Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz and his Outback Bowl counterpart, Les Miles, spoke with each other for the first time since their teams were invited to the Jan. 1 event in Tampa. They were cordial and complimentary of each other and their respective programs.
"Hey Coach Ferentz, this is Les Miles. I just wanted to greet you and say I look forward to competing against you," the LSU Coach said in his opening. "You've always run a quality program. We know each other in passing as you know. Again, I look forward to seeing you in Tampa."
Said Ferentz: "This is Kirk. Congratulations to you guys, too, on a great year and an outstanding team. We look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks here."
The coaches were then asked if their Outback opponent reminded them of any team in their league.
"As far as comparison, I'm not always good at that," Ferentz said. "I do know that we had the chance to compete against LSU years ago (2005 Captial One Bowl). That was Coach (Nick) Saban's last game and Les took over the program and has done a wonderful job with them. I've watched them through the years. I would echo Les' comments. I don't see any weakness on their football team."
Miles also steared clear of a direct comparison for the Hawkeyes in the SEC. "Who they remind me of in our league? They remind me of any of the very, very quality guys that we've lined up against. They can run the football and play defense. From the very top to the very bottom, they're very talented. Again, we're looking forward to the competition."
After a 4-8 season in 2012, Iowa rebounded for an 8-4 mark and second-place finish in the Big Ten's Legends Dvision.
""Iowa is a tremendous defensive team; a team that can run the football, has balance, can throw it as well," Miles said. "It's no surprise that they're on a hot streak until the end of the season. We;re going to have to play well to do the things we want to do in this game."
The Tigers landed at No. 16 in the BCS rankings that were released Sunday. They put together a 9-3 season and were the only team to defeat Auburn, who is playing Florida State for the national Championship next month.
"They're always good on defense; very talented; very well coached," Ferentz said. "Offensively, same thing. I do know that they unfortunately lost their quarterback (Zach Mettenberger) and that's something you hate to see for any young player, certainly, but in his senior year that's a real misfortune.
"We know they're going to be talented. We know they're going to be very well coached. They've done a great job in the SEC. Just look at their results this year. The fact that they're the only team to beat Auburn, that probably starts and ends the discussion right there."
Mettenberger tore his ACL in LSU's season finale against Arkansas. Freshman Anthony Jennings came off of the bench to complete 4 of 7 passes, including a late-game winning touchdown throw in a 31-27 victory. He was expected to get the start against the Hawkeyes on Jan. 1.
Listen to what the coaches had to say about their signal callers and more in this complete audio file from the teleconference: