Ferentz Delivers The News On The Loss Of A Season

John Bohnenkamp

Iowa's football players didn't lose a game on Tuesday.

They lost 10.

Kirk Ferentz said meeting with his players after the Big Ten announced there would be no 2020 fall season was like talking to them after a difficult defeat.

"There’s nothing you can say to make them feel better," the Hawkeyes' coach said.

The Hawkeyes, like everyone else in the conference, dealt with the rumors and the uncertainty since Saturday, when it was first reported that the Big Ten was considering canceling the season because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

For a while on Tuesday, there was a thought that maybe the conference would delay the start of the season, which for the Hawkeyes was to begin with a Sept. 5 home game against Maryland.

But the conference's presidents and chancellors voted to end the season for all fall sports teams, and plan for some or all of those seasons playing in the spring.

"Above everything, I’m just really disappointed for our players," Ferentz said. "Players, we talk to them all of the time about how limited their clock is. It’s such a small window of opportunity to play football, be it high school (or) college. If you’re fortunate to play beyond it, it’s even tighter.

"It’s just disappointing. They’ve worked hard, they’ve done everything we could have asked of them, and then some, and they’ve done it in tough circumstances. So that part, it’s hard."

Iowa's first practice was Friday, and the Hawkeyes were getting ready for Saturday's practice when the Big Ten said it would be pausing all contact workouts because of medical concerns with the COVID-19 virus. The Hawkeyes' first practice in pads was scheduled to be Sunday, but the team instead held a practice that Ferentz described as "walk-through tempo."

Ferentz canceled practice Monday and Tuesday. He said part of his reason for canceling was because he didn't want anyone getting injured in case there wasn't going to be a season.

“It’s not because we weren’t committed to playing this season," he said. "My guess was, based on what I had heard, the earliest we’d play would be the 29th … the last week of September. If so, I thought our guys needed a break — they had been going hard for quite some time — and we would pick it up again next week."

Instead, Ferentz has given them a two-week break. They'll return to Iowa's football facility the week of August 24, the first week of classes for the fall semester.

Many of Ferentz's players had gone to social media over the weekend, expressing their desires to play this season. Ferentz said at least two players were considering sitting out this season.

"One I think was leaning very, very strongly toward that," he said. "But the majority of our guys have all along wanted to play. That’s what they’ve been working for. They’ve demonstrated that more than talking about it, more than tweeting about it, going on social media. They’ve been here day in and day out working in perilous circumstances, certainly."

Iowa didn't have a spring practice season because of the pandemic and the closing of the university's campus.

There is an expectation that there will be some workout time allowed for teams this fall.

"Our thoughts have been fully on this season, playing this fall, preparing for this fall," Ferentz said. "We’ll process this, we’ll figure out a smart way to go about it when our guys get back."

Ferentz called the news a "disappointment." He talked about how fans have approached him since the spring, expressing their wishes for a season.

"Football is a big part of our life, especially here in the Midwest — college football, especially.," he said. "But it doesn’t mean more to anybody than the players. Nobody. And the coaches are right there with it. That is what we do, it’s such a big part of our lives. But it’s not life or death, either, and this is a good reminder of that." 

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz had to deliver the news to his team on Tuesday that there would be no 2020 fall season. (Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register-Imagn Content Service)