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Archive for February, 2016

Typical Drew

Saturday, February 27th, 2016
Drew Ott sat down at a table today in Indianapolis, surrounded by a handful of reporters at the NFL Combine who were curious about what it felt like to be Drew. As a Big Ten eligibility committee continues to research the merits of the Iowa defensive end's request for an additional year of eligibility after an injury-filled senior season that kept him off the field for eight of the Hawkeyes' 14 games, limited him in others and ultimately led to both Tommy John and ACL surgeries, Ott's future remains in limbo. If possible, he wants one final year with the Hawkeyes. If not, he's laying the groundwork to move forward and he's doing so on his own. Ott is maneuvering his way through the NFL pre-draft thicket this week in Indianapolis on his own. He was given permission by the NCAA to attend, but cannot hire an agent because of his desire to return to the college game. He took a spot in the interview room with other combine participants and admitted that the process has taken a little longer than he thought it might initially, but conceded to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, "I'm doing OK.'' Typical Drew. He's rolling with the flow, just as he always has. The paperwork for Ott's request was filed before Iowa packed its bags for Pasadena. The Big Ten eligibility subcommittee that reviews those requests held its first meeting since that time earlier this week. It did not announce a decision, which is not all that uncommon and sometimes is reflective of a desire to collect more information. Ott indicated in Indianapolis he believes he will know something within the next couple of weeks. If the Big Ten rejects his request, he can appeal the decision to the NCAA and coach Kirk Ferentz has indicated that an appeal is likely if needed. Ott said he understands that the people on the eligibility are making sure the request is what it is and doesn't fault them for being thorough in their work. While some people would be up in arms about the length of time this all has taken, Ott isn't whining or carping about it. He told reporters he's ready to deal with whatever comes his way when the group ultimately makes its call. "I've been dealing with it for a couple months now,'' he said. "I'm not too worked up about it. I'll be fine either way.'' Truer words may have never been spoken. Ott said that former Hawkeye Aaron Kampman, who now lives near Solon after concluding his own NFL career, has been helpful in providing guidance. In the meantime, Ott continues to work on rehabbing his body from the late-October surgeries. Spring football at Iowa begins on March 23. The NFL Draft runs from April 28-30. Ott figures he'll know where his future well before then and if history tells us anything - remember that Ott played five days after being tossed off his scooter following a collision with a vehicle - he'll be ready to cope with whatever comes his way. That, too, is typical Drew.

A different perspective

Friday, February 5th, 2016
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz plans to be in the stands Sunday at Super Bowl 50, viewing things from a different perspective. With son James contributing on special teams and as a back-up center for the Broncos, Ferentz has a rooting interest in what takes place on the field in Santa Clara when Denver faces Carolina late Sunday afternoon. As has been the case when he's had a chance to watch his sons play before, he'll watch it as a parent and have same type of perspective that many Hawkeyes players have when they watch their sons play at Iowa. "When you're coaching, you're working obviously,'' Ferentz said. "When you're playing, you're competing, but when you're a parent, it kind of takes the fun out of everything because it's either black or white. That's good or bad. That's just kind of how it goes.'' This will be the second Super Bowl that Ferentz has attended in recent years, getting a chance to be there when his son Brian was coaching tight ends on the Patriots staff when New England played in the 2012 Super Bowl. Ferentz, the parent, is happy for his son and what he has accomplished. Three years removed from his final college season at Iowa, James Ferentz took a year off and worked at Randy's Carpets in Coralville before making the Texans practice squad a year ago. He was cut by Houston before the start of the 2015 season, but signed one week before Denver opened the current season and has been on the team's active roster all year. The Iowa coach fought back a tear or five when taking about his son this week. "It's a good story. He's sticking with it, chasing the dream a little bit,'' Ferentz said. "I was teasing him, I said he's gone from a day-to-day contract to now having a week-to-week contract. So, he's improved his lot in life. But that is the reality in the NFL. "... The reality is it's a temporary profession, but why not chase it? Why not go after it? Really happy for him, and the Super Bowl is just the cherry on top.'' As proud as he is of what James Ferentz has accomplished, Ferentz, the coach, thinks Sunday's game leaves a bit to be desired. "What I don't like about the Super Bowl is just all the hoopla and the fact that halftime is instead of 12 minutes it's 30 minutes. I really think that's disrespectful to the players and the coaches, which are key parts of any football game,'' Ferentz said. Still, he welcomes the chance to be there Sunday. "It's really exciting, and you know, we'll be cheering for Peyton Manning and the Broncos,'' Ferentz said. He'll also be cheering for dry weather, recalling sitting through rain at one of the two Super Bowls that have been played in rainy weather. "My wife takes great delight in that, A, I didn't get dropped off by the team bus right at the entrance to the stadium and B, that when it started raining nobody gave me a raincoat,'' Ferentz said. "So, I got soaked and I froze. My wife thoroughly enjoyed that. She was home.''

Showtime nears

Monday, February 1st, 2016
When college football's future signs on the bottom line on Wednesday, the first time current high school recruits can sign binding letters of intent, it will be greeted with the usual fanfare across the country. There will be signing ceremonies, photos and cakes at high schools from coast to coast. College coaches will announce the newest collection of players, celebrating the additional of recruits who are perfect fits for their programs. Some will follow a traditional routine. As letters of intent arrive at a school's football office, they will announced on social media. It's a big day for both the athletes involved and for coaches whose future relies on making good decisions as they build rosters and fill needs of the programs. There tends to be a little more glitz these days as recruits are announced. After all, it wasn't all that long ago that Hayden Fry announced his recruits in three waves - instate, out of state and junior college - in order to receive three days worth of news coverage of who the Hawkeyes are signing. Now, TV cameras are rolling as letters of intent are received. There will be live coverage as the next generation of SEC players hits the send button to cement their future plans. And in Ann Arbor, it will be showtime. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who hasn't hesitated to draw attention to his program whenever possible, will introduce the Wolverines' new recruits at an event that is being billed as "Signing of the Stars'' and will attract a number of celebrities to an auditorium on the Michigan campus. It's just the latest attention-grabbing attempt by Harbaugh who attracted attention recently by participating in a well-publicized sleepover at a recruit's house after raising the ire of SEC coaches after the Michigan staff hosted a series of clinics in the heart of some of the nation's most fertile recruiting territories last summer. This time, Harbaugh and Michigan has teamed up with The Players' Tribune for a two-hour event to announce the Wolverines' newest recruits. Former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady, who isn't working this week after the Patriots were eliminated from the NFL playoffs, and Derek Jeter are the latest members of a star-studded cast scheduled to appear. Grammy-nominated Josh Gracin, pro wrestler Ric Flair, NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski, rapper Migos, former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, former NFL coach Mike Shanahan, former college coach Lou Holtz and former Wolverines Desmond Howard, Jon Jansen and Denard Robinson, are all scheduled to appear and help introduce Michigan's newest football talent. Plans also include participation at the invitation-only event by new players who enrolled early and are already on campus. The event will be live streamed, and it only seems likely that future prospects are well aware of the latest collection of bells and whistles Harbaugh is utilizing to draw attention to his program. Michigan's current recruiting class, by the way, ranks fifth nationally right now and is regarded as the second best in the Big Ten behind Ohio State.