The Brian Ferentz saga at Iowa is coming to an end.
Ferentz, the son of longtime Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, will not return to the Iowa coaching staff in 2024. Ferentz will stay with the team through its bowl game, but this will be his last season with the program, Iowa athletic director Beth Goetz announced Monday.
"After conversations with head coach Kirk Ferentz, coach Brian Ferentz and President Wilson, I informed Brian that our intention is for him to be with us through the bowl game, but this is his last season with the program," Goetz said. "Making this known today is in the best interest of the program and its loyal fans; it provides clarity during this pivotal time in the schedule."
Brian Ferentz has been the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator since 2017. And over the last three years, Iowa has had one of the worst offenses in the country. This year, in fact, it is the worst.
Entering Week 10, Iowa ranks dead last — No. 133 out of 133 FBS teams — in total offense. The Hawkeyes are averaging 232.4 yards per game and only 4.12 yards per play, which is second-to-last in the nation. The team’s 19.5 points per game ranks 120th.
In 2022, Iowa averaged 251.6 yards per game (No. 130 out of 131 FBS teams), 4.24 yards per play (No. 129) and 17.7 points per game (No. 123). In 2021, the Hawkeyes averaged 303.7 yards per game, 4.67 yards per play and 23.4 points per game, figures that ranked No. 121, No. 120 and No. 99 nationally.
Despite the anemic offensive output, the Hawkeyes have been very competitive in the Big Ten West. They won 10 games and the division in 2021 and then went 8-5 last year, leaning on an excellent defense and special teams play.
That has continued this year as the Hawkeyes are 6-2 overall and tied for first place in the division. Iowa is coming off a bye week, but lost 12-10 to Minnesota in its previous outing. It was Iowa’s first loss to Minnesota since 2014 and the first time the Hawkeyes lost to the Gophers in Iowa City since 1999. In the loss, Iowa could muster only 127 yards of offense, including just 12 yards in the second half.
"It is not my practice to be involved in assistant coaching decisions and certainly not to make public such a change during a season," Goetz said. "Our priority is to put all our student-athletes in the best position to have both short-term and long-term success, on and off the field. Our football team has a group of outstanding young men and talented athletes, who at 6-2, have a lot to play for."
Brian Ferentz's contract became ongoing joke in college football
The lack of production from the Iowa offense — and Kirk Ferentz’s unwillingness to demote his son — became a running joke in the college football world. The derision only intensified when Iowa revised Brian Ferentz’s contract. He had his pay cut by $50,000 and the school mandated that the team reach seven wins with the offense averaging at least 25 points per game.
Through eight games, Iowa is averaging only 19.5 points per game.
"Anyone who loves Iowa football recognizes both the success and challenges that have brought attention to our program this season. Our struggles on offense coupled with the offensive coordinator’s contract make this a unique situation," Goetz said.
The unit was expected to improve after several additions were made via the transfer portal, including ex-Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara. But McNamara is out with a season-ending injury, as are tight ends Erick All and Luke Lachey. All, another Michigan transfer, is the team’s leading receiver. Lachey played in only two games, but still ranks second on the team with 131 receiving yards.
In McNamara’s absence, Deacon Hill has been starting at quarterback and struggling mightily. In the four games since McNamara’s injury, Hill has thrown for 378 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions while completing only 33 of his 90 passing attempts. That’s only 36.7%.
Iowa will return to action vs. Northwestern on Saturday in a game being played at Wrigley Field in Chicago. From there, the Hawkeyes have home games vs. Rutgers and Illinois before closing out the regular season at Nebraska.