TAMA - For many Iowa fans, the 2010 football season won't be hard to recall for years to come because of its losses, arrests of high-profile players and 13 Hawkeyes sent to the hospital.
For Kirk Ferentz, it was just another year.
An 8-5 record would be tough to take for most Hawkeyes fans any year given the success Iowa's achieved in recent years, but with the hype that surrounded the team entering the season, 8-5 represents a resounding thud.
Especially when you mix in the arrest and dismissals of all-time leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and leading rusher Adam Robinson.
And instead of going quietly into the winter months, the 2010 season came back with a postscript in the form of 13 players hospitalized with rhabdomyolsis in January.
The health scare was also accompanied by heavy criticism directed toward Ferentz, with some pundits calling for his firing from their national soap boxes.
Despite all that, Ferentz declined to give 2010 any credit as one of the more difficult in his 12 at the helm in Iowa City.
"Every year has its own challenges," said Ferentz on Wednesday before addressing the Tama County I-Club at its spring banquet. "The games didn't all turn out the way you want, we had a couple guys make decisions we wish they hadn't.
"That's part of college athletics."
The Hawkeyes carried a top-10 ranking, an Orange Bowl crown and a heap of expectations into last season, but suffered their first lost just three weeks into the season at Arizona.
A month later, they lost by one to eventual Rose Bowl participant Wisconsin.
And then November hit.
Iowa started the month by eeking out a win against Indiana, getting help from a Hoosier dropping the would-be game-winning touchdown in the end zone.
What followed was three straight losses, including the regular-season finale to downtrodden neighbor and rival Minnesota.
The Gophers entered the game 2-9 and without their head coach, Tim Brewster, who had been fired earlier in the season.
Ferentz told the packed house at the Tama-Toledo Country Club that the loss represented the low point of the 2010 campaign.
"We certainly weren't happy with the way November went," said Ferentz, whose team responded with an Insight Bowl victory over No. 12 Missouri in December.
"The bottom line is we lost three games by 10 points. For whatever reason, we weren't good enough to come up on top in those three games."
Edging out victories is especially important to a team accustomed to playing in tightly contested tilts.
Iowa has not lost a game by more than a touchdown since the 2007 season. In 2009, they won five games by less than a touchdown; 2010 saw just one of those victories.
"The year before we did a better job pulling games out in the fourth quarter, and last year we didn't. It's really about as simple as that," said Ferentz. "So the key for us is winning close games. If we do that, the season turns out really well and everybody's smiling, and, when we don't, we end up not playing in January."
Even with the strife of 2010, there doesn't seem to be much deflation in the fervor of the Hawkeye faithful in the run-up to the Sept. 3 season opener against Tennessee Tech.
In fact, just the opposite as Iowa reported exceedingly strong ticket sales this spring. Two games have already sold out.
"The reception has been great on the road. Everybody seems enthused," said Ferentz. "Based on the people I talk to and the people I've been exposed to during the I-Club circuit, everybody's been great. They've been positive, very optimistic."
With the tickets flying of the shelves and the positive vibes sent Ferentz's way as he's made the I-Club rounds, it's clear fans are ready to put 2010 in the rear-view.
They're not alone.
"We're focused on moving forward," said Ferentz.