Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara warms up before scrimmaging during Kids' Day at Kinnick at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa

Starter worry? Hawkeyes QB Cade McNamara not back from injury

Cade McNamara missed practice for the 11th consecutive day with a leg injury, and the Iowa starting quarterback isn’t the only player at the position hurting.

Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday that McNamara — dealing with a leg muscle issue since the team’s Aug. 12 scrimmage — might be cleared to join the team on the field by the end of this week. If so, it would give him ample time to prepare for the season opener. Iowa hosts Utah State on Sept. 2.

“The good news is I think he has a chance to start working in towards the end of this week,” Ferentz said. “Certainly by next Monday when we hit the field thinking about our opponent … we’ll know more at the end of the week, but I’m optimistic and we’ll see.”

McNamara’s backup, Joe Labas, has also been idle with injuries. Wisconsin transfer Deacon Hill, who has never thrown a pass in a college game, is the lone healthy quarterback in fall camp. Labas was 10 of 24 in Iowa’s Music City Bowl victory.

McNamara was hurt scrambling away from pressure outside of the pocket during the public scrimmage.

The Michigan transfer landed in Iowa City in December. He began the 2022 season as the Wolverines’ starting quarterback, but a season-ending knee injury Sept. 17 cleared the path for J.J. McCarthy to guide Michigan back to the College Football Playoff.

McNamara led Michigan to its first College Football Playoff appearance in 2021, also bringing a Big Ten title to Ann Arbor for the first time since 2004. Michigan was 12-2.

McNamara, named an offensive captain in August 2022, started the opener against Colorado State on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Jul 26, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz speaks to the media during the Big 10 football media day at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz calls on NCAA to address gambling policy

Gambling falls outside the interests of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, a topic he is getting up to speed on as the Hawkeyes begin the 2023 season.

At least 26 University of Iowa athletes across five sports are suspected of wagering on sports in violation of NCAA rules, the school confirmed in May. How many of them are part of the football program isn’t known.

Defensive tackle Noah Shannon was not alongside Ferentz as originally planned on Wednesday at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis because of an ongoing NCAA investigation into Iowa players in multiple sports allegedly betting on game. Ferentz said “it’s not a large number of players, period,” when asked how his roster might be impacted by any ruling on the matter from the NCAA and called on the governing body of college athletics to take a closer look at the intersection of sports and gambling.

“Long story short, we don’t know what the outcome is going to be,” Ferentz said. “I don’t think anyone condones gambling, especially on the college game. I do think that being said, I have learned a lot the past two months just about gambling. I never really paid attention to it, other than we signed a form, probably the same form we signed when I was playing.”

Athletes, coaches and staff are prohibited from betting on any amateur, collegiate and professional sport in which the NCAA conducts a championship.

That means even NBA, NFL, MLB and PGA-related betting would be among pro sports wagering options that, while legal in many states, would be off-limits for college athletes, coaches and administrators.

It is also illegal in Iowa for a person under 21 to bet on sports.

“I think our world has changed dramatically,” Ferentz said. “Anybody who does pay attention to gambling knows that better than I — certainly the last couple of years. We live in a real different world right now. I think what the NFL’s done with their rules makes a lot of sense. I’m hopeful this is an opportunity with the NCAA to maybe reconsider two things: what the, quote-unquote, punishments or penalties might be that are … I would say, fair and relevant to the world we’re living in right now. And then probably the bigger thing is there’s an opportunity right now, I think, for better education process, if you will.”

Ferentz said he is not among viewers of ESPN’s popular pregame show “College GameDay,” but one of his sons informed him the college football kickoff show discusses betting lines and point spreads before games. Ferentz pointed this out Wednesday as an “illustration of the world we’re living in right now. It’s not going away. It’s going to continue to grow.”

In his 25th season as Iowa head coach, Ferentz equated his role in educating athletes about gambling to the same approach he might have with marijuana-use policies.

“Gambling is going to exist. It always has,” Ferentz said. “I hope eventually the policies will reflect what’s best for college athletics. Certainly not betting on college athletics would be a good starting point.”

