Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Kirk Ferentz talks Iowa staff changes
By Brian Bennett
Iowa fans grew antsy while waiting nearly two months for head coach Kirk Ferentz to name successor to Norm Parker at defensive coordinator. But Ferentz said Wednesday that he wanted to take his time with the decision, which resulted in defensive backs coach Phil Parker (no relation) being promoted on Tuesday.
"I just didn't see any advantage to moving quickly," Ferentz said at a news conference. "Unless you have to, there's no real advantage to that. So I just wanted to kind of sift through it, and I'm really glad that I did because my mind was in a couple different places. ... You want to take your time and feel really good."
Ferentz said he eventually settled on Parker -- who has spent the past 13 years coaching the Hawkeyes secondary -- as the best fit for the program. He said Parker has had opportunities to leave to go to other BCS teams, including a top-10 program that offered him a coordinator spot.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, after some deliberation, promoted longtime assistant Phil Parker, seen here in 2010, to defensive coordinator.
Ferentz did not announce a new offensive coordinator or any specific plans to fill the role vacated when longtime playcaller Ken O'Keefe left for the Miami Dolphins last week. He said he knew about O'Keefe possibly leaving as soon as Joe Philbin -- a friend of O'Keefe's -- got the Dolphins job. Expect Ferentz to take his time with this hire, too, even though current assistant Erik Campbell looks like a strong candidate to become another in-house promotion.
In some ways, it's understandable why Ferentz isn't making these decisions quickly. After all, O'Keefe and Norm Parker were the only coordinators he'd had at Iowa until this point.
"We probably cheated time here a little bit," he said. "I don't think anybody envisioned the head coach or two coordinators making it for 13 years. ... Right now, I'd settle for 10 out of the next two guys. That would be great if we could get 10 I'll be, what, 66. I'll have to figure that out then. Somebody will feel sorry for me and come join us at that point."
Some other notes from Ferentz's press conference:
He explained his surprising decision to move offensive-line coach Reese Morgan to the defensive line by saying Morgan is an excellent teacher. The Hawkeyes will be very young on the D-line next season, and Ferentz felt Morgan was the right guy to get that group up to speed. He pointed to Morgan's excellent work of developing offensive linemen, including projected 2012 NFL first-rounder Riley Reiff, who came to school as a defensive end prospect.
With the offensive line job open, speculation is rampant that Ferentz will hire his son Brian, currently a New England Patriots assistant, to coach that position. The elder Ferentz addressed that by saying he's "open to anything" but added that his son has a pretty good job right now.
LeVar Woods was elevated from administrative assistant to a temporary coach during recruiting, and most expect him to be named the full-time linebackers coach. "He's still the interim coach as far as I know, at least," Ferentz said. "He's certainly interested in working here, and we'll let him go through the process. Hopefully he'll do well in the weeks ahead here and we'll find a seat for him."
Ferentz said he didn't think the athletic department's budget would be an issue in hiring new assistants. But he also added, "I don't think we're going to try to sign a superstar coach or anything like that."
A lot of Iowa fans wanted some change in the staff and many criticized O'Keefe's conservative game plans. Ferentz didn't rule out a major change with the new offensive coordinator, but odds are more likely that Iowa's style of play will look mostly the same. Ferentz said his next coordinator has to "believe in blocking" first and foremost. "As a head coach what I'm interested in is we've got to block. We've got to make the make-able plays and make sure we're doing a good job in turnover ratio. I think that's really critical if you're going to try to get somewhere."
Iowa will move the start of its spring practice back a couple of days, and Ferentz would like to have the staff complete before the Hawkeyes get going in late March. But, again, moving fast is not his top priority. "Right now I think we've just got to make sure it's the right guy, certainly before we leave on spring break. ... Spring ball to me is about teaching the basics. It's about executing basic plays and just getting things taught. We have a very young team right now so it's not like we can be on page 7 anyway, so we really have to start at the beginning. So I think that gives us a little wiggle room there, too."