Night games take Ferentz back to his football roots

Rick Brown

BURLINGTON, Ia. – Night games are back at Kinnick Stadium this football season, and the added electricity and environment are something that's impossible to miss. Even for Iowa's head football coach.

"You notice," Kirk Ferentz said Thursday before an appearance at the Des Moines County I-Club. "You feel it when you come out of the locker room."

Iowa will play two 7 p.m. home games this season, against Pittsburgh on Sept. 19 and the Floyd of Rosedale game with Minnesota on Nov. 14. These will be the Hawkeyes' first night games at home since the 2012 season. They will also be the 11th and 12th night games in the history of Kinnick Stadium.

Besides the electricity generated from playing at night, these games also take Ferentz back to his football roots.

"For all of us, you go back to your high school days," Ferentz said. "It's a neat thing about playing on Friday nights. There's something special about that. I still enjoy going to high school games under the lights. It's a little bit of a nostalgia pill for all of us, coaches and players."

Ferentz has always been a fan of night games at home. He finds night road games, especially on the West Coast, not as enjoyable.

"They're exciting, no matter where you play them," Ferentz said. "It is a little bit easier if you can go home and go to bed afterwards."

The hardest part of road games for Ferentz is waiting for the game to start.

"That's for both teams," Ferentz said. "It's a long day in the hotel. Mentally, you have to have a plan and try to work that plan. Because you don't want to play the game during the day, that's for sure."

Iowa played three night games during the 2009 season. Three, Ferentz said, "is probably as many as you'd want."

There is a chance that Iowa could play a third night game during the 2015 season. The Hawkeyes' Sept. 12 game at Iowa State could still end up under the lights.

"If it is, it's at least in the state," said Ferentz, whose team always takes a bus to that game. "And the plane won't get delayed at the Tarmac."