Unfortunately, that is just simply not the case. The game has changed, and Ferentz's overall package will not lead to Iowa winning B1G titles. But this isn't because Kirk is a bad coach. In fact, I still think he's a great coach. He takes limited talent and develops those players to their maximum capabilities. He has had a great run of developing tight ends like Dallas Clark, Scott Chandler, Tony Moeaki, Brandon Myers, Allen Reisner, and CJ Fiedorowicz. Even better is his run of left tackles which included Robert Gallery, Marshall Yanda, Bryan Bulaga, Riley Reiff, and Brandon Scherff. He used to have a great run on cornerbacks as well (although many switched to safety in the NFL) with Charles Godfrey, Bradley Fletcher, Amari Spievey, Shaun Prater, and Micah Hyde. Almost all of those guys were 3 star recruits (or worse), and Kirk found a way to maximize their abilities. There is no denying that Kirk Ferentz is a very good coach.
The problem is the recruiting. Kirk used to be able to find those diamonds in the rough, but other coaches have gotten far better at recruiting, and the talent level that Iowa has brought in has not been good enough to consistently compete. That is why Iowa has struggled. The talent is simply not there, and Kirk Ferentz will not change to bring in that talent.
All of this made me realize one thing: Kirk Ferentz would have been a great NFL coach.
His problems are much more scheme than talent. He develops offensive linemen incredibly well, so his outside zone running scheme would have worked great in the NFL. Even a poor NFL running back is light years ahead of a guy like Mark Weisman in talent, so they would have the necessary skills to hit the hole at the right time. If he would have lucked into a good quarterback, then he would have a very potent offense at the next level.
On defense, his conservative scheme drives Hawkeye fans crazy, but there are a lot of very successful defenses that are fairly conservative in scheme. The Seattle Seahawks are an excellent example of this, as they do not do anything all that complicated, but they execute their Cover-3 incredibly well. His bend-don't-break defense may not get fans excited, but it has proven to be incredibly effective when he has the right talent on the field.
Plus, Kirk Ferentz has the demeanor to be an NFL head coach. He's not like Jim Harbaugh who wears out his welcome quickly and is perfect to only have players for 3-5 years. Kirk is even-keeled and players know what to expect from him. The only real knock on him is that he may be controlling and overbearing, but there aren't many great NFL coaches that couldn't be described in the same way.
Kirk Ferentz was an incredibly successful college coach, but the changing college game has left him in the dust. New schemes and large gaps in talent level has left the Hawkeyes in consistent mediocrity. But Kirk Ferentz was made to coach in the NFL. It accentuates his positives while limiting his negatives. He's always been great at developing talent, and although his scheme may be a tad antiquated, execution is far more important than a fancy scheme at the NFL level, because the talent gap is so small.
Although the opportunity has passed him by, Kirk Ferentz would have been a great NFL coach.