Dear Players, Coaches, Gary and Kirk:

Thank you. Every last one of you. I've been reflecting back on this year... all of it. What a great ride it's been.

240 days from the first game of the year, on January 8, you released a two-deep. Admittedly, at that time, I couldn't figure out what you guys were doing. Looking back, I know at least in part, you were sending a message to the team and the fans. This isn't going to continue. We're changing quarterbacks. We're changing a lot. Did you ever.

Visits to other campuses spurred changes, including morning practices, which obviously were embraced. Expectations on September 5 weren't lofty. However, it didn't take long for all of us to realize that indeed things had changed. The team looked different. It was hard to put a finger on it that September day, but it was visible to Iowa fans... even if it took you 'til December to pass the "eye test" of the national media.

Throughout the season, the word "leader" was used over and over to describe new starting quarterback, C.J. Beathard. As fans, we love him and with that word (leader) constantly coming up, it's clear his teammates do too. C.J. played through injuries that were never totally explained but clearly caused him intense pain. He wasn't alone. It forced "next man in" at running back with injuries to Jordan Canzeri and LeShun Daniels and on the offensive line, just to name a couple spots. Whoever went in did the job, every single time, and the team kept rolling and our excitement kept growing.

What a year you've had:

  • The first 12-0 regular season in Iowa history.
  • A Big 10 Championship game that left me with one of the strangest feelings I've ever had as a sports fan. I expected to be devastated but instead I was PROUD. You guys had given so much, being disappointed in you or the loss just wasn't an option.
  • Another Consensus All-American (Desmond King) but this was truly a TEAM effort all the way through.
  • Tremendous leadership that united for change, and returned Hawkeye football to the nation's upper echelon.
  • A Rose Bowl appearance for the first time in 25 years.
  • Kirk Ferentz... the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year.

Kirk, I put you last on the list of people I addressed this letter to and listed you last above on purpose. I know you'd have it no other way. You never want to take any credit. In 17 seasons, you're just 16 wins shy of tying Hayden Fry as Iowa's all-time winningest coach. No one talks about that and you wouldn't even think of mentioning it. Your teams are never cocky when they win. They don't mouth off. They don't point fingers when they lose. They work hard. As Iowans, the team is a perfect fit for a state filled with nose-to-the-grindstone people. We may not be fancy, but we get the job done.

One other thing guys... that Rose Bowl trophy would look awful good in Iowa City. I know you're housing a ton of trophies, but there's always room for one more. No matter what happens Friday, thank you for a season none of us will ever forget.

Let's Go Hawks... beat Stanford!