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Harty: Ferentz, Davis best coaches for the job

[ 8 ] March 6, 2012 |

We now know that Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz failed to comply with the equal employment opportunity guidelines set by the university when he hired Greg Davis to be his interim offensive coordinator.

Ferentz also had to take special steps to hire his son, Brian Ferentz, to be his offensive line coach because the university has a policy that limits the hiring of immediate family by university employees.

Despite all that, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better candidate for either job.

It’s not often that somebody with nearly four decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level and a national title under belt calls you up looking for a job, as is the case with the 60-year old Davis.

It’s also rare that an up-and-coming NFL assistant coach would resign from his job with arguably the best current NFL franchise and give up a chance to work with two of the best tight ends in the league in order to come to Iowa.

That’s what Ferentz has with the addition of Davis and Brian Ferentz.

“It isn’t the process that’s important,” said Iowa Director of Athletics Gary Barta. “It’s important to follow that and stay within the protocol.

“But what’s important is you go out and hire the best coaches available and that’s what Kirk did.”

Brian Ferentz was on a fast-track to success in the NFL, but he gave it up to work for his father and for a college that touched his heart and soul and in a town that did the same thing.

Brian graduated from City High and then moved across town to Iowa, where he played on the offensive line for his father from 2003-05. Brian nearly lost his leg in college because of staph infection, but he never lost the thrill of being a Hawkeye, even after he graduated and moved away.

The only thing better than having a young, energetic and talented assistant coach is having a young, energetic and talented assistant coach who really wants to be here.

And that describes Brian Ferentz.

I remember thinking back when Brian played at Iowa that he was a coach in waiting with how he so easily dealt with the media and with how he expressed himself with so much enthusiasm and insight.

His father without question helped Brian get in with the Patriots, but it was up to Brian to make an impression and move up the ladder.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick doesn’t seem like the type to hire coaches based on warm-and-fuzzy friendships or as a favor to somebody. He hires coaches that will help him win football games.

The same goes for the older Ferentz. He wouldn’t have hired Brian if he thought it would make his program more vulnerable.

This isn’t a case of daddy giving his son something he doesn’t deserve, but rather a case of a father trusting and respecting his son and believing that adding him to the staff will make the team better.

There should be rules to prevent nepotism, but they shouldn’t be rigid to the point where there is no flexibility.

Davis will be the interim offensive coordinator for one year and he’ll have to interview for the job all over again in order to meet the equal employment opportunity guidelines.

But as far as finding the best available candidate, it’s hard to argue against Davis, Brian Ferentz or former Hawkeye LeVar Woods, who was hired recently to coach the linebackers, which is the same position he played at Iowa and in the NFL.

Kirk Ferentz is fortunate that somebody with Davis’ experience was available because time wasn’t on Ferentz’s side when Ken O’Keefe resigned as the Iowa offensive coordinator on Feb. 4 to become the Miami Dolphins receivers coach. Ferentz had to act swiftly with spring football approaching.

He zeroed in on Davis, who was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Texas from 1998-2010, and before long they were shaking hands and devising a playbook. Davis was eager to get back into coaching after he was let go by Texas coach Mack Brown as part of the fallout for finishing 5-7 in 2010.

Kirk Ferentz is paid big bucks because of what he’s already accomplished at Iowa and partly because university officials trust that he will make the right decisions under these kinds of circumstances.

In many ways, a head coach is only as good as his assistants.

One of the main reasons Hayden Fry succeeded in rebuilding the Iowa program is because he surrounded himself with a talented supporting cast of assistant coaches that included Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez and Kirk Ferentz.

Ferentz has done the same thing as the Iowa head coach. And with his three most recent hires, coupled with Phil Parker being promoted to defensive coordinator, it looks like nothing has changed.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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