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Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz takes aim at Lincoln Riley, USC football: ‘What is important is wins per game’

By most accounts, the Iowa football team had a successful 2023 season. The Hawkeyes won the Big Ten West Division, but the team’s lack of offensive production was a point of contention throughout the season.

Despite the offense’s woes, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz remains confident the style of football he believes in is still viable into today’s college football landscape. 

During a press conference Monday, Ferentz discussed the ongoing search to find an offensive coordinator. Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, previously handled offensive coordinator duties.

But the elder Ferentz tempered expectations by suggesting the next offensive coordinator might not have an impressive track record.

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Ferentz seems more concerned with winning games, rather than scoring a lot of points and potentially losing games. In fact, Ferentz seemed to take aim at a football coach who has developed several prolific offenses over the years.

Ferentz did not name coach Lincoln Riley or the USC football program in his critique, but his remarks made it clear which school and coach he was referencing.

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“I’m really not worried about points per game,” Ferentz began. “But what is important is wins per game.

“I think there’s a guy that entered the conference recently that came with widely acclaimed offensive stats and all that. That’s usually how those guys become well known because of whatever they’re doing — throwing it, running it, wishbone. But then you look a little deeper. So, what’s this guy’s wins per game?” Ferentz said. 

“There’s usually a correlation. People who just throw the ball around, it makes it tougher to win and makes it tougher to be good on defense.”

USC will depart the Pac-12 Conference and begin playing in the Big Ten Conference next year.

Ferentz then suggested USC will finally pivot and begin taking a different approach to defense.

“There’s a school on the west coast right now that’s gonna recommit to defense. They gave up 42 to Tulane last year in a bowl game at a place where Ronnie Lott played. So, now they’re gonna think about defense, you know?” Ferentz added.

USC lost 46-45 to Tulane in last season’s Cotton Bowl.

After a successful run at Oklahoma, which included three appearances in the College Football Playoff, Riley was named USC’s head coach ahead of the 2022 season.

The Trojans advanced to the Pac-12 championship game in 2022 under Riley, losing to Utah. USC finished with an 11-3 record last year. But the team faltered down the stretch this year and finished 7-5.

Riley still maintains a better career winning percentage than Ferentz, but it could be argued that Iowa had the better 2023 season.

 

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