Atop the Nation’s 2023 Coaching Rankings: Kirk Ferentz of Iowa


Regardless of how many may feel about it, there is a fact that remains unaffected: Kirk Ferentz is one of the best college football head coaches in America. Indeed, nearly every fan base in America would gladly adopt the Iowa Hawkeyes as an example of consistency, success, and producing great men, thanks to Ferentz.

Even though many viewed last year as doom and gloom, Ferentz guided the Hawkeyes to eight victories and a postseason bowl triumph. That’s the same number of wins, or more, that nine Big Ten clubs recorded in 2017. Undoubtedly, success in what is the best league in college football. Along with Ferentz, you might be wondering who are the best NFL players from Iowa.

Top Football Coaching Ranking

Jim Harbaugh of Michigan is ranked fourth, James Franklin of Penn State is ranked fifth, Ryan Day of Ohio State is ranked sixth, Luke Fickell of Wisconsin is ranked eleventh, Matt Rhule of Nebraska is fifteenth, and Bret Bielema of Illinois is twenty-fourth.

Before 2023, Ferentz earned a spot among the top 25 college football coaching rankings on The Athletic (pay subscription). Ferentz anticipates ranking No. 22 in 2023 after ranking No. 18 in 2022.

Ferentz and his staff will face challenges as they prepare for the upcoming 2023 season, which will seem “make or break” in many ways. They must increase their offensive production, but they have a favorable schedule ahead of the realignment and a genuine chance to succeed.

However, if things take one turn for the worst, the majority will write Ferentz and the Hawkeyes off. That is when he performs at his peak and motivates his teams the most.

“My intention is long-term and big-picture, not short-term… I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time, quite frankly. Physically and mentally,” Ferentz says

The Coaching Era

As a student assistant at his alma mater, the University of Connecticut, Ferentz began his coaching career in 1977. He worked at Worcester Academy for the following two years (1978–1979), where he again taught English literature. 

In 1980, he worked as a graduate assistant offensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh. The Jackie Sherrill-led Pittsburgh team finished the season 11-1 overall and ranked second in the country.

When Iowa had its first winning season in 19 years in 1981, Ferentz joined Hayden Fry’s staff as the offensive line coach. The Hawkeyes’ conference championship victory and Rose Bowl berth, both of which had not happened in 20 years, were the season’s high points.

During the 1989 season, he served as Iowa’s offensive line coach. He was very successful in developing offensive lines that, to this day, have supported four of Iowa’s highest-scoring attacks. 

In addition, Ferentz served as the head coach or offensive line coach for eight of Iowa’s top ten offensive teams based on yards gained per contest. Moreover, Ferentz served as the offensive line coach or head coach on nine of Iowa’s best passing teams in history.

Coaching Honors

There are many honors and recognitions Ferentz has received, among them: the 2015 Eddie Robinson FWAA Coach of the Year, the 2015 Dodd Trophy Coach of the Year, the 2015 Woody Hayes Coach of the Year (Columbus Touchdown Club), the 2015 AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year, and many more.

Additionally, the NFL Draft Highlights, such as 11 first-round selections and 10 second-round selections, 90% of Iowa’s senior starters in the last 20 years were selected in the NFL Draft or signed to an NFL free agent contract. Iowa ranks third among Big Ten leaders in the number of players drafted (52) over the past 13 years.

Main Image: Credit to Sides Imagery from Pexels

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