards (3.9 ypc) and one TD. Bullock is also the Hawkeyes’ second-leading receiver with 13 catches for 113 yards and another score. But Rudock’s favorite target by far is junior wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley, who has twice as many receptions as Bullock with 26 for 225 yards and a score.
Senior weakside linebacker Anthony Hitchens leads the Hawkeyes in total tackles (59) and tackles for loss (5.5). Senior middle linebacker James Morris is second on the team in total tackles (43), and tops the squad with three interceptions. Senior DE Dominic Alvis leads Iowa in sacks (2.0).
Senior place-kicker Mike Meyer is 8-of-11 in field goals so far this season, including a season-long 50-yard FG against Michigan State. On kickoffs, Meyer has 17 touchbacks in 35 chances.
Sophomore punter Connor Kornbrath is averaging 39.8 yards per boot with 14 of his 31 kicks landing inside the 20.
Martin-Manley leads the Big Ten averaging 25.8 yards per punt return with two touchdowns, while senior kick returner Jordan Cotton averages 21.8 yards in nine attempts.