Sunday, September 30, 2007

These are not necessarily my opinions...

...but I'm happy to give others a chance to "sound off".

I often receive lengthy letters we don't have time for on SoundOFF, and to pick a sentence or two takes them out of context.

Here's three recent letters in all their glory or shame. You decide:

Brian M. Kaldenberg writes this "memo" about the Kirk Ferentz era. And apparently Brian reads a lot of business books:

Analyzing Ferentz as (CEO), Iowa Football as a (Brand), and the Big 10 as an (Industry)…. And the 2005 Blue Print

College Football in essence is a business. I am going to put into perspective my opinion on why Ferentz was successful and is now faltering as a CEO of Iowa Football… in the competitive and rapidly changing Big Ten industry. Then my opinionated recommendation will conclude.

Ferentz entered as CEO in 1999. Ferentz’ point of differentiation was offensive line expertise combined with zone blocking, which was a rather new blocking scheme in college football at the time. Ferentz also put emphasis on tough, hard nosed run defense, and solid special teams… all core competencies of competitive Big 10 Industry.

After analyzing what he believed was needed for success in the Big Ten industry, Ferentz orchestrated and put together an excellent management team. He hired Philbin to manage the offensive line units. In 1999 the Big 10 industry was dominated by traditional power offenses so Ferentz went out and hired a defensive coordinator named Norm Parker. Parker had a proven track record at MSU, and was a great fit for a rebuilding the Iowa defense.

Ferentz then proceeded with the hiring of Ken O’Keefe. O’keefe was known as a creative offensive coordinator who was great at mixing the run and the pass, and used the play action. Ken O’keefe’s offense wasn’t greatly complex so the system could be learned quickly by the players.

First 2 seasons. Ferentz struggled out of the gate as CEO of Iowa Football, but he had a plan and he stuck to it. He and his management went out and recruited employees that fit and bought into the system. Many of these employees were not recruited heavily by the blue chip Big Ten companies so these employees were just happy to be with a Big Ten company and they bought into was their CEO was selling.

In Ferentz’ third year as CEO the Iowa Football team started to get things headed in the right direction. Iowa’s competitors were still doing what they did in the past because it had worked against Iowa in the past, but in year 3 Ferentz’s Vision was finally starting to take shape. Ferentz out performed half of his competitors in the Big 10 in his third year.

Ferentz next three years as CEO of Iowa were excellent. All of his planning, management and company culture came together wonderfully. Iowa matched up very well with the other major players in the Big 10 Industry. Ferentz was named Big 10 CEO of the year, and his company was right up there at the top with the other blue chip Big Ten companies.

2005 Enter Big 10 Industry Changing / Competitors Attack Ferentz in New Ways.

During Ferentz’ glory years everything he had planned for worked out as planned. Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois all remained pretty much traditional in their offensive schemes, and their defenses basic for the most part. Ferentz’ management style defeated most of these competitors regularly. Some of the contests were close, but Ferentz almost always ended up negotiating a better deal. The one competitor Ferentz struggled with was Purdue and Iowa State. Ferentz was able to win most of his battles with these competitors, but the competition with these other two companies was sometimes painfully close. It just seemed like sometimes Ferentz schemes didn’t always work as well against the “new spread offense” and “blitzing defenses” type teams. Some of the board members (fans) sometimes wondered why Iowa Football always had employees line 8 yards off the line of scrimmage when guarding WR’s. Why doesn’t Iowa blitz?

Iowa Football price per share fell in 2005, but not anything to write home about. Iowa was recruiting better employees, the media was still loving them, and some were predicting Iowa to be the company of the year in 2006. Everything was O.K., and the board members (fans) wrote 2005 off as just a slow year because of the ECONOMY. Ferentz was given a salary raise to roughly $3M per year.

Well in 2005 the ECONOMY wasn’t slow… it was a year when the Big Ten Industry started to change. Indiana had a new CEO in Hoepner, and Illinois had their new CEO with Mr. Ron Zook. Both of these coaches run the spread offense… and played Iowa closer in 2005 than the score may have indicated. Oh, and Iowa’s long time foe still had their spread offense, blitzing CEO in Dan McCarney. McCarney dominated Iowa that year and had pretty much owned Ferentz since Ferentz was named CEO of Iowa in 1999. Northwestern also was becoming a well oiled spread offense machine. They also upset Kirk Ferentz Hawkeyes. And a blue chipper, the Ohio State University had recently changed to a spread attack. They absolutely embarrassed Iowa in 2005. Iowa’s offense also had seemed to become more predictable. It just seemed like things weren’t clicking like they used to.

