Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz apologizes for dissing reporter who asked about offense's struggles

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz apologized via an email statement Wednesday night for demeaning a reporter on Tuesday but reiterated on his weekly radio show that he had a problem with the reporter’s “tone” on Saturday after his team was blown out by Ohio State.

Iowa dropped to 3-4 after a 54-10 loss to the Buckeyes. The Iowa offense, coordinated by Ferentz’s son Brian, has been abysmal so far in 2022 and committed six turnovers against Ohio State. The only TD scored by the Hawkeyes was by the defense as the Iowa offense has scored seven TDs in seven games this season.

After the game, Ferentz was asked by a reporter from about his offense’s lack of production. Iowa made a QB change from Spencer Petras to Alex Padilla at halftime of the Ohio State game and Ferentz was questioned why he would be willing to make a mid-game change of players but not a midseason change of coaches running the offense.

The exchange between Ferentz and reporter Doug Lesmerises was three questions long. You can view it below.

Tuesday, Ferentz brought up the exchange unprompted at a mid-week news conference and said it was like an interrogation. He also said that he found himself after the game feeling happy that he was Iowa’s football coach and not the reporter who was asking him questions. He did not name Lesmerises but it was obvious who he was talking about.

“I said ‘Man, as bad as today was, it could have been worse because I could have been that guy,’” Ferentz, who is making $7 million in 2022, said Tuesday. “I could have been that guy, had his job and had to act like he did.”

Wednesday evening, Iowa emailed out an apology from Ferentz to Iowa media members.

“I should not have been dismissive of one of your colleagues — his questions were fair,” Ferentz said in the statement. “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 [Tuesday] I did not do the same thing.”

It was clear not long after the apology was emailed out that Ferentz was still salty about what happened on Saturday. He complained about Lesmerises’ “tone” on his weekly radio show Wednesday night.

“I was not appreciative of the tone in which the questions were delivered so I’ll stand by that,” Ferentz said Wednesday. “And if anything else it just reinforces and makes me appreciate my feelings towards the Iowa media. They ask hard questions, they do what they have to do. Again, I appreciate that and respect that but but what I more so respect is the quality of people that I have a chance to interact with on a routine business and the way they go about their jobs. I’m not sitting up here trying to tell anybody how to do their job but I guess I do have some opinions about it and there are certain tones that I don’t appreciate people taking with me.”

Brian Ferentz has been an Iowa coach since 2012

It’s important to remember that Ferentz brought the situation he finds himself in upon himself when he hired his son to be the team’s offensive coordinator after the 2016 season. After all, when Brian Ferentz was hired to Iowa’s coaching staff in 2012, Iowa athletic director Gary Barta was listed as his direct supervisor because of nepotism concerns.

And this much is obvious, too: While it’s understandable that a father would find criticism of his son unfair in any circumstance, the person in charge of Iowa’s brutal offense would be receiving scrutiny right now from all corners whether or not he or she were related to the head coach.

The Hawkeyes are averaging less than 230 yards per game and fewer than four yards per play. No team is averaging fewer total yards on a per game basis and only UMass is averaging fewer yards per play. With Iowa’s defense only allowing 4.1 yards per play and the team allowing just 16 points per game even after the Ohio State blowout, the offense is the reason why Iowa finds itself below .500 and at risk of missing a bowl game.

Iowa hasn’t missed a bowl game after a full season since 2012 and has won at least eight games in seven of the eight full seasons since. Ferentz hasn’t faced much criticism of his team’s performance on the field recently. And that criticism is aimed at his son because the unit Brian coaches is playing so poorly.

And while Lesmerises’ questions to Kirk on Saturday were pointed, they weren’t confrontational. In fact, they would be expected about any coordinator of a unit that’s averaging a touchdown a game more than halfway through the season. They just seem to be more uncomfortable for Ferentz than they would be otherwise because they were about his son.

CHAMPAIGN, IL - OCTOBER 08: Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz watches his team play during a college football game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Illinois Fighting Illini, October 08, 2022, at Memorial Stadium, Champaign, IL. Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),
Iowa's offense has scored seven TDs in seven games and is averaging less than four yards per play. Iowa's offensive coordinator is Brian Ferentz, the son of Kirk Ferentz. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images),