Originally posted on Fox Sports Wisconsin
By JESSE TEMPLE  |  Last updated 11/2/13
IOWA CITY, Iowa --The last time I stepped inside Kinnick Stadium, Iowa's football program was anational laughingstock, ensnared in the longest losing streak in schoolhistory. Many have likely forgotten the lowest point in Hawkeyesfootball because of the drastic turnaround that has taken shape under headcoach Kirk Ferentz. But there was a time -- 13 years ago -- when reaching abowl game seemed as far out of reach as the heavens. It's true. I lived it. Over the course of two seasons, Iowa lost 13 consecutivegames -- all eight Big Ten contests to close 1999 and the first five games of2000, including a 27-21 home loss against Mid-American Conference foe WesternMichigan. So when I decided to attend Iowa's home game against No. 25Michigan State as a high school sophomore living in Iowa City way back on Oct.7, 2000, you can imagine where expectations stood. Ferentz, in his secondseason in charge, was still trying to restore the program to the same gloryexperienced under former coach Hayden Fry without nearly the same talent. On that brisk Saturday -- which featured an 11 a.m. kickofflike today's Iowa-Wisconsin game -- the Hawkeyes did more than put on acompetitive showing. Iowa receiver Kevin Kasper caught a 43-yard touchdown passfrom quarterback Jon Beutjer early in the fourth quarter, which decided thegame. Iowa would win 21-16, prompting a field storming unlike manythe program had ever seen. I, too, participated in the storming -- a decision Iquickly realized was a mistake considering the crush of football fans intent onpartying like it was 1999 (Iowa's last victory). All of us wanted to findKasper and his bleach-blond hair, to pat him on the back and, in our own way,thank him for finally brining joy to a city and a state after so much misery. "It reminded me of the time I went to a Pearl Jamconcert, getting trampled by the fans," linebacker LeVar Woods would sayafter the game. "You couldnt breathe. It was great." That day represented Ferentz's first Big Ten victory, and hewould be brought to near tears during the postgame press conference. He has won60 more conference games since and is 61-54 all-time in Big Ten games. This reflection is meant merely to point out the incrediblejob Ferentz has done during his tenure at Iowa. He has pushed Iowa from 1-10 to3-9 to 7-5 and a berth in the Alamo Bowl in 2001. The Hawkeyes have reached abowl game in 10 of the past 12 seasons and can clinch another bowl berth with avictory today against Wisconsin. Not many coaches can last at one school for as long asFerentz in this era. He is tied for the fourth-longest tenured head coach incollege football with Oklahoma's Bob Stoops. Only Frank Beemer (Virginia Tech,1987), Larry Blankeney (Troy, 1991) and Mack Brown (Texas, 1998) have been attheir respective schools longer. The Hawkeyes have fallen on occasional hard times over thepast decade, but it's hard to imagine Iowa football fans being desperate enoughto storm the field anymore. And Ferentz deserves much of the credit for being astabilizing force. Follow Jesse Temple on Twitter
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