Coaching Changes

Now matter how Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz decides to round out his staff this off-season, it will look a lot different for the first time in 13 years. HI Publisher Rob Howe takes a look at how things have played out the last few months and how things might finish up with the hirings.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - On the surface, it might seem like Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is as predictable with hiring assistants as he is at the end of the half with two timeouts and the ball on his own 20. Dig a little deeper, and you'll find that it's not the case.

Yes, after two months of hand-wringing from Hawkeye fans, Ferentz tabbed in-house candidate and the most obvious successor to Norm Parker as his defensive coordinator last week. But I believed the head coach when he said Phil Parker wasn't the leader in the clubhouse throughout the whole search.

Knowing how deliberate Ferentz can be in the process from when he built a staff after taking over the program in 1999, there likely were numerous scenarios that traveled through his head. In the end, he complemented the Parker move by moving long-time offensive line coach Reese Morgan to the defensive line. Few people saw that coming, including Morgan.

It makes one wonder what Ferentz has been drawing up on the eraser board since offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe announced earlier this month that he was leaving for the Miami Dolphins. You can bet that he didn't just pencil people into each opening and start working on plans for the team cruise.

Ferentz doesn't just look at it as there being openings to fill at offensive coordinator, offensive line and linebacker. He sees a lot of different pieces fitting into three holes and they can come from moving current members of the staff around and/or drawing from outside the program.

In addition to the Morgan switch and moving Darrell Wilson from linebackers to defensive backs last week, Ferentz hired Erik Campbell from Michigan when running backs coach Carl Jackson retired after the 2007 season. He then moved existing wide receivers coach Lester Erb to tutoring RBs and put Campbell at wide receivers/tight end coach.

Things aren't always as they seem in regards to word on the street, either. I'm not sure Ferentz shares his real thoughts with anyone, including his wife, Mary.

It appeared that LeVar Woods was a lock to be the new defensive line coach before last week's switch of Morgan. Several recruits were on record saying that the former Hawkeye was being introduced to them as the defensive line coach. Yet, it didn't happen.

One would think Woods is in line to take over for Wilson at linebacker. The group is more veteran than the front and it would probably be an easier transition for someone coaching on the field for the first time. He also played the position at Iowa and in the NFL.

Again, just because Woods is the obvious choice doesn't mean he will get the gig. Remember, Ferentz can be unpredictable in these situations.

Speculation rose after O'Keefe's exit that graduate assistant David Raih would join the staff as the quarterbacks coach. He played the position at Iowa and assisted O'Keefe in recent years. Current prospect, Jesse Ertz, said Raih was introduced him at a recent junior day as the "fill-in quarterbacks coach".

While Raih very well could be and probably is a candidate, that would require some more shuffling from Ferentz. He'd be creating a new full-time position.

Ferentz said at last week's press conference that he was open to there being a full-time coach for quarterbacks. But his initial response at the gathering was that he prefers having his coordinator coach the position.

With Campbell and Erb being in-house candidates for offensive coordinator, Ferentz could split up that job between them. They could then stay coaching their current positions as well.

As for the offensive line, the early predictions give Brian Ferentz, Kirk's oldest son and former Iowa center, the nod. Brian coaches tight ends from the New England Patriots. He's highly regarded in coaching circles.

The unknowns surrounding the family reunion are the feelings of father and son towards the idea. Neither one of the them is talking about it publicly.

O-Line is Kirk's area of expertise. It's a good bet that he has at least a handful of worthy candidates.

My guess is that Ferentz gets through the second stage of filling holes in his staff this off-season faster than he did the first go-around. He wants to have everything in place for spring practice and the team's annual cruise is approaching.

With that in mind, I'll throw out my predictions (remember, I had Phil Parker, which means nothing now):

Offensive Coordinator - Erik Campbell (also continues coaching WRs)

Offensive Line - Brian Ferentz

Quarterbacks - David Raih

Linebackers - LeVar Woods


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