IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany called University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz one of the best coaches in the country Thursday morning during a visit to Iowa City.
The 25-year commissioner is visiting all 12 conference institutions as part of a Fall Football Practice Tour. During the visit, UI director of athletics presented Delany a wooden, rocking chair in recognition of his service.
"Kirk has done a fabulous job here," said Delany. "They have not won as much as they would liked the last couple of years, but I think he is one of the great football coaches and leaders in the country. I am sure they'll be more competitive (this season)."
Delany talked about the difficulty of sustaining success, year-in-and-year-out. The Hawkeyes finished 4-8 in 2012 and weren't bowl eligible for the first time since 2000.
"One of the things I talking with Kirk about was the challenge of sustaining success," said Delany. "Michigan had a drop-off, but they were the only major team in the country to win eight games every year for 20-25 years. Sustainability is a difficult thing, it's rare to see."
Michigan is seeking its first Big Ten title, since 2004, as is Iowa.
#1 Alabama has won three of the last four BCS titles, but finished 4-9 in 2003 and 6-7 in 2006. #2 Ohio State was 6-7 in 2011.
Cycles do happen as Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder went 4-7 and 5-6 in 2004 and 2005, respectively. They welcomed a new coach for three years with little success or improvement, but with Snyder's return finished 10-3 and 11-2 the past two seasons, after 6-6 and 7-6.
After another wave of conference realignment hit in 2012-13, Delany says current expansion talk is calm. Maryland and Rutgers will begin conference play in 2014.
"People are spending their time on integrating and building," he said. "All of us have responsibility now that most of us are in two regions to build our conferences and fan base.
"(Big Ten) is feeling good about the growth and recognition in the eastern corridor. We have a lot of alums in that corridor."
Iowa and Nebraska have competed in The Heroes Game on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) in each of the past two seasons, and will meet on the same day through the 2017 season.
"We like to use that Friday if we can find a good game to put in it," said Delany. "Both Iowa and Nebraska have been willing to play, and I hope they stay open and flexible to it. I don't know where it goes in the future."
With increased television exposure, Delany says college football players are under more scrutiny in today's landscape than they have ever been in the past.
"I said make good decisions for yourself, make them for your teammates and family, have fun and take advantage of the great opportunities, both educational and athletics, the Big Ten provides," said Delany. "It will be the greatest time of your life, but realize, there will be a lot of scrutiny.
"You try to teach, lead and encourage them to make the decisions, and that's part of growing up, part of playing Big Ten football."
Iowa opens the regular season Aug. 31, hosting Northern Illinois inside Kinnick Stadium beginning at 2:30 p.m. (CT).