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Hawkeyes’ Parker to retire after bowl game

[ 10 ] December 11, 2011 |

Photo taken in October 2010: Iowa fans hold up signs in support of Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker, during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010, at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa.(Press-Citizen file photo/ Matthew Holst)

Iowa football players heard the news Sunday after working out in preparation for the Dec. 30 Insight Bowl against Oklahoma.

Defensive coordinator Norm Parker is retiring.

Parker, 70, an original member of coach Kirk Ferentz’s staff, will coach in the bowl game — and then no more, he said Sunday.

“I would like to personally thank Gary Barta, Kirk Ferentz, the coaches and players at Iowa, along with the fantastic fans,” Parker said in a press release. “It has been a great time, one that myself and my entire family greatly appreciate.

“… My wife Linda, and all the members of our family, were very pleased to be members of the Hawkeye family. We truly enjoyed our time here. After 48 years of doing something I love, it is time to enjoy some time with the grandkids.”

The colorful Parker has battled diabetes, which has resulted in the loss of a leg. He coached from press boxes and maneuvered the practice field in a golf cart.

Shortly after the amputation, Parker had to be driven wherever he went.

“Before last spring, that was a real process for him,” Ferentz said two weeks ago. “I think it was a huge thing for him when he was able to drive again, which I think was May, so he can pretty much come and go as he pleases now.

“It’s really been a turnaround year for him.”

Never did Ferentz consider asking Parker, who is completing his 13th season at Iowa, to retire.

“I’ve been around coaches who as they get older have a tough time communicating,” Ferentz said. “I never thought it was age-related; I thought it was people-related.

“That has always been one of his strengths and it’s one of the things he does as a defensive coordinator or just in talking to people. He has a way — usually, in a very concise way — of getting to what is important and saying it in a way that can be entertaining.

“But, there’s usually a pretty good message. If you listen closely, there’s usually a pretty good story.”

Defensive tackle Mike Daniels agreed.

“He’ll give you a lesson on life, if you listen to him closely,” Daniels said on media day. “What he’s overcome — football’s nothing compared to what he’s fought through.”

Parker last week was voted assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association. He will be honored next month in San Antonio.

He also coached at Vanderbilt, Michigan State, East Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Wake Forest and Eastern Michigan.

When asked last summer about his eventual retirement day, Parker said:

“I hope when the day comes that I can’t do it anymore, I have enough brains to say that’s it.”

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Randy Peterson: Randy Peterson covers college football, college basketball and the Iowa Cubs for the Des Moines Register. Randy can be reached at randypeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter via @RandyPete View author profile.

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