Posted on: September 2, 2010 8:16 pm
Edited on: September 2, 2010 11:30 pm

Kirk Ferentz's contract extension through 2020

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The Iowa Hawkeyes have just announced that Kirk Ferentz will be receiving a mammoth contract extension. The deal will push Ferentz's salary to over $4 million a year after incentives, which would make him the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten (at least, until Jim Tressel gets an extension).

The deal is good through 2020, which is not only a nice vote of confidence in Ferentz, but in effect a lifetime deal. Ferentz will turn 65 before the 2020 season, and it would be his 21st season at the helm of the Hawkeyes. If Ferentz stays that long, not only would he be the closest thing to a "lifer" in the Big Ten since Joe Paterno, but he'd also likely be extended through his 70th birthday for recruiting's sake. Big "if," of course, but Iowa's administration is making that invitation public now.

Now, some might look at the deal and wonder why Iowa's rewarding a coach whose seat was starting to get warm just three years ago and who's never made it to a Rose Bowl. But the reality of the situation is that Iowa's not an Ohio State or Michigan, and they don't have the institutional and traditional advantages a powerhouse would have. They're closing that gap year by year, mind you, but nobody would argue that Iowa's program is at the highest level yet. They've never played for a national championship, and they're usually not national championship contenders.

But what they can do is invest in a coach like a championship contender, and it's worked for the Iowa program so far. At the first sign of Ferentz's success in 2002, it was generally assumed that he would bolt either to an elite college program or the NFL, because Iowa wasn't considered a "destination school." Now, today, it certainly appears that Iowa is among those destination schools.

Posted on: September 1, 2010 10:11 pm

Big Ten division winners and losers

Posted by Adam Jacobi

The new Big Ten alignment doesn't come into effect until 2011, but who comes out the best and worst among conference members?

Winners: Most of the conference, actually. Michigan and Ohio State keep their end-of-season rivalry, and they're each the marquee members of their own divisions. If they're not to meet for the title, then effectively nothing has changed about their tradition; if they do, then so much the better, as far as the Big Ten's coffers go. Penn State and Nebraska are the second in command in their respective divisions, and they get to start a protected rivalry with each other that's sure to move needles for television rating. Northwestern and Illinois have an annual game guaranteed, plus their own divisions in which to play spoiler--and Wildcats fans must be especially pleased that they've now got an annual divisional game against the Hawkeyes in what's rapidly becoming a contentious showdown. Minnesota gets to be in a very geographically friendly division, and they get to play for every one of their trophies every year.

We'll call it a draw: Iowa and Purdue have no reason to be protected rivals, and Delany's explanation that "both teams have won conference titles recently" is at best a non sequitur. But Iowa was rewarded with a season-ending game against Nebraska, to the delight of both fanbases, and Purdue has all the protected games they could have asked for. Likewise, Michigan State-Indiana is a total head-scratcher, but at the very least, each team stays in the same division as their in-state rivals.  

Losers: Holy hell, must Wisconsin be upset about this new alignment. Consider A) that the Badgers were the only team in the Big Ten without a season-ending rivalry game up until Nebraska showed up, and B) the amount of work Barry Alvarez has done as the de facto mouthpiece of the conference during realignment talk. Surely the Big Ten would reward the Badgers, yes? Au contraire, bonjour: Wisconsin's request to get a rivalry game with Nebraska was flat-out denied, and the Badgers don't even share a division or protected rivalry with historical rivals Iowa anymore. Oh, also, they're in a league with Ohio State and Penn State, a top twosome that seems much tougher than Michigan or Nebraska do for the near future. Nobody's got more beef than the Badgers about this lineup.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com