IOWA CITY — Starts haven’t come easily for Greg Castillo during his career. He was the replacement at one of the cornerback spots for the Minnesota game and was tabbed early for last week’s start at Michigan State.
He plays cornerback, where your failures are noticeable and can sometimes lead to touchdowns. Castillo has felt his share of displeasure from fans, media, et al. He is from Philadelphia, so aside from showing up in his front yard with a roll of toilet paper, you’re not going to get to him.
“I understand the fans,” said Castillo, whose interception in the second overtime last week sealed Iowa’s win at Michigan State. “I’ve been around Philadelphia. It’s bad over there, so I’m too worried about it. You just brush it off and live your life.
“I just go out and do what I know how to do. It only matters what’s said inside [the Iowa program], but we all do appreciate the fans coming to every game. We’ve got to impress them.”
Castillo is from Philadelphia because that’s where he dad, Juan, coached football. It was the place his family called home and still might, even after Juan Castillo was fired as the Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator this week.
Before the 2011 season, Eagles head coach Andy Reid promote Castillo to defensive coordinator after 13 seasons as offensive line coach. The move was unconventional and Castillo was under the microscope right from the start. The defense struggled during the Eagles’ 4-8 start in ’11, but a four-game winning streak at the end kept the staff in place.
Reid made the call Tuesday.
“I put Juan in this situation and things didn’t work out the way I had hoped,” Reid said. “I take full responsibility for putting him in that situation.”
The move resonated within the walls of the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
“It’s the way things are. It’s a business,” senior center James Ferentz said. “When you don’t perform well at your job, you’re doing to get asked to move along.
“We all feel for Greg and his family. It’s a tough time to go through, but coach Castillo is one of the best in the business. He’ll land right on his feet and it’ll be a quick turnaround for him, I’m sure.”
Greg Castillo, who’ll probably yield to a healthy B.J. Lowery in the lineup this week, was probably somewhat shaken and maybe a little relieved. The pressure was off. He wasn’t available for interviews Tuesday.
“I’m sure Greg is a little selfishly happy that he’ll be able to come to see a few more of his games and watch him play,” said James Ferentz, who’s father, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, endured some uneasy moments in Cleveland during the mid-’90s. “There are some positives in it, but it’s just the nature of the beast.”
Kirk Ferentz has avoided the ax during his career, but nearly every coach knows the drill. And yes, coaches are handsomely compensated, but they don’t have tenure and every season is a re-election, to a certain degree.
“Greg understands his dad’s profession,” Kirk Ferentz said. “Greg will be fine, but like any son, or for any person, it’s hard. At the same time, Juan is one of the best people and best coaches I’ve been around at any level. The good news is he’ll have a long line of suitors when the time comes. It’s one of those temporary bumps in the road.”
Ferentz was part of Bill Belichick’s staff in Cleveland in 1995, the year Browns owner Art Modell moved the club to Baltimore. When Modell announced the Browns’ move, the team fell apart. Belichick ended up 36-44 in Cleveland and was fired after the season. He’s won three Super Bowls with the Patriots since.
“I would suggest Bill Belichick was a Hall of Fame coach in Cleveland and I don’t think he’s changed that much,” said Kirk Ferentz, who went with the franchise to Baltimore and served as an assistant head coach and O-line coach. “Sometimes, it’s circumstance and that’s part of our profession.”
While the Ferentzes have had a secure ride, the Donatells have moved quite a few times.
Iowa strong safety Tommy Donatell is the son of Ed Donatell, who’s the secondary coach with the San Francisco 49ers. Before the Niners, Ed Donatell was secondary coach with the Broncos. Before that, he was defensive coordinator at the University of Washington. And prior to that . . . You get the picture.
Ed Donatell is well-traveled, with at least a dozen stops that range from four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers to defensive backs coach at the University of Pacific in 1983.
Tommy, who has two interceptions this season and is tied for the team lead with Castillo, joked that he became pretty good at moving.
“There are a lot of good things in the profession, lots of opportunities,” he said. “You get to meet a lot of people. You get to do a lot of cool things. And, every once in a while, it’s a business situation. It’s tough and sucky, like you said, but you learn to roll with the punches and not listen to the noise outside and what they’re saying.
“You just know who your dad is and what kind of coach he is, what kind of person he is overall.”
Donatell was born in Olympia, Wash., and graduated from Peachtree Ridge High School in Duluth, Ga.
“Everywhere you go, you meet new friends, you get used to the situation,” he said. “I think every place has unique things about it that you enjoy. It’s an experience meeting all these new people.
And then, time to move.
“It’s a new chapter anytime we move. You start to get used to it, to be honest,” he said. “You keep some of the good friends and you make new friends. It’s just kind of life and you continue to go on.”