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COMMENTARY: A complex read

Posted on 08. Feb, 2012 by in Iowa Football

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Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz discusses changes made to his coaching staff during a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012, at the Hayden Fry Football Complex in Iowa City.

By Brendan Stiles

HawkeyeDrive.com

IOWA CITY, Iowa — As Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz took to his seat to a gathering of reporters and cameras staring directly at him, one wouldn’t have thought his discussion of internal coaching changes Wednesday had an impromptu feel to it.

On one hand, it was only announced one day earlier that Phil Parker would be promoted to defensive coordinator after serving as Iowa’s defensive backs coach for all 13 seasons Ferentz has been in command. It was one of three coaching moves that came about, and three more are still going to eventually take place. But on the other hand, this press conference inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex had been planned with one week’s notice.

Of all the things that were brought up Wednesday, a few moments stood out, including two in Ferentz’s opening remarks. He began, not by discussing who was on his staff, but who wasn’t after Ken O’Keefe resigned last week as offensive coordinator to become the Miami Dolphins’ wide receivers coach. Then as he began shifting his tune towards his current staff, Ferentz described Parker as someone he deemed to be “the best fit” as defensive coordinator.

“I just think he’ll do an outstanding job in that role,” Ferentz said. “It’s about as simple as that.”

Ferentz wouldn’t provide a specific timeline into why he wound up promoting from within despite nearly two months passing since the opening was first posted by the UI. He did however stress that others were considered, which seems like a bit of a contradiction since he had earlier called Parker “the best fit.”

Not everything was guileless — Ferentz had his moments where he danced his way around questions like Victor Cruz salsas after scoring touchdowns. For instance, he said LeVar Woods was still an interim coach without mentioning the capacity. Woods was the interim defensive line coach up until the decision was made to move Reese Morgan over to defensive line after he had served the last nine seasons as the offensive line coach.

With linebackers coach being vacant, one would assume this has Woods’ name all over it. He played the position at Iowa, as well as in the NFL. To describe the thought of Woods not landing this job as puzzling would be an understatement.

Yet while Ferentz remained tight-lipped on that, he was straightforward in saying Darrell Wilson, who is now taking Parker’s old spot as defensive backs coach after coaching linebackers, would still coach special teams as he has.

The best illustration of this came when he was asked about the approach for hiring an outside coach. He said he wouldn’t call himself, “a résumé guy,” but that he believes résumés can be telling while conducting a coaching search.

“I’m all for new ideas and what have you,” Ferentz said. “But I think it’s better if they — just like a player has got to buy into it — I think coaches have to buy into it, too. We’ve all got to share some common bond that way.”

He said of the three current vacancies on staff, he thought two of them could be filled within the next two weeks. This is after saying he’d take as long as need be to ultimately finalize his staff, including naming a new offensive coordinator to replace O’Keefe. Spring practices were pushed slightly back, as the team will conduct its first practice on March 24 (a Saturday). This hasn’t normally been the case.

Ferentz called it ideal to have everything in place around spring break, which is about one month from now. But he’s also not afraid, as he just showed with naming a defensive coordinator, to take his time and give the vibe of something being dragged out longer than need be.

“We’re not going to move fast if it costs us the chance of getting the right guy, the best guy,” Ferentz said.

Even in the most unusual instance (usually Ferentz stays mum between signing day and the first day of spring practice), Ferentz stayed consistent in his approach, one that leaves many fans puzzled, but also leaves many fans confident in what he does.

Some see him as stubborn and predictable. Others might view him as more ambiguous. Then there are those that place their trust in him as far as taking the Hawkeyes in what they believe to be the right direction is concerned.

Regardless, two things are clear now — 1. Ferentz is in charge. What he says, goes. It was his call to have Morgan coach the D-line, and that’s what’s happening; 2. The pressure’s on him now. This reshuffling of his staff will not only define the upcoming 2012 season, but future seasons that could be the difference between leaving a lasting legacy and wearing out a welcome.

To Ferentz, this was another day at the office. A significant day, but another day nonetheless. To everyone else on the outside, this was a microcosm of what the last two years have been like — some things feel different, yet the general feeling remains the same.

This press conference was the result of circumstances that over a span of 14 years would seem more unusual than they might actually be. The feel of this press conference, however, was far from unusual.

TRANSCRIPT: Kirk Ferentz, Feb. 8, 2012 press conference (Courtesy: UI Sports Info.)

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