Pioli's hiring revives Ferentz-to-NFL rumors

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When the Cleveland Browns hired Eric Mangini as their head coach, it seemed like Iowa fans could exhale, knowing Kirk Ferentz wasn't going anywhere.

But with the Kansas City Chiefs hiring Ferentz's good friend Scott Pioli as general manager on Tuesday, the rumors have heated up again. Though Herm Edwards remains the Chiefs coach for now, it's widely believed he will be dismissed as Pioli picks his own head man. New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo should get a look, but Ferentz has reportedly been one of Pioli's top choices from the start.

The Kansas City Star reported that Ferentz is telling close associates that he plans to stay at Iowa for 2009. The general consensus among Iowa media seems to be that Ferentz likely will remain with the Hawkeyes, though it wouldn't be a total shock if he returns to the NFL.

The Iowa City Press-Citizen's Pat Harty writes:

"Ferentz has given his kids 10 years of stability. My guess is that if he really wanted to leave, his kids would give him their blessing and support. A situation like this might not come again -- the chance to work with a close friend on a professional level. And remember, Ferentz will turn 54 in August. He's nowhere close to being over the hill, but he can see the hill approaching.

But on the flipside, Ferentz would be faced with a daunting task if he joined forces with Pioli. The Chiefs finished 2-14 last season despite playing in a bad division. All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez is getting old, and everybody else on the team is mediocre at best. If Ferentz didn't get things turned around in three seasons, Pioli might be forced to get rid of him, which could put a strain on their relationship.

It ultimately could come down to whether Ferentz wants to deal with this kind of challenge at this stage of his coaching career. He doesn't need the money, but does he need the challenge?"

I've never really understood the challenge aspect for college coaches who want to coach in the pros. College football seems to provide enough of a challenge, particularly with recruiting.

Ferentz has a good gig in Iowa City. He makes great coin. He stabilized the program this season after a string of poor performances on and off the field. And his team will be a contender for the Big Ten title in 2009.

Though I agree 10 years is a long time and the NFL remains an exciting prospect for a coach, staying at Iowa seems like the sensible move for Ferentz.