CHICAGO — At some point, yes, Norm Parker is going to retire.
The Iowa defensive coordinator is 68 and has coached football since 1965. He’s also fought diabetes for many years and is down two toes. During the Orange Bowl practices, he made his way to the field in a wheelchair. He started coaching games from the pressbox midway through last season.
Yes, he’s going to retire, but during Big Ten media days Monday, coach Kirk Ferentz said he hasn’t had that conversation with Parker.
“Just about 15 minutes ago someone said he announced his retirement at the end of the year,” Ferentz said of an internet report. “I was a little upset because I was hoping he’d tell me before the media.”
Ferentz said he saw Parker, who does a lot of summer in his home state of Michigan, last week.
“He’s never indicated any thoughts of quitting, but at some point he’s going to, just like I will at some point,” Ferentz said. “He’s never indicated that. He loves doing it and has great passion for it. I’ll be very, very surprised if it’s in his near future, but that’s something out there on the chatboards.”
Parker’s duties have been trimmed in recent years. He hasn’t been on the road recruiting in quite some time. Also, in 2008, he left his duties as linebackers coach to Darrell Wilson, focusing on coordinating Iowa’s defense.
In April, Parker said, “If I didn’t think I could do it, I’d be the first guy to say, that’s it,” Parker said. “I don’t want to do it, if I don’t really believe I can do it. That’s not fair to the team and that’s not fair to the other coaches. I don’t want to try to do something that I know I can’t do.
“When I think I can’t do it, this cowboy’s heading the other way.
“I’ll be the first guy to say, that’s it guys, I’m done. I don’t want to be that guy who hangs on longer than he should hang on, which maybe I already am, who knows?”
Parker’s health is a concern. He pushed it last season and ended up in the hospital before an October game because of leg problems, thus the move to the pressbox.
Ferentz said Parker will continue coaching from the pressbox.
“He’s diabetic, that’s not going to go away, not going to change,” Ferentz said. “He won’t be on his feet a lot. We’re going to try to be guarded with him.
“I told him years ago, I hope he coaches until he’s 80. I’ll drive him. If I have to drive him to the practice field, I’ll drive him, if they take his license away. I think he’s ready to go, he’s fired up.”
Derby a QB . . . for now
Former Iowa City High all-stater A.J. Derby will just have to deal with the constant talk of a position change until a) he is an all-American quarterback or b) changes position.
Officially, Derby, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound true freshman, is still a quarterback, a position he played last spring while enrolling early into the UI.
“He’s a tremendous athlete, I think we certainly saw that in the spring,” Ferentz said. “We were impressed with the ground that he gained as a quarterback. I thought in 15 workouts he did a nice job.”
Iowa wouldn’t ask or need him as a QB this season, with senior Ricky Stanzi and sophomore James Vandenberg the firm Nos. 1 and 2.
Reports have leaked out of Iowa practices that Derby has worked out as a linebacker. Derby told The Gazette last week that he spent the summer throwing the football and working out as a QB.
“He’s got a little time to develop and our plans are to keep him there,” Ferentz said, “unless he would come to us and say he wants to do something else. He could jump on a lot of our special teams right now without even thinking about it and do pretty well. But I don’t foresee that happening right now.”
Ferentz said he’d have a better idea if any incoming freshmen would play this season when fall camp opens next Friday.
Hampton, Binns suspended
Running back Jewel Hampton and defensive end Broderick Binns will serve one-game suspensions when the Hawkeyes open their season Sept. 4 against Eastern Illinois, Ferentz said.
Hampton, a sophomore, was arrested June 5 for public intoxication. He also received a ticket for being in a bar illegally after 10 p.m., which violates Iowa City’s 21-only ordinance that went into effect June 1. Police were summoned to Vito’s because, according to police reports, Hampton was “causing problems.”
Binns, a junior, was arrested for an OWI in University Heights on July 9. His preliminary breath test was .097, above Iowa’s .08 standard for drunken driving.
They’ve also undergone counseling and community service, Ferentz said, and there will be more during the course of camp.
On the academics front, Ferentz said he doesn’t expect to lose any players. (“You never know.”) Summer classes ended last week. All incoming freshmen are listed in the media guide, which is usually a good sign they’re in school.
Reserve linebacker Ross Petersen suffered a torn pectoral muscle in May and will miss contact in camp for a week or two, Ferentz said.
Ferentz listed freshmen Nolan MacMillan and Conor Boffeli in the top seven or eight offensive linemen in competition for playing time. MacMillan is a 6-6, 288-pound candidate at tackle. Boffeli, 6-4, 285, is listed as No. 3 center.