Ferentz dismisses expectations, shuts off 'outside noise'


Christy Aumer/The Daily Iowan
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Kirk Ferentz knew the question was coming. In fact, he was surprised it took so long.

Ten minutes into his Tuesday meeting with the media, Iowa's 12-year head coach was asked about his team "underperforming" to a 7-3 record.

The Hawkeyes are essentially out of the Big Ten race — something that's a disappointment to Ferentz, but he doesn't see it as reason to stop the season, especially with a home game against No. 8 Ohio State Saturday.

"I want to be conference champions," he said. "That's where it ends. After that, our goal is to do the best we can each week. It starts with preparing well, then playing well. That's what the goal is. It hasn't changed."

Ferentz talks often about shutting out the outside noise, ignoring expectations, and not focusing on the experts' opinion. This is born from a simple philosophy: The experts don't always know what they're talking about.

The head coach spent time looking up preseason polls to prove his point. Oregon — the current unanimous No. 1 team in college football — was ranked behind Iowa in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches' Poll. As Ferentz said, "They got that wrong."

So he's not too concerned living up to anyone's expectations because more often than not, those expectations are out of whack. Ferentz compared trying to win a Big Ten title with recruiting: You have so many teams vying for one prospect, one championship that making it a life-or-death scenario is pointless.

"If that's going to break your heart, you're going to be in trouble because you're going to lose more you win," he said about winning a conference crown.

Safety Tyler Sash admitted, "A lot of people probably think this season is over." But that won't be the sense inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex this week, especially as one of the most-decorated senior classes in school history prepares for its farewell to Kinnick Stadium.

The Hawkeyes will be in a rare position Saturday — at least for the 2010 season. They're underdogs according to Vegas odds for only the second time all year — the first being a road trip to Arizona on Sept. 18. Iowa is around three-point underdogs for this weekend's matchup with Ohio State, depending on the sportsbook.

More than anything, that's a product of the Hawkeyes' last two performances — an all-too-close win at Indiana and a loss to Northwestern, the latter of which eliminated Iowa from the title discussion.

"I think a lot of fans don't realize how hard it is to go undefeated, and win the Big Ten title, and make it to the Rose Bowl," Adam Robinson said. "They just think since we had such a good season last year, it's just supposed to happen. And that's really unrealistic."

Tarpinian likely out rest of regular season

Linebacker Jeff Tarpinian reaggravated his stinger injury in the Nov. 13 matchup with Northwestern. Ferentz said he'd likely miss the remainder of the regular season, but hopes to get him back for a bowl game.

He is the third linebacker the Hawkeyes have lost this season — and the second starter. Tyler Nielsen (neck) and Bruce Davis (knee) are both out for the rest of the year. Jeremiha Hunter remains the only linebacker standing from Iowa's season-opening starters.

"Hopefully, he'll be healthy to play in the bowl game," Ferentz said. "We are all keeping our fingers crossed there."

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