CHICAGO As the son of a prominent college football coach, James Ferentz grew up learning to comprehend that the pulse of a community was measured by the performance of his father's team on Saturdays each fall.
Win, and he could walk the school hallways on Monday with a smile. Lose, and a melancholy mood wafted through the city for days.
"When I was in elementary school, I don't think I understood how important the University of Iowa and the football program was to Iowa City and the state," Ferentz said during Big Ten media days last week. "I didn't ever really piece it together until junior high when kids would point out how good they were. That's when we started winning."
Fortunately for Ferentz, a starting center for Iowa's football team, the happy days have far outnumbered the sad ones during his time in Iowa City. Of course, the same can be said for his father, Kirk Ferentz, whose model for consistently winning teams now has made him the dean of Big Ten football coaches.