Ferentz: A Spring Season Would Bring New Challenges

John Bohnenkamp

His 2020 fall football season hadn't been wiped out for more than a few hours before Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked what a spring schedule would look like.

With the Big Ten postponing fall sports on Tuesday, and floating the option of playing them in the spring, Ferentz said planning for the spring season would require more than just preparing for a few games in three months. It would mean thinking about the entire year, including what a team would have to do to get ready for the 2021 fall season.

"I think it’s certainly doable," Ferentz said. "We have to be realistic about it. I think we also have to look at it in terms of spring and fall combined."

Ferentz said there has been little, if any, discussion among the conference coaches about a spring scenario.

"To my recollection, I can’t remember us talking about what this spring would look like," he said. "All of the focus has been what can we do to get to the field this fall. What’s it going to look like? Is it going to be 10 games? Twelve games? We never really had discussion on less than that. We’ve really been focused on (the fall).

"Unfortunately, we have a really long time to recalibrate, talk about it in an intelligent fashion."

With the 10-game conference-only schedule wiped out, and no full-contact practices allowed for the time being, the last time the Hawkeyes were in full pads was the 2019 Holiday Bowl win over USC. Iowa did not get to have a spring practice session because the campus was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A spring season played outdoors also provides a weather challenge. Average high temperatures in Iowa City in February are in the mid-to-high 30s. Average highs in March range from the 40s early in the month to the mid-50s later.

"We may be playing some colder games," Ferentz said. "We were looking at that in December anyway if we had slid the schedule. We play in the Midwest, we’ve played in cold games. That’s not the biggest issue in the world."

There will be health risks as well, with or without the COVID-19 virus, asking players to play a season of games and practices and then, after a couple of months off, playing a fall season.

"I think it’s possible," Ferentz said. "I think we have to really be smart. We’re going to have to certainly alter the way we go about it. If this becomes a reality — which, that’s the next thing up on the board — first challenge is to get our guys ready for a spring, to play in the spring. I don’t think that’s a huge challenge. But then what you do after the spring season has ended, and how that pertains to the fall, how you train for that, that obviously is going to look different than it has ever looked before.

"Those are things that, if it’s given thought and it’s done in a smart way, for sure it can be done. ... There's got to be an answer for it."