No coaching matchup intrigues me more this bowl season than Iowa's veteran defensive coordinator Norm Parker going up against Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson and his dynamic triple-option offense.
Parker has had a tremendous year orchestrating the Iowa defense, but he'll face arguably his toughest test Jan. 5 in the FedEx Orange Bowl.
"The triple option goes back to like 1965," Parker said Friday in a rare appearance before reporters. "There was a time in the late '60s, up to the '80s, that really all you defended was the triple option. [The Georgia Tech coaching staff] has refined it and never gotten away from it. They know what they're doing, they're excellent teachers, their kids play hard and they're sort of the masters of this offense."
The 68-year-old Parker is the master of Iowa's defense, but he has had some personal struggles this year.
Parker, a diabetic, had to have a toe amputated before the season because of an infection. He remained on the sideline, but pushed things too far after Iowa's dramatic win against Michigan State on Oct. 24.
"I went into the locker room, they took off my shoe and it was full of blood," he said.
Parker was hospitalized and coached Iowa's final four games from the press box, where he'll likely be for the Orange Bowl.
Though confined to a wheelchair, Parker is locked in on the task at hand and plans to remain Iowa's defensive coordinator in 2010.
"If I didn't think I could do it, I'd be the first guy to say,' that's it,'" Parker said. “I don't want to do it, if I don't really believe I can do it. That’s not fair to the team and that’s not fair to the other coaches. I don't want to try to do something that I know I can't do.
"When I think I can't do it, this cowboy’s heading the other way."
It'll be a big loss for Iowa when Parker steps aside, but Hawkeyes fans should be pleased that he'll be back next fall.