Shannon, a fifth-year senior, started 27 games over the past two seasons and is on the radar of NFL scouts after being named honorable mention All-Big Ten in 2021 and 2022.

–Field Level Media

Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Ferentz, left, talks with Iowa quarterback Alex Padilla (8) during a NCAA football game against Ohio State, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

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Iowa amends contract of embattled OC Brian Ferentz

Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Ferentz, the son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, signed an amended contract for 2023 with new performance-based incentives on Monday.

The university said in a release that Brian Ferentz’s salary will be $850,000, a $50,000 pay cut from last season, and added bonuses tied to objectives that “include an average of at least 25 points per game and a minimum of seven wins, including regular season and a possible bowl game.”

The Hawkeyes averaged just 17.7 points per game in 2022, good for 123rd out of 131 FBS teams. They also ranked second to last in total offense with 251.6 yards per game. Iowa still went 8-5 (5-4 Big Ten) behind the strength of the defense.

A school spokesperson told Sports Illustrated that the points per game incentive includes “any points scored,” meaning defensive and special teams scores will also help Ferentz’s cause. Iowa had six defensive touchdowns and two safeties in 2022.

Iowa made no changes to its football coaching staff this offseason, and last week Kirk Ferentz danced around pointed questions about what makes his son a good offensive coordinator. He did say the offense was “not good enough.”

Help is on the way for the father and son. After Spencer Petras took most of the snaps at quarterback in 2022 and finished with just 1,725 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions, former Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara transferred to Iowa and figures to be the starter in 2023. McNamara needed a new starting job after the Wolverines ultimately stuck with J.J. McCarthy in 2022.

–Field Level Media

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) warms up during a NCAA football game against Iowa State, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Iowa, last in offense, sticks with QB Spencer Petras

The Iowa Hawkeyes rank last in the nation in both scoring and total offense, but coach Kirk Ferentz decided Tuesday to stick with quarterback Spencer Petras for Saturday’s nonconference game against visiting Nevada.

The Hawkeyes are averaging seven points and 158 yards per game, the latter easily the worst among the nation’s 131 FBS programs. Colorado State, ranked 130th, averages 232.5 yards.

Petras is just 23-of-51 passing (45.1 percent) for 201 yards, no touchdowns and two inceptions in the two games. Alex Padilla, who started three games last season when Petras was hurt, is the backup.

“We obviously spent a lot of time looking at it, considering it, talking about it,” Ferentz said at a Tuesday press conference. “It’s really tough to give an honest evaluation right now. I’ve talked to Alex about the same thing. No matter who’s in there right now, we’ve got some challenges, and we’ve got to work through those and try to improve in those, and then we’ll have a fairer way to assess.”

Petras passed for 1,880 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games (11 starts) last season. He was the named the 2022 starter shortly before the start of this season.

But Iowa (1-1) has scored just one touchdown in two games. The Hawkeyes beat South Dakota State 7-3 with a field goal and two safeties in the season opener and again struggled in last Saturday’s 10-7 loss to Iowa State.

Padilla threw for 636 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances (three starts) last season.

Iowa fans have been harshly critical of the offense — Brian Ferentz, son of the coach, is offensive coordinator — and the head coach has noticed.

“I’m not asking anybody to agree with me,” Kirk Ferentz said. “I’m guessing fans aren’t agreeing, and maybe the media, but everybody’s entitled to their opinions, I’m all for that. What our jobs are, and my job, ultimately, I’m the head coach, is to decide what’s best for our football team and our program. That’s my assessment at this point.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras (7) runs a drill during the Kids Day at Kinnick NCAA football practice, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

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Spencer Petras tabbed as Iowa’s starting QB

Spencer Petras will be the starting quarterback when Iowa opens the season against visiting South Dakota State on Saturday.

Petras outdueled Alex Padilla during fall camp to retain the position. They also battled during spring drills.

“It’s a long evaluation and we evaluate everything about our guys, starting in January,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday. “Both Spencer and Alex are both quality guys. But just the time on the field, I think Spencer has outperformed Alex a little bit at this point. I think he’s further ahead and gives us a better chance to be successful.”

