RIVERSIDE, Ia. — If you can impress Kirk Ferentz enough to marry his daughter, you can certainly make a convincing case that you have what it takes to work for the Iowa football coach.
Tyler Barnes already defied the odds when he won the heart of Joanne Ferentz. Last week, his father-in-law tapped him to be the Hawkeyes’ new director of recruiting.
“He was working for us before they started dating,” Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday before the Washington County I-Club gathering at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. “(Joanne) told her mom she was always going to stay away from football people. She didn’t want any part of this life. So life’s ironies are funny.”
Barnes spent four years on Ferentz’s staff in support roles before marrying the coach’s daughter and heading to Vanderbilt for three seasons, the past two as director of player personnel.
He returns to Iowa City to assume a newly-created position after Kelvin Bell was promoted to a recruiting coordinator/defensive assistant role. Barnes, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Iowa, was subject to the university’s nepotism policy, meaning he reports not to Ferentz, but to athletic director Gary Barta.
“I don’t have to worry about trust issues there. It would be really counterproductive for him to not be all in,” Ferentz said of the hire. “They went through the nepotism stuff, which I appreciate that, but what we do is really competitive. It would really be counterintuitive to hire people who aren’t going to try to benefit and enhance our program. Any time we hire a coach, support personnel, we’re trying to get the guys best qualified to work at our place.”
Ferentz said it is that familiarity with the Hawkeye program that will serve Barnes well. It also helps that he has experience evaluating talent with an underdog SEC program.
“If you want to look at cutting edge, certainly the SEC for sure. They’re up against it every day,” Ferentz said.
In other topics, Ferentz said:
- Wide receiver Andre Harris has decided to transfer from the team. The junior from Kirkwood, Mo., did not catch a pass last season. Also, reserve defensive back Omar Truitt has left the program. He was charged with drunken driving in February.
- He was surprised, but not shocked, that only one Hawkeye was selected in last weekend’s NFL Draft — offensive lineman Austin Blythe in the seventh round to Indianapolis. “Last year’s class didn’t set a record for NFL draft picks,” Ferentz said. “What they do have, they have ownership in a 12-win season. That really speaks highly of the leadership that they gave us." Ferentz said he expects Blythe to have a long, productive career. He also said he spoke to defensive end Drew Ott twice Tuesday and that he remains in good spirits despite not being drafted after battling two injuries last season and losing an appeal for a fifth year of eligibility. “It’s all about him getting healthy right now,” Ferentz said. ”Maybe the game has passed me by, I think Drew is one heck of a football player. … Somebody to me would be wise to sign him. If I was an NFL guy, I would have done it now. Because once they sign you they own you.”
- He’s excited about hosting Michigan in a prime-time game Nov. 12. Iowa may be in line for more night games when the Big Ten Network announces its schedule. “It’s good for our players, recognition-wise,” Ferentz said. “I think the teams get a little more excited playing under the big spotlight.”