Kirk Ferentz Visited by Ghosts of Football Past, Present, and Future
When 68-year-old Kirk Ferentz is seen on regional TV scowling at his son every Saturday afternoon, it's hard not to draw comparison to the ultimate grumpy old man of the last 200 years, Scrooge McDuck. But the similarities became undeniable yesterday morning, when we at the Doily were awoken in the early hours by frantic pounding on our office door (yes, we sleep in the Doily office, you think this job pays well??).
We opened the door to the typically macho-attitude man looking more geriatric than ever, watching as Ferentz flung his hands wildly in the air while exclaiming he had a story to tell. As dedicated reporters, we diligently sat down with the disheveled Ferentz to document his amazing nighttime journey.
When Ferentz retreated to his bed last night after a long day of standing around and frowning with his headset on, he thought he would be dreaming of the numerous wins he still somehow thinks his son will be able to help him pull off. Instead, he found himself standing in a dark and empty Kinnick stadium, with a shadowy figure standing a few feet away.
Ferentz: I knew right away it was a dream, because it didn’t smell like stale beer and piss. When I yelled out, my voice echoed like I was in a haunted house in some shitty horror movie. Suddenly, the jumbotron flicked on, and I could see from the light of the big screen that it was Nile Kinnick himself standing in front of me!
Doily: Did he talk to you? What did he say?
F: He talked just as garbly as he does in that grainy black-and-white speech they always play at the start of games. I couldn’t make out most of it, but I got the idea that he wanted to remind me of our glory days “on the gridirons of the Midwest.”
D: What the hell is that supposed to mean?
F: No idea. Anyways, then everything lit up around me. At first, it just looked like an ordinary game day, but then I looked closer. The stands were packed with cheering and smiling fans, but everyone’s fashion was dated, and we were running plays I hadn’t thought about in years! It was 2002, my 4th season as coach and my first trip to the Orange Bowl with Iowa. Nile Kinnick’s friendly all-American face watched me as I stared around in wonder. I wanted to watch the whole game over again, but in a blink of my eye it was gone as quick as it had come!
D: So who did you see next?
F: Spencer Petras. Nile faded away, and my old reliable shimmered in, looking just as great as he has the last few years. Man, I’ve missed him.
D: Don’t get creepy, old man. What did he show you?
F: Well, we caught up for a while, shared some laughs, and then when the stadium lit up again I was looking at this season’s first home game against Utah State. The stands were still packed, but people weren’t having as much fun as I had remembered. In fact, compared to 2002 they looked downright miserable. I remember thinking, “Why is everyone so down?”, and then I saw us fumble an offensive play and the crowd all started flipping the bird at my son, Brian.
D: Were you mad at that?
F: Of course I was, he’s my son! But also, I’m old, not stupid. I know he sucks. I just wish I could figure out how to whip him into shape. That’s what Petras said to me too - “Time for the 40 year old to go back to school,” right before he disappeared too.
D: Did you see anyone else?
At this, dear readers, we must tell you that Kirk Ferentz looked like he was about to shit himself in our office.
F: Yes. I know how the story goes. I knew what I was going to see. But nothing could have prepared me for it.
D: Your future, right?
F: Yes. No one even came to talk to me beforehand, the lights just came up. The stadium was mostly empty, with old hot dog wrappers blowing around it like tumbleweeds with metal benches turned sideways and crumbling bricks all around. The marching band’s instruments sounded flat and tired, and the few fans there were asleep in their seats. The team was playing against the “Podunk University Peacocks”, and losing terribly. As I watched, even some of the players began to stop running and leave the field. I tried to call out to them to wait, but all I could do was watch, frozen in place.
D: What had happened?
F: A voice behind me told me we had been kicked out of the Big 10, because they finally decided it should actually be 10 teams and we didn’t make the cut. No one wanted to attend an ex-Big 10 school, so our revenue went down and we played smaller and smaller teams for sadder and sadder crowds. But through it all, one coach remained. When I was finally able to turn around, I could see my son Brian, as old as I am now, wearing a hat that said “Head Coach” on it. Behind him, someone had graffitied on the stadium seats, “Hawkeyes = Land of the Nepo Babies”. My son smiled at me, and I woke up screaming.
D: Wow, that’s horrible! What are you going to do now?
F: Well, I laid in bed for a long time, thinking about how not to lose our precious sales, and I’ve realized that Brian has got to go. Son or not, he is just a plague on our team. I’m going to burn him at the stake tonight, and the bonfire will be made out of our shitty coaching clipboards. You’re welcome to come if you like!
D: Aha, no thanks.
Ferentz proceeded to leave us singing Christmas carols, as if his experience couldn’t get any more on the nose. Later that night there was indeed a fire reported at Brian Ferentz’s home, but no bodies were found and neither Kirk nor Brian has been seen since. Caitlin Clark will be filling in for both of them until either one returns. This is because football and basketball don’t run at the same time, and she can do whatever the hell she wants. The moral of the story, we think, dear readers, is that sometimes a man can be taught, but sometimes an analogy to a famous novella has to be made to show you that he in fact, cannot.