IOWA CITY — No, 7-5 won’t do.
Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Thursday he was disappointed in the Hawkeyes’ 7-5 season, but not because of where expectations stood before the 2010 season started.
“I’m disappointed in 7-5 because of the fact I’d like our football team to be better than that,” Barta said. “[Coach] Kirk [Ferentz] would as well. I’m disappointed in 7-5 because of the way the season ended. And so, it’s just disappointing on a lot of fronts.”
The Hawkeyes (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) started their Big Ten schedule 3-1, but after a resounding 37-6 victory over Michigan State on Oct. 30, they fizzled, finishing the conference schedule 1-3 with that one being handed to them on a dropped TD pass at Indiana.
Disappointing on a lot of fronts.
“That said,” Barta said, “what’s hard to break down is we did play some very good football throughout the year. I thought we played well at Michigan. I thought we played very well with Michigan State here. I think we played a terrific football game against Ohio State here, Penn State.
“I can go through and say here are all the games we played wonderfully and then there are games where we didn’t play as well. The key is, was it something particular? Can we explain it?”
No real explanation, really. Everyone interested in Iowa football has looked. No eureka play or stat. Injuries? Yes, there were plenty of those, but Ferentz refused to lean on that after the Minnesota game.
Ferentz also is why Barta isn’t freaking out.
“One of the things I admire about Kirk every year, whether we have a great season, a mediocre season or a season none of us are accepting, he sits down and for the next 30 to 60 days and he breaks down every piece of his program. Then, he comes up with a plan, 1) how to attack the bowl and 2) how to attack 2011.
“I’ve watched him do it five years now. I admire how he goes about his business. That’s just one of many things I admire about how he operates as our head football coach.”
Barta was asked about defensive coordinator Norm Parker, 69, who missed most of the season after having his right foot amputated because of diabetic complications. Parker left the team before the Iowa State game on Sept. 10. He reutrned around Michigan State and has been involved on a limited basis.
Ferentz has said he wants Parker involved.
“All I’m going to do is encourage him to stay here, but I won’t do it to the point where he feels like he’s letting anyone down when he walks away,” Ferentz said. “That’s his decision all the way. It’s kind of like a guy who gets a job offer on our staff. I’m never going to tell a guy, don’t leave. That’s their decision to make.
“In the meantime, Norm in any role here is what we’re looking for. I think we’ve all agreed on that. That’s how I feel. He can be here in any role.”
NCAA rules dictate that football teams have nine assistant coaches. Parker would hold one of those spots if he wanted to be around players.
“I’ll gladly use his spot for whatever role he wants to serve,” Ferentz said. “I said this before, I told him I don’t care if he goes out to the practice field. If he just sits in and and watches tape and runs meetings, meets with the players. As long as there’s that interaction, that’s the biggest thing.”
Barta said his first thought is toward Parker’s good health. He also believed Parker’s absence had an affect on the 2010 season.
“I think it’s fair to say that when you have one of your key leaders gone from your football team, potentially that had some affect on the outcome of the season,” Barta said. “Again. we’re going to look at everything related to the season.
“The next step is Norm’s health, that’s the most important thing.”
Barta said whenever he has an athletics department employee with a health problem, he wants to figure out where they are health-wise and then figure out where they go in terms of their job.
“I’m not predicting anything,” Barta said. “My first concern is that Norm get healthy. Then, we’ll have great discussions on how long he wants to work and when he’s going to retire, but we’re not anywhere near having those conversations. Kirk will be the one having them directly and, obviously, he and I will talk about it.”
Parker had his role adjusted going into the 2008 season. Ferentz shifted him into a pure coordinator position withouth the responsibility of coaching the linebackers.
Ferentz wanted to lighten the load for Parker.
“It’s no secret, Norm’s a year older than he was last year, just like I am, I think I heard somewhere out there people worry about the age of our staff,” Ferentz said then. “I always get a kick out of that one. . . . I’ll say this, I place a lot of value in wisdom. Wisdom is a good thing.”
Ferentz also said, “Part of my thinking was, if you will, create an NFL coordinator for him.”
Barta didn’t want to speculate on Parker’s future.
“I want Kirk to go through his process,” Barta said, “and No. 1, I want to make sure Norm is healthy and then go on from there. We have some time to do that.”
As far as a battle over any staff changes, Barta is not about to engage in that. It’s Ferentz’s program.
“I am not a micromanager,” Barta said. “I am a leader, a director, who hires — and in this case Kirk was already hired — or gives people the opportunity and resources to do their job. What I do is listen to those leaders about what their plans are.
“At the end of the day, Kirk is an expert at running a football program. He’s proven that over many years and many places. We’ll have great discussions and we’ll come out of it for a plan for 2011.”