Athletic directors are in a no-win situation when they're asked about their struggling coach's future. Assuming they won't announce on the spot that they're firing the coach, all they can do is give a vote of confidence that will be derided as a sure sign that means the coach will be fired. The "dreaded vote of confidence" and all.
Well, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz got the vote of confidence. Now it's on us to figure out if it's legitimate or the sign that Ferentz is on the ropes.
"Obviously, we're not playing very well right now," Iowa athletic director Gary Barta told HawkCentral.com. "We'll get ready for next week. I have full support for Kirk [Ferentz] and the players."
We have a pretty tough time believing Ferentz is in that much trouble. Iowa is 4-4, and 2-2 in Big Ten, which isn't an Auburn-sized debacle or anything. The Hawkeyes are coming off a blowout loss at home to Penn State and a pretty uncompetitive loss at Northwestern, which surely isn't sitting well with Hawkeyes fans, and Iowa is just 15-11 over the past two seasons, but who is Iowa going to get better than Ferentz?
There's also the buyout issue. Iowa compensated Ferentz with a mindblowing contract for his success. Ferentz has a reported 10-year, $40 million contract that runs through 2020. If the Hawkeyes fire him, he gets 75 percent of his annual guaranteed compensation over the rest of his contract, to be paid in monthly installments (it's hard to believe any school would agree to that kind of clause, but here's the copy of the contract, via HawkCentral.com). Paying 75 percent of that compensation through 2020 is a lot of money for a fired coach.
So it's pretty safe to assume that Barta's vote of confidence can be taken at face value.
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