In other news, Iowa received a commitment from cornerback Kevin Buford on Sunday. The 5-foot-10, 165-pounder said yes to the Hawkeyes on his visit. He was previously committed to Toledo.
According to HawkeyeReport.com, Buford’s main recruiter was Iowa secondary coach Phil Parker. This is standard operation. Parker coaches defensive backs and has recruited Michigan in the past. But, in light of the day’s big headline, perhaps therein lies a clue to who Iowa’s next defensive coordinator will be.
Parker landed a recruit the same day Norm Parker announced his retirement as Iowa’s defensive coordinator. Kirk Ferentz interviewed a handful of candidates for his defensive coordinator position in 1998. Parker leaves after serving in the position for all of Ferentz’s 13 seasons at Iowa.
Under Parker’s guidance, Iowa ranked among the top 10 nationally in rushing defense five times and has been in the top 10 in scoring defense three of the past four seasons. In 2010, Iowa was fifth nationally in total defense (332.1), sixth in rushing defense (101.5) and seventh in scoring defense (17.0).
But here are some factors that might play into Ferentz’s next move:
– This will be just the seventh change on Ferentz’s staff in 13 seasons. This will be first staff change since Carl Jackson retired as running backs coach in 2008 (WR coach Erik Campbell was hired and then-WR coach Lester Erb shifted to running backs).
– Iowa’s next defensive coordinator will be just its fourth in 34 seasons. When Illinois names its next DC, it’ll be three since 2008.
Ferentz is very much a believer in continuity. Today’s recruit, Ferentz’s philosophy and Phil Parker’s history with Norm Parker (they’re not related) leads you to believe that Phil Parker might be the leader in the clubhouse.
Not only has Phil coached Iowa’s secondary for all 13 seasons with Norm as coordinator, the two first crossed paths at Michigan State in 1983. Phil Parker was a first-team all-Big Ten safety in 1983, ’84 and ’85. Norm Parker was the Spartans’ outside linebackers coach from 1983-89 and added defensive coordinator duties from 1990-94. Both Parkers were on staff (Phil as a graduate assistant) when the Spartans won the Big Ten title and beat USC in the Rose Bowl.
After MSU, Phil Parker spent 11 seasons as defensive backs coach at Toledo.
After Phil Parker, linebackers coach Darrell Wilson has been on staff since 2002. Defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski joined the Iowa staff officially in 2007 when Ron Aiken left to become D-line coach for the Arizona Cardinals.
Phil Parker, Wilson and Kaczenski collaborated on the defense in Norm Parker’s absence during the 2010 season, when Norm Parker had part of his right leg amputated because of complications due to diabetes.
Wilson is an all-start recruiter, especially in the Washington D.C. area. He has brought in seven recruits in the 2011 class. Kaczenski recruits Florida for the Hawkeyes and has brought in two (WR Greg Mabin and DL Daumantas Venckus). Phil Parker has cut recruiting paths in Michigan and Ohio. Nine Hawkeyes from the state of Ohio will play in the Insight Bowl.
Will recruiting be a factor in Ferentz’s decision? He said in late November that he didn’t mind having Norm Parker off the road and extended the same deal to offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe, who remains a recruiter.
Is the recruiting calendar a consideration? Iowa has 14 commitments with 20 or thereabouts as the target. Would a late switch affect defensive recruits considering Iowa? Would there be time to build a relationship with the coordinator? Do recruits care about that?
Would Aiken be in consideration? He won the 2002 American Football Coaches Association Division I Assistant Coach of the Year award with the Hawkeyes (same award Norm Parker won this year). Aiken joined Iowa’s staff in 1999 and helped lead the Hawkeyes to six straight bowl appearances (2001-06).
Ferentz is quoted in Illinois State head coach Brock Spack’s online bio. Spack served as Purdue’s defensive coordinator for 12 seasons before departing for Illinois State in ’09. The Redbirds finished 7-4 this fall. Spack, 49, has done the Big Ten defensive coordinator thing and is recruiting for ISU right now.
Former Arizona head coach and Hawkeye Mike Stoops? Ferentz didn’t address a Stoops rumor directly when asked in November, but a match here seems unlikely, especially given the personalities involved. Stoops has been linked to Ohio State and has said he’d be interested in Nebraska’s defensive coordinator position, but remains a free agent.
Would cost be a factor?
Michigan spent $750,000 on defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, luring him away from the Baltimore Ravens. At Ohio State, Luke Fickell, the Buckeyes’ head coach this season, will retain a position under new coach Urban Meyer. His job hasn’t been determined, but he will make $775,000.
O’Keefe is Iowa’s highest-paid assistant, making $313,200 in 2011-12. Norm Parker made $243,000 last season.