The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz talks offensive line, transfer portal, gambling investigation

Ferentz addressed reporters during day one of Big Ten Football Media Days in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz looks onto the field during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at SHI Stadium in Piscataway, N.J. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights 27-10.

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz participated in day one of Big Ten Football Media Days at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Wednesday morning.

Ferentz said he is excited to learn more about his squad in the next month and get them “game ready.”

The Hawkeyes will begin practice next week. Iowa’s annual “Kids’ Day at Kinnick” will be on Saturday, Aug. 12, at noon, and is free and open to the public.

Iowa will open up the season at home against Utah State on Sep. 2 at 11 a.m.

“It’s a new start, and it’s a new team,” Ferentz said. “We’re really happy that our guys have put a lot of quality work in. We’ve got a good foundation going.”

Offensive line growth

Iowa has been known for developing low-rated recruits into highly successful NFL offensive linemen.

But in the last two seasons, the offensive line has put up some of the worst numbers in program history.

The Hawkeyes rushed 3.4 yards per carry and 123.8 yards per game in 2021.

With four offensive linemen making their first career starts in 2022 — Logan Jones, Beau Stephens, Gennings Dunker, and Tyler Elsbury — those numbers decreased to 2.9 yards per carry and 94.9 yards per game.

But Ferentz doesn’t believe this downward trend will continue in 2023.

“The most significant change on our team will be the maturity in the offensive line,” Ferentz said.

Iowa returns several starters along with the additions of graduate transfers Daijon Parker and Rusty Feth.

Parker missed most of spring practice with a meniscus injury but is now healthy and will add much-needed experience up front. Feth started 34 career games at Miami (Ohio) and was coached for two seasons by Iowa’s current offensive line coach George Barnett while with the RedHawks.

“We’ll have a chance to play at the level that is usually our standard,” Ferentz said.

Transfer portal additions 

The longest-tenured head coach in FBS hasn’t been an avid user of the transfer portal in the past. But in this new era of college football, Ferentz has had to step outside of his comfort zone to stay in championship contention.

Since the transfer portal was established in October 2018, the Hawkeyes had brought aboard just nine transfers across the 2019-22 recruiting classes.

That number was almost matched this offseason as the Hawkeyes added eight transfers, including quarterback Cade McNamara and tight end Erick All from Michigan, wide receiver Kaleb Brown from Ohio State, and linebacker Nick Jackson from Virginia.

McNamara has been praised for his leadership since he arrived in Iowa City in January. After spring practice, McNamara organized a trip to California to work with his throwing coach Jordan Palmer and invited several Hawkeye players to come train with him.

The graduate transfer led the Wolverines to a Big Ten title in 2021 and has two years of eligibility remaining. Ferentz said McNamara has been an “outstanding” fit into the program.

“As excited I was in December, I’m way more excited now because I’ve seen the impact he’s had on us,” Ferentz said.

Gambling investigation ongoing

On May 8, the University of Iowa’s office of strategic communication released a statement that the university received information about 111 individuals involved in a wagering scandal.

This includes 26 current student-athletes from baseball, football, men’s track and field, men’s basketball, and men’s wrestling, as well as one employee of the UI Department of Athletics.

Defensive lineman Noah Shannon is the only Iowa football player to be publicly named in the investigation.

Ferentz said that Shannon is a “tremendous person” and feels bad about being involved in the scandal.

Shannon was originally going to attend Big Ten Media Days but decided to pull out because of his involvement in the investigation. Senior linebacker Jay Higgins took Shannon’s spot in Indianapolis.

“Being selected to represent the Iowa Hawkeye football team at Big Ten Media Day is a tremendous honor and privilege,” Shannon said in a media release. “I am grateful for the opportunity. However, given the circumstances, I told Coach Ferentz it would be best for him to select another player. Since the NCAA review is not yet complete, I don’t feel it is right for me to represent the team.”

Ferentz said that no one has been pulled from the program and everyone will continue practicing. He added that he hopes to know sooner than later what the consequences are, if any.

“It’s not a large number of players, period,” Ferentz said. “Long story short, we don’t really know what the outcome is going to be.”

No matter what the outcome is for his players, Ferentz wants the NCAA to use this time to reevaluate its policies.

“I think our world’s changed dramatically,” Ferentz said.  “I think what the NFL has done with their rules makes a lot of sense. I’m hopeful this is an opportunity for the NCAA to reconsider two things, what punishments might be fair and relevant to the world we’re living in right now. And probably the bigger thing, there’s an opportunity right now for a lot better education process.”

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Ayrton Breckenridge
Ayrton Breckenridge, Managing Visuals Editor
Ayrton Breckenridge is the Managing Visuals Editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and cinema. This is his fourth year working for the DI.