You could let a sportswriter drone on and on about Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who is retiring after the Insight Bowl, or you could let his peers, players and Parker himself do the talking. I’d go with the players, peers and Parker if I were you.
These quotes are from the Gazette files, and weren’t hard to locate:
“Gray hair.” — Parker, when I asked him in January 1999 what he brought to Iowa. Then he added “I would hope a little bit of knowledge about the game and knowledge how to teach it. If I can do as well as (previous Hawkeye defensive coordinators) Bill Brashier and Bobby Elliott and we play as well as their guys played, we’ll be all right.”
“We all look up to him. Whatever he says goes.” — former Iowa defensive tackle Jonathan Babineux
“Norm has a great knack for watching regular games and seeing the problems and the issues that we could have. Give him a half of a day, he’ll find the issues that we’re going to have to make sure we touch on.” — Iowa defensive backs coach Phil Parker
“He’s great at giving us perspective for real life, not just football, but what’s out there in the world.” — former Iowa linebacker Fred Barr
“With their running game, I just hope they can’t come out and just maul us,” he said. “That’s a concern, that they just come out with their size and strength and speed and just maul us. I worry about that.” — Parker before the 2006 Alamo Bowl. Texas edged Iowa, 26-24, but the Longhorns had just 70 rushing yards.
“There’s not a better guy in the country that I could’ve been with. A lot of guys would’ve dumped you into the street, put you under the bus and run you over.” — Parker on Ferentz
“A lot of the things he says, you can’t really write some of those things on there.” former Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway on T-shirts with the top 10 Norm-isms that Hawkeye players created.
“There’s no question that he’s a mentoring-type. He’s taught me a lot of what I know about football, being a coach and a good person off the field, too. He’s almost like a father figure for you as a young person going through the business. “He’s taught me a lot of what I know about football.” — Hawkeyes tight ends coach Eric Johnson
“He loves to get out. That’s one of the things that he loves to do, get out and talk to fans.” — Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta
“I think I like the noise. I like the dirt. And I like the people that go to it because they’re sort of like me. I’m not what you’d call a sophisticate. I’d be a good hillbilly.” — Parker on his love of sprint car racing
“He never blinked, he never flinched. Never. … The players saw how tired he was, how hurt. They saw. … The guy’s got guts, and he’s got everything it takes to get us where we need to go.” — Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe in 2004, four months after Parker had a toe amputated and had vascular surgery to improve circulation in his left leg and foot
“I hope he doesn’t (retire). He’s so good for college football.” — Greenway, in 2005
“I added it up, and the two-a-day practices … this is my 57th year (in football). A year of your life has been gone. It’s like going into a coma for two weeks. After a while, you don’t even know what day it is. Kirk loves it. He loves it. I sort of like the games a little bit more. Maybe that goes with age.” — Parker at the team’s 2010 Media Day
“He’s one of my favorite people. First of all, he’s a coach’s coach, or I should say, he’s a player’s coach. He’s about performance, so I think I relate to that. And he’s old-school, and I think I relate to that. I have tremendous respect for him for a lot of reasons. So it’s kind of a natural. It’s not something you have to work very hard at, that’s for sure. He’s top-notch all the way.” — Iowa wrestling coach Tom Brands
“We’re still trying to pick Norm’s brain. We’re trying to figure out how Norm sees the game. We’re also trying to think like him. He’s that calming voice, the guy who always has the answer. We might have suggestions, but Norm has all the answers. He’s seen a lot of things. … “He’ll put you at ease. It gives you a confidence, not only in his ability, but also gives you confidence in your ability.” — Hawkeyes defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski
“Norm lied,” former Iowa defensive end Matt Roth, recounting with a grin how Parker told him he would get to blitz a lot at Iowa when Parker was recruiting Roth, then a linebacker.
“Norm’s a guy who’s been through a lot in football and his personal life. It’s really hard to rock his world. When we brought Norm to Iowa, we thought that was important, what he would bring our team.” — Ferentz in late 2002.
“One person asked me what’s the most exciting thing. Before, it was winning a game, that was the biggest thing. I think the thing that makes you the happiest now is to see the look on the faces of the players after they’ve done something good. … In other words, I don’t know if winning that Orange Bowl was the charge as much as it was seeing the look on the faces of the players when they knew they had done something, you know, see their satisfaction. It’s like the Penn State game. … Maybe that means you’re getting old. Maybe that means you’re seeing the game the way you should see it.” — Parker