There is little doubt that the 2015 Iowa Hawkeyes football team is going to be part of program lore for the rest of time. Going 12-0 in the regular season and getting back to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1991 will have that effect.
On Monday, head coach Kirk Ferentz was rewarded for that season with a massive contract extension through 2026 and a bump in pay to an average of $4.5 million per season. What wasn’t known was if the Hawkeyes were also able to renegotiate the buyout in Ferentz’s contract.
Good news folks, because it appears that the buyout that has been an albatross around the neck of the athletic department has at least loosened up a bit. According to reports, and a copy of the actual contract, gone is the 100 percent base salary guarantee that was in the previous deal.
In its place is a deal that sees only two years of 100 percent guarantees, followed by three years (2019, 2020 and 2021) of 75 percent of his base pay and the final five years of the deal only owing him 50 percent of his contract should they terminate Ferentz.
The contract extension was a huge move for the Hawkeyes financially, but a gamble given Ferentz’s history. Getting the concession of a lesser buyout deal certainly helped the athletic department rest easier about the up front financial cost given the rocky history of results to work off of.
There has been plenty of evidence to suggest that under Kirk Ferentz those types of seasons like we saw in 2015 are the exception and not the norm. For every 10-plus win season (4 to be exact) there are as many if not more 7 wins or fewer seasons in the Ferentz era (seven to be exact).
After a five-year spell that saw the Hawkeyes go from winning 11 games in 2009 to finding a losing season just a few years later and nothing more than eight wins up until the 2015 season may were restless about the size, length and details of Ferentz’s contract in relation to the results on the field.
Some argue that the contract is the only reason why athletic director Gary Barta didn’t release Ferentz following a 4-8 season in 2012 or after two sub-par seasons following that one.
With the announcement of this new deal, both sides get exactly what they need and want. Ferentz can hopefully dictate the terms of his retirement and if worst comes to worst, Iowa isn’t on the hook for nearly as much of a financial burden as it was before.
Both sides have freedom, and Hawkeyes fans have to be happy to see that.