IOWA CITY, Iowa – Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz apologized Wednesday night for publicly criticizing a reporter who asked him about his decision to keep son Brian Ferentz as offensive coordinator with the Hawkeyes’ offense performing so poorly this season.
Ferentz, unprompted, had said at his weekly news conference Tuesday that he had experienced an “interrogation” when Cleveland.com columnist Doug Lesmerises asked him about his son. That exchange occurred at the news conference following the 54-10 loss at No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday.
“The one good thing about it that dawned on me coming home … I said, man, as bad as today was, it could have been worse because I could have been that guy,” Ferentz told reporters Tuesday without naming Lesmerises. “I could have been that guy, had his job and had to act like he did. Yeah, it could be … a lot worse. All things aren’t that bad.”
In his emailed apology to the media, Ferentz said he should not have been dismissive “of one of your colleagues” and that 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,” Ferentz said in the statement. “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.”
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Iowa (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten) had just 158 total yards and committed six turnovers against the Buckeyes. The Hawkeyes’ average of 227.3 yards per game ranks last in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and the offense has scored just seven touchdowns in seven games.
Brian Ferentz has been offensive coordinator since 2017 and long a target for criticism because of nepotism.
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Lesmerises asked Ferentz three questions at the end of the Ohio State news conference and, in prefacing one, pointed out that the Hawkeyes have one of the least productive offenses in the country.
“I’ve noticed that, yeah,” the elder Ferentz interjected.
“Everybody’s noticed it,” Lesmerises said. “Do you believe you’re putting the Iowa football program in a bad spot by having that kind of production on one side of the ball and it’s run by one of your family members?”
In response to the questions, Ferentz said it’s his preference to play out the season before making a decision on an assistant; the fact the offensive coordinator is his son is not an issue to him and that his assistants have demonstrated success and are good people; and the manner in which Brian will be evaluated after the season will be the same as with other assistants.
Lesmerises, who wrote a column critical of the Ferentz dynamic at Iowa, said in a text to The Associated Press that he had no problem with how Ferentz answered his questions or what he said Tuesday.
“I criticized him and he certainly has the right to respond however he sees fit,” Lesmerises said. “The issue remains how Kirk Ferentz and Iowa have handled the employment of Brian Ferentz.”