James Franklin speaks on Kirk Ferentz’s success

James Franklin was asked about Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz during the annual media days in Chicago, and he described his respect for the 20-year coach and his program.


Nick Rohlman

Penn State Head Coach James Franklin addresses the media during Big Ten Football Media Days in Chicago on Monday, July 23, 2018. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz is one win away from setting the school record for wins in a Hawkeye career. A victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 1 would give him 144.

There are only four Big Ten coaches with more wins than Ferentz: Amos Alonzo Stagg, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, and Joe Paterno. All are in the College Football Hall of Fame.

So when Penn State head coach James Franklin was asked about Ferentz and his success, he credited the 20-year head coach with the program’s stability and competitiveness.

“We’re at a point in our game and society a little bit ​— everybody’s looking for the quick fix. When things don’t go well for a game or a year or so, people overreact,” Franklin said. “I think the Big Ten in general, specifically Iowa and specifically Coach Ferentz, what he’s been able to do there has been fantastic.”

Franklin said that in his eyes, a successful football program needs support in all areas — something he sees in Ferentz.

“Kirk deserves a lot of credit, his staff deserves a lot of credit, obviously, the player deserve most of the credit,” Franklin said. “But on top of that, it’s the whole community. I think that’s what’s special about Penn State and a lot of the schools in the Big Ten and, really, college football in general. The best programs, you have to do it together. That’s the fans, that’s the community, that’s the president, that’s the AD, that’s the board. The only way to have success at the very highest levels is everybody has to be on the same page. Everybody’s got to be pulling the rope in the same direction, and obviously Iowa’s been doing that with Coach Ferentz for a long time, probably as good as anybody.”

Franklin made his first trip to Iowa City last season. For Hawkeye fans, that game stands as a what-if; Iowa led then-No. 4 Penn State until the final play of the game. As time expired, quarterback Trace McSorley fired a pass just over the fingertips of an Iowa defender and into the arms of Juwan Johnson for the game-winning strike.

Penn State walked away with a 21-19 victory, but for Franklin, he got to experience an electric Kinnick atmosphere for the first time in his coaching career.

“For me, being able to go experience Iowa for the first time last year in person, that’s a tough place to play,” he said. “You look at their record against top-five opponents at home. What they did after our game to some opponents, how we were fortunate enough to get out of there with a big win.

“For me, I look at that game a little bit like our Rose Bowl game. I went all over the country after the Rose Bowl game, and everybody’s telling me what a great game the Rose Bowl game was. I didn’t think it was so great, could have been better. But for a fan, I guess, it was great, and probably the same way with Iowa. We were fortunate to get out of that game with a win. Unbelievable game for college football and our conference. But that’s a tough place to play.”

This season, Iowa and Penn State clash again, but instead of the friendly confines of Kinnick, the Hawkeyes will travel to University Park, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 27.

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