Iowa fans didn’t see it coming, but the rest of the Big 10 industry did. The other Big 10 CEO’s knew how Ferentz had become so successful, but they also had evidence and a BLUE PRINT now for attacking Iowa. Ferentz was in a bad situation because almost half of the Big 10 did not fit the mold for his master plan. Half of the Big 10 had changed, half of the Big 10 had Adapted.

In 2006 the competitors officially rolled out the blue print. Iowa had its worst year in years. Iowa struggled again against this “NEW BRAND” of football. There were several teams that ran this new brand (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, NW, Ohio State). Iowa’s offense also seemed to be getting worse again. Some CEO’s and employees of other companies actually started to laugh at Iowa’s “Brand”. They said how simple it was to just follow the blue print.

After the 2006 debacle, the board members (fans) started to scratch their heads. Half of the fans were getting restless, while half were still behind Ferentz 100%. Ferentz promised change in 2007. Ferentz said this is not acceptable at Iowa Football. The fans who backed Ferentz tried to blame the head employee because they said he showed too much emotion. The fans tried to say that the employees were young. Yet, Iowa had just put together arguable its best stretch of employee recruiting in years… Fans tried to blame the management (KOK, NORM). What the fans don’t realize is that the management has to operate within the CEO’s direction.

Well now we are here in 2007. MN ousted their head coach for a spread option CEO. The Big 10 is now officially a totally different animal than what it was when Ferentz entered. IOWA’s “BRAND” of football is stale. It’s outdated. It’s not successful anymore.

2007 has shown very little change. Iowa Football has upgraded employee talent (DJK, ect.), but still management still chooses to go elsewhere for labor. Iowa never fires an employee for performance related reasons. Once a worker, always a worker no matter how you perform. The only way you get fired is for legal issues or injuries. Younger players don’t buy into the system anymore, and some of them have left or transferred. Employee turnover is at an all time high.

Recommendation. For those board members who are calling for new management (offensive, defensive coord).. does this mean hire new ones with the same philosophies?

My recommendation is that Mr. CEO Ferentz has to get an offensive coordinator who runs the spread option and a defensive coordinator who knows how to defend the spread option. This isn’t some fad offense…... This is what college football is moving towards and eventually will largely become. The days of QB under center and smash mouth football are coming to an end. The days of tier two teams winning without mobile quarterbacks who can rack up rushing yards is over. Football is going through what the wishbone/triple option went through two decades ago. Teams with less talent on average have to differentiate themselves. You can’t try to sell SUV’s when that’s what the blue chip companies are selling. You have to find a niche and attack the markets weakness. Hiring new management with the same overall philosophies as our current ones won’t do anything. We need new management for the “new era” of college football that is looming, and is already half way here. If Ferentz refuses to do this, he needs to be fired as CEO.



My take: Ferentz has earned more time and patience, but changes are needed.

Next up, Huxley Fire and Rescue sent this one in following the Iowa at Iowa State football game:

As an emergency responder (firefighter, EMT) I was frustrated and then extremely offended to learn that fans from the game, ordered down highway 69, were giving the finger to law enforcement officers and medical personnel. I realize, that traveling a two lane highway delayed further fan celebration and slowed returning home. I also realize, this can be very frustrating. What was lost in this frustration was that four people had died.
These fans actions were disrespectful to law enforcement, EMS, firefighters, victims and their families. They optimize the belief that such inconveniences are intolerable and unacceptable. How dare you ruin our day?


Yet, these fans inconvenience, when compared to the suffering of the families, and the sacrifices of all emergency responders, was the smallest price paid, and in the grand scheme of things, fades to insignificance.

It seems appropriate these fans should be burdened by shame, equivalent, to the amount of grief the families are feeling. If only for a moment, to give them pause and reflection. Perhaps, in this moment of clarity, they will find, in their cold black hearts, some level of compassion and understanding.

So sit on the highway, and be thankful it wasn't you, or better yet, say a prayer for a grieving family, and realize that a slight delay, even if it were hours, has cost you nothing. Sit there and thank God that emergency responders and law enforcement officers will go above and beyond, if it were you in need of help. Don't curse us or make gestures at us. Realize that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we are there for you also.

