Kirk Ferentz issues apology to reporters for commentary at Tuesday press conference

The head coach of the Iowa football team criticized reporter Doug Lesmerises during his weekly meeting with media.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz exits the field after a near seven hour football game between Iowa and Nevada at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolfpack, 27-0.

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz has issued an apology to reporters for comments he made about columnist Doug Lesmirses during a weekly press conference Tuesday at the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City.

Ferentz responded to a column written by Lesmerises following Iowa’s 54-10 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday. In his story, Lesmerises criticized Ferentz’s offense. He also examined the influence of nepotism within Ferentz’s program because the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator is Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz.

Lesmerises suggested Kirk Ferentz fire Brian Ferentz, adding that Iowa athletic director Gary Barta — who Brian Ferentz reports to and is evaluated by — will not dismiss the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator.

Before he published the column, Lesmerises asked Kirk Ferentz a series of questions after the Hawkeyes’ loss to the Buckeyes last Saturday in Columbus.

On Tuesday, Kirk Ferentz commented on his exchange with Lesmerises at Ohio Stadium and the column.

Ferentz’s answer came in response to a question about player-led leadership from The Des Moines Register’s Kennington Smith. Below is the full transcript of the question and answer provided by Iowa Athletics:

Smith: “Talked to you last Saturday, turnaround would be more player-led on the leadership of the team to kind of galvanize the group. How have you seen that manifest itself in the days following and how’s it trickled down to the younger players?”

Ferentz: “I complimented the guys on Sunday because, during the questioning, in some cases interrogation, on Saturday that I experienced, and the one good thing about that, it dawned on me coming home. I said, as bad as today was, it could have been worse because I could have been that guy. I could have been that guy. Had his job and had to act like he did.

“Yeah, it could be a hell of a lot worse. All things aren’t that bad. But one thing I did on Sunday was compliment our players, the way they handled it. It’s not easy to stand up to tough questions after a loss like we did. Our guys handled it with class. Stand up for each other. It’s worth complimenting our guys. I think it’s genuine, it’s who they are. And my experience, and we’ve been through two-loss streaks or three-loss streaks the last four years. We’ve experienced either two or three in all four of the seasons.

“The only way I know to come out of it is everybody just has to work hard, and it takes leadership, and takes ownership, and that’s coaches and players.

“And it just isn’t going to happen. If the coaches are the only ones invested, you’re out of luck. We’re fortunate four years in a row we’ve had good teams, good character teams. I felt good about these guys, felt good about the guys since we started in January. I can’t predict what’s going to happen record-wise moving forward, but I think we’ll keep pushing and keep working and that’s what we’re seeing at least right now is Tuesday afternoon, and we’ve been together three days now and the guys, they’re straight ahead. That’s what they should be.”

Reporters and fans alike took to Twitter to react to Ferentz’s commentary, including Lesmerises.

Kirk Ferentz’s apology was delivered to reporters Wednesday night:

“I had hoped to join the zoom [press conference with running backs coach Ladell Betts] this morning, but practice lasted longer than anticipated,” Ferentz wrote. “I wanted to take a moment to apologize for my comments during the news conference yesterday. I should not have been dismissive of one of your colleagues – his questions were fair. I have a high respect for the work that you do, and I am appreciative of how you cover our team. You ask tough and pointed questions but do so with a high degree of professionalism. I tell our players to take the high road and yesterday, I did not do the same thing.

“I look forward to seeing you on Saturday.”

In addition to the written apology, Ferentz further expressed his feelings during his weekly radio show at the Vue Rooftop Bar in downtown Iowa City:

Iowa will take on Northwestern at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes’ annual Homecoming game will air live on ESPN2.