IOWA CITY, Iowa – 2010 marks the final season that the University of Iowa is contractually obligated to allow Northwestern to upset their football team. When Pat Fitzgerald took over the Northwestern program in 2006, Kirk Ferentz was one of the first coaches to congratulate him.
“I remember I hadn’t been head coach for about 30 minutes when Kirk called to give me his best,” recalled Fitzgerald. “He could not have been nicer. He asked if there was anything he could do for me. I didn’t think he was serious.”
Fitzgerald took Ferentz up on his offer and asked for something most new coaches wouldn’t – a break. “I said ‘anything?’ and he said ‘yes Pat, anything’, so I asked him if we could beat him for the first five seasons.”
Ferentz’s memories of the conversation are similar. “I really wanted to help him out. I mean, it’s Northwestern and the rest of the Big Ten sort of feels sorry for them. The athletes are smart but they aren’t very good. I wanted to give him a welcome gift,” said Iowa’s head coach.
Ferentz recalls he was impressed that Fitzgerald was not shy at all in asking for such a big favor. “Pat was very kind when he asked me, and in his defense I did say I would do anything.”
Starting in 2011 Iowa will resume it’s ritual beating of Northwestern into a pulp. Also in 2011 a similar pact between Joe Patrerno and Kirk Ferentz will expire and Iowa will resume losing to Penn State.