Why coach Kirk Ferentz’s contract extension is a benefit for Iowa recruiting
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Boone Myers never looked at Kirk Ferentz’s contract when being recruited, but he knew one key detail.
There were eight years left on Ferentz’s contract. Even for a then-walk-on like Myers the length of the coaching deal was important.
“It affected my decision,” the Iowa junior guard said. “I’m sure it’s affecting a lot of other recruits’ decisions knowing that he’s going to be here a while and it’s going to be Iowa football. He is going to be around here.”
There was plenty to take away from the Ferentz contract extension through the 2025 season, which was released on Tuesday. Its biggest impact may come on the recruiting trail.
The contract was considered by a walk-on. It’s certainly getting noticed by scholarship players.
Ferentz entered the season opener with four years left on his existing deal. It doesn’t take much for things to flip in recruiting. Not calling a player by their name can be enough for a decommitment.
Opposing coaches will use nearly anything to try to gain an upper hand against another program. The length of a contract is one of the easiest tactics to use.
There are only four years left on the contract. The coach won’t be there when you graduate.
Now, it’s a concern Ferentz and his staff won’t need to address when chatting with a recruit.
“I feel like it should matter,” Iowa senior cornerback Greg Mabin said. “You are trusting the guy who recruited you to be there when you graduated.”
It was key for Mabin. It’s going to be a factor for recruits today, he said. He’s right. A kid wants to play his entire career for one coaching staff. A player commits as much to the people in the program as the logo on the jersey.
There is no certainty in college coaching. One bad season can turn a seemingly safe coach into one looking for a new job.
Players understand that. They also understand what it means when a six-year extension is tacked on to a deal with four years left. Iowa wants a coach who will be 70 when the new deal ends to retire a Hawkeye.
“You have a coach that is going to be there for a while so you know he’s good,” junior linebacker Josey Jewell said, “and I think that’s going to be really strong for the recruiting class and people coming in knowing the head coach is really good and they have a lot of good people around him. The desire is to have the coach stay there.”
Ferentz and his staff is a strong selling point. There is security and longevity in Iowa City. Ferentz is in his 18th year as the head coach.
A coaching contract and the fact a coach wants to stay in one location isn’t the only factor a recruit is going to consider. Others, like playing time or relationships with position coaches, can trump anything else.
But stability sells. Like Iowa’s play, it may not be sexy, but it can be effective.
“It’s nice to know that you have a coach that’s locked in for your time,” redshirt freshman defensive end Anthony Nelson said. “Obviously, that can always change. Coaching is a profession where that changes all the time. Just to know that the University of Iowa has that faith in coach Ferentz is a testament to how coach Ferentz runs and operates things.”
Recruiting was already going strong for Iowa. There are 16 players in the 2017 class. It’s ranked No. 22 nationally by 247sports. The Hawkeyes have found success in Texas. Illinois high school defensive end A.J. Epenesa has the look of a star. Texas cornerback Chevin Calloway and Texas running back Eno Benjamin are potential building blocks.
They didn’t need the contact extension to pick Iowa. It will only help the Hawkeyes as they round out this class — and beyond.
“Certainly any time you demonstrate stability,” Ferentz said, “I think that’s something that prospects and their families are attracted to, that’s usually a good.”
Iowa rediscovered its mojo last season. Twelve Wins. A Rose Bowl berth. The Hawkeyes entered the season as a favorite to make a second straight Big Ten championship game appearance.
The recent $55 million facility improvements has made that a strong selling point.
Iowa is in an excellent spot. Keeping residence here requires wins, player development and recruiting success.
“The foundation at Iowa,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said, “to be, to remain and be one of the top football programs in the country is well-set and well-established.”
Especially with the contract extension in place.