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Iowa Hawkeyes' Ferentz prepares for Outback Bowl, denies NFL interest

TAMPA — Every year, there's a batch of fresh NFL head-coaching openings, and every year, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz insists he shouldn't be mentioned as a candidate.

"It's pretty much the same as always," Ferentz said Sunday in anticipation of Monday's multiple firings. "I thought this was one year we wouldn't have to talk about it. I thought last year we wouldn't have to talk about it when we were sitting at home."

Ferentz has been at Iowa for 10 seasons, but his success and his NFL experience — he spent 1993-98 as offensive line coach in Cleveland and Baltimore — makes him a popular speculative choice. Asked about personnel changes with the Browns, he said it's the nature of NFL coaching.

"Bullets are flying in Cleveland, in at least 10 cities in the NFL. It's just a matter of who gets hit with some shrapnel and who doesn't," said Ferentz, preparing for Thursday's Outback Bowl against South Carolina. "In the NFL, or in college football, it's fair to say that if anything surprises you, any movement at all in coaching, you're probably not paying attention."

STINGY: Norm Parker, Ferentz's defensive coordinator at Iowa for 10 years, had the same role at Vanderbilt and had relative success against Steve Spurrier's Gators teams. The Commodores lost in 1996 and 1997 but held Florida to 28 and 20 points, the second-lowest scoring total for the Gators in each season.

He remembers the challenge of preparing for an offensive innovator like Spurrier, now the South Carolina coach.

"The guy will do anything," Parker said. "He's going to have a lot of formation. He's not afraid to do things, because he's a very confident guy. … It's different, but it's Steve Spurrier."

THIS AND THAT: Guests at South Carolina's practice included Tampa Bay Storm coach Tim Marcum, Bucs special teams coach Rich Bisaccia and Tommy Shannon, a Gators QB from 1962-64. … To get from their locker room to the showers at the University of Tampa after practice, players must briefly walk outside wearing nothing but towels. That's okay, because it's 70 degrees warmer in Tampa than it was when Iowa left campus.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346.

.Fast facts

Outback Bowl

Who: Iowa (8-4) vs. South Carolina (7-5)

When/where: 11 a.m. Thursday; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa

Tickets: $65; through

Ticketmaster outlets and www.ticketmaster.com and at (813) 287-8844.

TV: ESPN

Iowa Hawkeyes' Ferentz prepares for Outback Bowl, denies NFL interest 12/29/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 29, 2008 10:39pm]
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