My take: thank God for fire and rescue workers.

The guys with www.savecy.com sent me this after Jamie Pollard unveiled Iowa State's new football uniforms and identity:

1. We believe the majority of Cyclone Nation wants to keep Cy on the helmet or at least have him as a choice. Responses to requests to sign our petition (which is now over 1,600 signatures) reflect this with over 90% of those asked to sign actually signing.

2. This was billed as a helmet logo change when in fact it was an Athletics identity change. Cyclone Nation was not aware of this fact when they were made aware of the three logo choices and we don't feel that is fair.

3. To say that Cy is not going away is laughable. No one that we know ever believed that we would no longer be called the Cyclones or that the mascot squad would stop dressing up as Cy at public events and SaveCy.com has never suggested that. The fact of the matter is that everywhere you currently see the Cy logo you will be instead see the I-State logo if this change is made, so the mascot squad dressing up as Cy will be the only place you will see our mascot. At best this is a dramatic downplaying of Cy, at worst it is a complete removal of Cy from the ISU Athletics identity.

4. All of the arguments for making this logo change as presented by the Athletic Department are refuted on
www.savecy.com. Log on for yourself to see the other side of the issue and to sign the petition.


My take: I appreciate the passion, but the new look is sharp.

Let these guys know how you feel. I know you will.

Keith


8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm on board with the SaveCy Guys. I'm a proud Iowa State graduate and thought the three choices for helmets were BORING! I like the redesign of the uniforms and the return to more traditional colors but why can't we do that and keep Cy in our logo? This seems like an effort to get in the news during what they had to know was going to be a rough football season and attempt to boost those AD revenues with some new logo emblazoned t-shirt sales.

Get your Idaho State…sorry, Illinois…whoops I-State t-shirts. Who the heck is I-State? And who’s identifying with such a stale logo?

Cy’s my guy!

Deur
Chicago

Anonymous said...

Was it me or did Christensen look nervous every time they snapped him the ball? He looked like he had "happy feet" and didn't know what to do.

Shawn said...

As a Hawkeye fan I have to admit that the Cy logo is pretty cool looking. Going to the "I State" thing is a definate step backward.
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Christensen looked like a guy playing in his first year as a starting quarterback in the Big 10. Give him time and I think he will be a great QB.
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What the Iowa football program needs more than anything is a little shake up at the top. I would like to see a new offensive/defensive coordinator or Ferentz making more of the play calls. Things have gotten stale and they need to shake it up. They also need to bring back the "Break the Rock" mentality.(spelling)

Anonymous said...

what is Cy anyway? A twisty red cardinal? It's about time they ditch that cartoon bird that only exists for the mere purpose of having a mascot. Could you imagine a guy in tights wearing a tornado head? So the new uniforms are good. If you want to play like a champion, dress like a champion, right? As in "let's look just like USC. Maybe some moron recruits will get us confused and drive 4,000 miles to the wrong state."

Anonymous said...

Dat dere Junior car got a new alternator in it. It oughtta help him turn that #2 turn quicker. Bobby Labonte also got some new titanium lug nutz that should help align his steering a little better. Puh-lease! Give me a break! NASCAR sucks and is a joke! It's just like the WWE, stupid, pointless, and SCRIPTED. The next thing you know you'll be hearing the announcer say, "Oh no! Someone's running out onto the track! Someone is running into Tony Stewart's pit. He grabs Tony Stewart and throws him out of the car! What's going on? Wait a second...It's K-FED! K-Fed just knocked Tony Stewart out and is no driving Stewarts car! I can't believe it!" Whatever....

Anonymous said...

Question to Hawkeye fans. What if your AD replaced the tigerhawk with a big gold "I"? Just curious.

I know Cy's not going away but Cy and Herky are part of the tradition and the identification of the universities. Why lessen that?

Anonymous said...

I am appalled that people - Iowans, no less - would treat law enforcement the way they did. If any blog readers are one of the guilty, I hope you're terribly ashamed of yourselves.

As for the rest of these letters... Well, Murph, you're a better person than I am for going through them at all.

Wish I had the kind of free time some of these letter-writers seem to have!

Cheers,
Dan

Anonymous said...

That's why we don't have an AD like Pollard. Anyways, as a Hawkeye fan, I think it would be kind of nice for a little change. I mean, we could keep the tigerhawk logo, but just take it off of the uniforms. I would have no problem with that whatsoever.