After leading the program to its first BCS-level postseason victory since the 1950s — the 2010 Orange Bowl, it wasn’t that long ago — coach Kirk Ferentz was rewarded in kind by the University of Iowa. Both sides agreed to a contract extension through 2020 with a remarkable, let’s-add-a-new-indoor-pool-to-the-mansion kind of clause.
And it was this: If Ferentz is fired before the deal is up, he still gets 75 percent of his annual guaranteed compensation (in the $3.7-million range, according to reports) paid in monthly installments, over the rest of the life of the contract.
At the time, it seemed like common sense, a vote for stability, sanity and continuity. Ferentz wasn’t going anywhere, and it was a good thing.
Now the Hawkeyes are in free-fall, losers of three in a row, the latest a 27-24 setback at Kinnick Stadium to woebegone Purdue. A disgruntled fan base is thinking less about oranges and more about throwing tomatoes.
Trouble is, you’re stuck, kids. Ferentz’s contract means you can take your 4-6 record, your no-way-in-Hell-they’ll-bowl-now campaign and your ignoble losses to miserable Central Michigan, Indiana and Purdue teams, and you’ll like it. It also means that the MVP of the Hawkeyes’ 2012 season isn’t folk hero Mark Weisman at all. That honor goes to Ferentz’s agent, Ohio-based Neil Cornrich.
THE BIG 8:
Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight…
TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT
1. Kansas State (10-0) / vs. Baylor
2. Oklahoma (7-2) / vs. West Virginia
3. Ohio State (10-0) / vs. Wisconsin
4. Texas (8-2) / Bye (vs. TCU, 11/24)
5. Nebraska (8-2) / vs. Minnesota
6. Oklahoma State (6-3) / vs. Texas Tech
7. Texas Tech (7-3) / vs. Oklahoma State
8. Wisconsin (7-3) / vs. Ohio State
ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:
1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: By all accounts, he’s healthy and passed the 2,000-yard passing barrier in a 23-10 workmanlike win at TCU. The Tebow of the Plains is what he is, and as long as K-State remains unbeaten, the trophy is probably his to lose.
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Johnny Football 1, Nick Saban 0. Welcome to Legendary Status Club, kid. If Saturday’s win over juggernaut Alabama in Tuscaloosa was any indication, you might be here a while.
3. Kenjon Barner, HB, Oregon: Ran for just 65 yards in Strawberry Canyon over the weekend — and Oregon rolled anyway.
SET YOUR TIVO:
The games you won’t want to miss …
1. Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, FOX Sports Midwest, 2:30 p.m.: If you like defense and 12-10 tilts — well, look the other way. The high-flying Cowboys put up 66 on the Red Raiders last fall and are shooting for their fourth straight win the series.
2. Ohio State at Wisconsin, ABC, 2:30 p.m.: The best team in the Leaders division meets the team that’ll represent the Leaders division in the Big Ten championship game.
3. Stanford at Oregon, ABC, 7 p.m.: As good as the Cardinals have been in recent years, they’ve also given up 49 points per game to Oregon over the past three seasons.
THIS WEEK’S COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: TOMMY TUBERVILLE, TEXAS TECH
If you thought the brawl in last Sunday’s NASCAR race was a hoot, you would’ve loved the Red Raiders’ matchup at home against Kansas the day before. During a heated sideline exchange captured by the FOX Sports cameras, Tuberville reached over and ripped the headset off graduate assistant Kevin Oliver. When pressed on the matter by reporters following the game, Tuberville said he was merely trying to keep his assistant off the field. “He was on the field, and I reached to grab him and pull him off,” the coach explained after Tech escaped with a 41-34 win. “When I pulled, I missed his shirt and I grabbed his (headset) and his microphone ripped off his head. I was trying to get him off the field.” Sure, Tommy. You betcha. CVSean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.