Petras passed for 1,880 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 12 games (11 starts) last season. He also was a part-time starter in 2020 when he passed for 1,569 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.

“I’m excited to get out there,” Petras told reporters. “With experience, everything gets better. I’m really happy with how I’m throwing the ball right now. … The mental side of it gets easier as you go.”

Padilla threw for 636 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in nine appearances (three starts) last season.

Ferentz said he wouldn’t hesitate to use both quarterbacks.

“I think we have two quarterbacks that are better than they were a year ago,” Ferentz said. “Right now, we just got to try to support those guys, try to build a good team around them.”

–Field Level Media

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, center, reacts during a NCAA college football game in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl against Kentucky, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz receives extension through 2029

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz received a four-year extension through the 2029 season, the school announced Friday.

Ferentz, who had four seasons remaining on his current deal, will receive $56 million — $7 million annually — over the next eight seasons. He was slated to make $5.1 million next season before the extension.

The university said the 66-year-old Ferentz will receive $500,000 in base salary, $5.5 million in supplemental compensation and a $1 million longevity bonus each year until the deal expires on Jan. 31, 2030.

Ferentz will be 74 when the deal concludes. He just completed his 23rd season as coach of the Hawkeyes and is the nation’s longest-tenured coach.

“Kirk’s consistent leadership and success over 23 years has been amazing and appreciated as he has led our football program in a first-class manner,” athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement. “His success over the past 23 years speaks for itself. He is an asset to the University of Iowa and our athletics department as a whole. The foundation of his program is strong, and the future looks bright.”

Iowa went 10-4 in the just-completed season. The Hawkeyes reached the Big Ten title game before being routed 42-3 by Michigan and later lost 20-17 to Kentucky in the Citrus Bowl.

Overall, the Hawkeyes have recorded seven 10-wins season under Ferentz, who owns the school mark for victories. He is 178-110.

Ferentz replaced legendary Hayden Fry, who spent 20 years as coach beginning in 1979. If Ferentz completes the contract, Iowa will have had just two head coaches over a 51-season span.

“I am grateful to President Barb Wilson and athletics director Gary Barta for their continued support of our program,” Ferentz said in the news release. “I am proud of the success that we have achieved inIowa City the past 23 years and look forward to many more years of competing at the highest level.”

Iowa begins Ferentz’s 24th season on the job with a home game against South Dakota State on Sept. 3.

–Field Level Media

Aug 22, 2019; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) reacts during the first half against the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Patriots C Andrews undergoes thumb surgery

New England Patriots center David Andrews likely will miss Sunday’s game against the Las Vegas Raiders after undergoing right thumb surgery on his snapping hand, according to multiple reports.

The Patriots might place Andrews on injured reserve. That maneuver would require the 28-year-old to miss at least three games.

Andrews injured the thumb during Sunday’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks. He was seen on the Patriots practice field this week by reporters with a wrap on his right hand.

Andrews, a team captain, started the first two games this season after missing the entire 2019 season due to blood clots in his lungs. He has started 59 of 62 games played since entering the league with New England in 2015.

“He’s the piece that holds it all together as the center,” starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn said earlier this week. “With all his knowledge, he’s very reliable. When we don’t know something, he knows the answer to it. Just him being the key piece has been helpful and great.”

Second-year pro Hjalte Froholdt could be elevated to starting center. Froholdt, 24, has played nine special teams snaps this season but hasn’t seen any action on the offensive line since being New England’s fourth-round selection in 2019.

“He’s been able to be out on the field every day and work hard and continue to get better since we’ve had the opportunity to begin practicing,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Froholdt on Friday. “He’s still a young player that has a lot of room to grow and works very hard at it.”

Another option is promoting James Ferentz from the practice squad. Ferentz, 31, has played in 38 NFL games, including two starts last season — one at guard, one at center — for New England. He saw action in 21 games with the Denver Broncos in 2015-16 and 17 with the Patriots in 2018-19.

–Field Level Media