IOWA has always been known for its offensive linemen and this trend will continue because there are not two better coaches in the country that can help offensive lineman get to the next level than Kirk Ferentz and Joe Philbin.
Kirk Ferentz came to Iowa in 1981 with the reputation of being an outstanding offensive line coach and throughout the years he has only bettered his reputation. When Kirk Ferentz left the Baltimore Ravens in 1999 to become the Head Football Coach at the University of Iowa, he was considered one of the best if not the best offensive line coach in the NFL and one of the best teachers in the NFL.
While Coach Ferentz was at Iowa, between 1981 and 1989, the offensive lines he coached anchored four of Iowa's highest scoring offenses. Five of Iowa's top offensive teams, in terms of yards gained per game, were operating behind Ferentz coached offensive lines. And, seven of Iowa's top 10 passing teams of all time occurred during Coach Ferentz's first stint. Coach Ferentz's reputation as a great teacher followed him to the NFL where he was known to take lower round draft picks and free agents and make them into highly paid NFL superstars. Some of these players include: Wally Williams who entered the NFL as a free agent and is now making $24 million; Orlando Brown who entered the NFL as a free agent and is now making $27 million; and Jeff Blackshear who was drafted in the 7th round and is now making $16 million.
Coach Ferentz also helped to send many players to the NFL. During the 80's, 13 offensive linemen coached by Ferentz went on to the NFL. They were John Alt, Rob Baxley, Bill Anderson, Herb Wester, Dave Croston, Scott Davis, Mike Devlin, Chris Gambol, Mike Haight, Ron Hallstrom, Joel Hilgenberg, Bob Kratch, and Brett Miller. Alt, Haight, and Hallstrom were first round picks in the NFL draft.
Statistics are one way to judge a coach, but you also have to talk to people who have played and worked with Coach Ferentz to really find out his coaching ability.
John Alt, former Iowa Hawkeye and a former All-Pro lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs:
"I owe all of my success at the University of Iowa and in the NFL to Kirk and Coach Fry. Kirk was an excellent technician, teacher and motivator."
Dave Croston, former Iowa Hawkeye and 1986 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year:
"To be honest, I owe most of my playing success in college and in the NFL to Coach Ferentz. There's no question he's the best offensive line coach I ever had, and that includes the pros. There's a certain instinct that successful offensive line coaches have. He had that when I played at Iowa, he's continued that in the NFL, and he'll carry that over to the entire Iowa program."
Jonathan Ogden, Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens, and the NFL's highest paid lineman:
"He's a great technician, and he understands the game of football. He's a players coach and the kids are going to relate to him and they're going to respect him. Kirk comes across as a guy who is easy to get along with, but at the same time he's serious. He definitely has the personality kids are going to want to be associated with. He helped me out a lot. He's a great coach for the type of player I am."
When Coach Ferentz was looking for an offensive line coach, he wasted no time in hiring Joe Philbin. Joe Philbin came to Iowa from Harvard where he was the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in 1997 and 1998. In his first season, Harvard set 15 offensive records. Five member's of the 1997 Harvard offense were named All-Ivy League. One of those lineman, Matt Birk, is expected to start this season for the Vikings. He was a member of the Viking team that advanced to the NFC championship game. Before coming to Harvard, Coach Philbin served as the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Northeastern University in 1995 and 1996. In 1996, Northeastern enjoyed its first winning season in a decade and lineman Jerome Daniels was a 4th round selection by Miami in the NFL draft and now plays for the Arizona Cardinals.
Many people say that your team will only go as far as your offensive line will take you. If that is the case, IOWA is going a long way!