Ferentz new dean of coaches following Paterno's ouster


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Kirk Ferentz received a new title for his résumé on Wednesday night when then-Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was booted from his longtime position.

The 84-year-old Paterno learned Wednesday night he was fired in the wake of a sexual-abuse scandal involving former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky. Now, Ferentz becomes the dean of Big Ten football coaches, a title given to whichever coach has been at his institution the longest.

Paterno was about a month away from completing his 46th year as Penn State's coach; Ferentz is in his 13th season at Iowa. Illinois coach Ron Zook was Ferentz's closest competitor for the title, with seven years under his belt in Champaign, Ill.

Ferentz, 56, becomes Iowa's third current dean of coaches. He joins men's tennis coach Steve Houghton (31st year) and women's basketball's Lisa Bluder (12th).

It remains to be seen whether Penn State will retain interim head coach Tom Bradley after the season comes to an end — but if he is let go, Ferentz's name would be a popular pick to appear on the short list of candidates for the job. Ferentz was raised in Pennsylvania, and his enthusiasm for all things Penn State has been well documented.

ESPN.com Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg and college-football columnist Mark Schlabach listed Ferentz immediately behind Bradley on a list of potential Paterno replacements, although the writers didn't give their criteria for how they organized the nine coaches.

But it's not likely Ferentz will leave Iowa City any time soon and less likely that he'll even entertain the thought. He signed a contract extension in 2010 that binds him to the Black and Gold through 2020; it's a contract that gives him around $3.8 million each year and includes a clause requiring him to ask Hawkeye Athletics Director Gary Barta before speaking to suitors.

He could also potentially have two sons in Hawkeye uniforms next year; 22-year-old James Ferentz will be a senior, and he has been solid as Iowa's starting center the past two years, and some have speculated youngest son Steve Ferentz will walk on next season.

But for now, Ferentz won't touch the subject.

"I'm just thinking about [Saturday's game against] Michigan State," he said on Tuesday.

Former Nittany Lion defensive coordinator Bradley — the man who replaced Sandusky when the latter retired after the 1999 season — held his first press conference as Penn State's interim coach on Thursday morning.

"I take this job with very mixed emotions due to the situation," said Bradley, who played for Paterno in the late 1970s and has been on the Nittany Lion staff for the past 33 years. "I've been asked by the university, by the Board of Trustees … to handle this, and I told them I would do it last night. I will proceed in the manner Penn State expects."

Bradley said he called Paterno late Wednesday night but declined to discuss their conversation.

The Board of Trustees also fired university President Graham Spanier on Wednesday. Penn State's former Athletics Director Tim Curley and former Vice President Gary Schultz were charged with perjury and failure to report abuse, and both resigned earlier this week.

"Moving forward is the only responsible course to take in the coming months," interim Penn State President Rodney Erickson said in a release on Thursday. "… I ask for your support as we move forward, and move forward we must — and we will."

That will undoubtedly be difficult, but former Iowa President Willard "Sandy" Boyd said dealing with hard times is part of the job description.

"You do what you have to do when you have to do it. It can be done," said Boyd, who served as Iowa's president from 1969-81 and as its interim president from 2002 to 2003.

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