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Offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe is leaving Hawkeyes

[ 23 ] February 3, 2012 |

There’s a reason Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz was hesitant when asked Wednesday if he was looking to replace just two assistants.

He hedged his answer, saying, “We have two openings right now,” because as of Friday, it’s three vacancies with offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe’s resignation — the Hawkeyes’ biggest staff turnover since Hayden Fry retired as the head coach after the 1998 season.

“Ken O’Keefe has decided to leave our Iowa staff for another coaching opportunity,” Ferentz said in a statement. “Ken’s work contributed greatly to our program’s success during the past 13 years, and more impressively to the growth and development of the young men in our program.

“We wish Ken and Joanne the most success in this new chapter of his career.”

O’Keefe, hired by Ferentz in 1999, could not be reached for comment, but according to some published reports he will join the staff of new Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin.

If true, they’ll be together again for the first time since Philbin served as Ferentz’s offensive line coach between 1999 and 2002.

Another original member of Ferentz’s staff, defensive coordinator Norm Parker, announced his retirement before the Insight Bowl.

Additionally, defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski left after the final game of the regular season to join Bo Pelini’s Nebraska staff.

Ferentz said Wednesday that he hopes to name at least some replacements soon.

“I’m hoping so,” he said.

He has a scheduled press conference next Wednesday.

“I think we’ll be able to make an announcement then,” he said.

O’Keefe, 58, was a lightning rod for criticism, coordinating an offense that only four times finished in the Big Ten Conference’s top half in total yards. The offense was predictable, critics moaned. They said plays lacked imagination.

O’Keefe coached Iowa receivers in 1999. He has coached the quarterbacks, including Heisman Trophy runner-up Brad Banks, the past 12 seasons.

Also under O’Keefe, James Vandenberg passed for over 3,000 yards and had 25 touchdown passes in his first year as a starter last season.

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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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