IOWA CITY — Greg Davis was out of work for the 2011 college football season.
He resigned under fire after the 2010 season at Texas, a 5-7 year that stung the masses of Longhorns fans. He “redshirted” — in his words — and visited different colleges and high schools. When he wasn’t on the road, he went to his mancave and watched and taped every game he could.
Clearly, Davis, 60, wasn’t content to be on the sidelines.
He knew Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin from coaching clinics and applied for wide receivers coach on Philbin’s new staff. Of course, you know that Philbin was an offensive line coach at Iowa and has had a lifelong relationship with former Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe.
Philbin called Davis and told him he hired O’Keefe. Davis asked for a favor.
“How about calling Kirk for me?” Davis said Monday. Kirk is Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz. At the same time, Davis fired off a text to Ferentz asking for a chance to visit.
Skip ahead to Monday’s introductory press conference for Davis as Iowa’s new offensive coordinator.
The first statement worth mentioning is one that has kind of been Iowa’s motto, spoken at times but mostly forgotten over Ferentz’s 13-plus seasons as Iowa’s head coach.
“What we will do here will be driven by what we have here,” Davis said, pointing out his first season at Texas when the Longhorns rode Heisman Trophy running back Ricky Williams.
From Ricky Williams to Vince Young to Colt McCoy, Davis’ offenses have been varied. He’s not married to one scheme or a certain balance. He does, however, want to win and, really, that’s the whole point.
“Bread and butter, he will adapt the scheme to the talent, which I think is a credit,” said Chip Brown, who covered Davis as a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and, currently, Orangeblood.com, the Texas Rivals.com site. “He’s not married to any one system. If he’s got a horse [running back], he’ll run power and isolation. If he’s got an accurate quarterback, they’ll throw it a bunch and they may set up the run with the pass.”
Before Young led the Longhorns to the 2006 national championship as a dual-threat quarterback, Davis didn’t know a whole lot about the “zone read” play. Davis was smart enough to know he had Young and so he was smart enough to get it in the playbook.
“When Vince Young came along, I had never been part of a zone read,” Davis said. “Didn’t know anything about it. But we knew once he became our quarterback, we needed to do some things to take advantage of his feet.”
From Young, Texas went to McCoy and the Longhorns adjusted to his strength, which was accuracy.
“Colt took over after that, one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the history of the game of college football,” Davis said. “We kind of put a bunch of eggs in his basket.”
One of the tenets of Ferentz’s offensive philosophy at Iowa has been balance. That’s been twisted to mean “whatever it takes to win” throughout the years. Davis is totally on board with that.
“Our definition of balance is being able to win the game either way [run or pass],” Davis said. “It’s not that you run 35 and you throw 35; it’s that you can win the game. Whatever that day dictates, you’ll be able to win the game.”
How Iowa’s offense will look is taking shape now. Offensive coordinator is a “leadership position,” as Ferentz termed it. Davis has been meeting with Iowa’s offensive staff since he was officially hired last week.
“What we are going to do here is not the Texas offense, but the Iowa offense,” Davis said. “So, what we have been doing is meeting from dusk to dark trying to decide what that’s going to be. This spring, you’ll see a foundation laid.”
You hear some Ferentz philosophy in this. But make no mistake, this is a departure. After 13 seasons, Iowa has a new leader on offense. Sure, Ferentz has a huge say, the yes or no vote, in what happens, but Greg Davis isn’t Ken O’Keefe.
“Based on where we are going with the playbook, there will be a lot of change,” Davis said. “There will be a lot of different things that you will see.
“At the same time, I don’t want to imply, I don’t want the fans to come out and think we are going to be four or five wides [wide receivers]. That’s not going to happen. So, we are just trying to take the best of both worlds, put it together and come up with something that is ours.”