After years of longevity on his staff, Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz has shuffled the cards significantly the past two seasons.
Six new assistant coaches are on board. The three mainstays who have worked a combined 41 seasons for Ferentz – Phil Parker, Reese Morgan and Eric Johnson – have different titles than they did two years ago.
Parker moved from defensive backs to defensive coordinator last season. He will also coach Iowa’s secondary in 2013. Morgan moved from offensive line to defensive line last season. And Johnson moved from tight ends coach to assistant defensive line coach last season while retaining his duties as recruiting coordinator.
To one neutral set of eyes, the turnover has been a good thing.
“Iowa has kind of a methodical approach,” said Big Ten Network analyst Gerry DiNardo, a former head coach at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana. “They do the same things year in and year out. And there’s a lot of good about that, because everyone knows what’s expected. But there’s a chance of getting stale, too.”
DiNardo attended a Hawkeye practice earlier this month, and stale wasn’t an issue.
“I just felt a lot of energy at practice,” DiNardo said.
The energy is needed as Iowa’s new staff faces the challenge of bouncing back from a 4-8 season. It was the Hawkeyes’ first losing campaign since a 6-7 mark in 2006 and their worst since going 3-9 in 2000. Iowa didn’t play in a bowl game for the first time since 2007, and takes a six-game losing streak into the Aug. 31 season opener against Northern Illinois at Kinnick Stadium.
DiNardo thinks second-year offensive coordinator Greg Davis has benefitted from the addition of wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy, who was at Colorado last season. Davis and Kennedy worked together at Texas. And he thinks Parker will be well-complemented by Jim Reid, who was associate head coach and defensive coordinator at Virginia last season.
“I’ve known Jim Reid for 100 years,” DiNardo said. “He’s a veteran guy who has coached all over the country. He’s an old coach with a lot of energy. And I think Phil has gotten a boost from Jim being there, just like Greg has gotten a boost from Bobby being there. It’s kind of like the perfect storm.”
Also new to the staff this year is Chris White, who coaches running backs and special teams. Joining the staff last season were offensive line coach Brian Ferentz, linebackers coach LeVar Woods and Davis.
DiNardo thinks the coaches seem to be working better together than the Ferentz staff has in recent years.
“Kirk and I talked about this. And I know exactly what he means when he says you sit in the staff room now and you say, ‘How did you guys do it at so and so?’ ” DiNardo said. “It energizes you. It’s new ideas. It’s fun. It’s exciting. Football coaches, for the most part, are smart guys. They love dialogue, and they love discussion.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football