IOWA CITY — Thirteen years fills up a handful of boxes. Ken O’Keefe had them stacked outside of his office Monday morning.
After 13 years as Kirk Ferentz’s offensive coordinator, O’Keefe, 58, is off to Miami and a position as wide receivers coach on Joe Philbin’s new staff. It’s an entirely new road, but O’Keefe seemed eager to get it started.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” O’Keefe said. “I’ve known Joe since he was 17-years-old. It’s hard to walk away from this because of [Iowa head coach] Kirk [Ferentz] and the kids, obviously, and the community of Iowa City, which has been so good to us, as well. It is a little unique because of our relationship, and the timing just happens to be right.”
Philbin, who served as O-line coach under Ferentz and O’Keefe from 1999-2003, moved from Green Bay’s offensive coordinator to Miami’s head coach on Jan. 21. O’Keefe wasn’t clear on the timeline, but it sounded as though the deal was finalized after the national signing period began for recruits on Feb. 1.
“There are a lot of other things that took place, but recently we were able to have a talk, after the signing day,” O’Keefe said. “It’s just a unique opportunity right now. I’m so grateful for the time Kirk Ferentz gave us here at Iowa. It’s an unbelievable place.”
This was the Monday after the Super Bowl. Ferentz hopped on a plane after Iowa’s junior day on Sunday and attended the Super Bowl to watch his son, former Iowa O-lineman and New England tight ends coach Brian.
Monday was officially a day off in the Iowa football complex. Few coaches were around. Defensive backs coach Phil Parker was in and out. Running backs coach Lester Erb watched film. O-line coach Reese Morgan hung around.
You wouldn’t have guessed Iowa is looking for offensive and defensive coordinators.
Ferentz set a Wednesday news conference to discuss the state of the program. He said he felt comfortable on where the D-coordinator position was headed, as in the hire was imminent. The timing matches with New York Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann, who spent nine seasons as Michigan’s D-coordinator, but the only tell there is the timing.
During Sunday’s junior day, prospects were told LeVar Woods is the new defensive line coach and David Raih would be quarterbacks coach, according to HawkeyeReport.com.
Nothing is official, however, but could be as early as Wednesday.
Monday, it was a skeleton crew in the Iowa football offices. Former Hawkeyes NFLers, including kicker Nate Kaeding and O-lineman Matt Kroul, worked out in Iowa’s weightroom. Iowa seniors preparing for the NFL were in and out.
O’Keefe was headed out, for one last time. It’s a whirlwind when you leave. O’Keefe fielded calls and messages from several former Iowa quarterbacks, including Brad Banks, Kyle McCann and Drew Tate.
“They’re all great guys and they gave a big part of their lives here to us and the Hawks,” O’Keefe said. “We’re all a small part of one big family. It’s humbling in a lot of ways, but it’s great.”