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Outback notebook

Iowa Hawkeyes star Shonn Greene turning pro

TAMPA — As Iowa's players and coaches walked off the field, bowl winners for the first time in four years, a familiar cheer came up from yellow-and-black fans at Raymond James Stadium: "One more year!" they chanted.

They were pleading to junior running back Shonn Greene, who earned bowl MVP honors, rushing for 121 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-10 romp over South Carolina. But with Greene, projected as high as the second round, announcing on the field that he's entering the NFL draft, could the same plea now be directed to Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz?

Ferentz, a former NFL assistant whose name comes up nearly annually as NFL coaching vacancies appear, is reported as a possibility for the Cleveland Browns, should Patriots general manager Scott Pioli take over there. He did not specifically deny interest in the possibility in addressing the issue.

"Scott's a great friend of mine, and I think it's a mutual thing," Ferentz said on the field after Thursday's game. "It's presumptuous to think anybody knows what he's doing right now. He and I haven't talked in three weeks. We've both been doing our jobs. I've got a great job at Iowa. I've said it many, many times. The people are fantastic and I feel very, very fortunate."

To be or not Tebow: At least twice during bowl week, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said he hoped quarterback Stephen Garcia would someday issue a "Tim Tebow" statement about vowing to outwork every quarterback in the country.

Tebow, of course, made that emotional pledge following the Gators' midseason loss to Mississippi, and Florida hasn't come close to losing since. Garcia's response?

"I guess it's kind of tough to make that when you're not playing full time and stuff, but I'm going to try to work as hard as possible. Whether it's like Tebow or not, that's not up to me. I'm just going to do what I have to do and that's what I can do."

Empty seats abound: The announced attendance was 55,117, the lowest for an Outback Bowl since 2000 and seventh-lowest in its 23 years. The actual turnstile count was 48,129, according to the Tampa Sports Authority. Since the weather was ideal, the matchup (at least on paper) intriguing and the Spurrier/Garcia factors a bonus, the economy is the likely scapegoat.

Odds and ends: All 13 of Iowa's opponents this season failed to score on their opening drives. … South Carolina WR Kenny McKinley (six catches, 86 yards) extended his school-record receptions streak to 43 games — the fourth-longest active streak nationally. … South Carolina was penalized a season-high (and school bowl record) 10 times for 100 yards. … Counting a regular-season-ending 55-0 rout of Minnesota, Iowa scored 86 consecutive points. The Hawkeyes built a 31-0 lead Thursday. … For the season, Iowa scored on 31 of its last 32 red-zone possessions. It was 5-for-5 inside the red zone Thursday. … South Carolina senior CB Stoney Woodson, a Middleton graduate, had two tackles in the loss and Iowa sophomore CB Lance Tillison (Armwood) had one tackle … Iowa freshman running back Jeff Brinson, a Northeast graduate, dressed for the game but did not play. He's redshirting this season and will compete with freshman Jewel Hampton (54 yards) for the starting job next year. … Both head coaches have sons on their roster. Spurrier's son Scott did not play, but Ferentz's son, James, did.

Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.

Iowa Hawkeyes star Shonn Greene turning pro 01/01/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 1, 2009 8:15pm]
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