April 23, 2024

Kirk Ferentz digging deep in search of new Offensive Coordinator

Iowa Hawkeyes Football

Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz walks along the sideline during a replay review in the fourth quarter of the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl against Tennessee Monday January 1, 2024 at Camping World Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

ORLANDO, Fla. — After coaching his last game alongside son Brian in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl, Kirk Ferentz is now in search for some new blood to call the plays for Iowa.

Although he’s College Football’s longest-tenured coach, this will only be the fourth time over the past 15 seasons that the Hawkeyes are on the prowl for an Offensive Coordinator. Ken O’Keefe, Greg Davis and Brian Ferentz all held that position, but Iowa never had a top-notch offense under their watch.

The Hawkeyes style of offense under Ferentz has never been about explosive plays, or slinging the ball over the field. Instead it’s a blue-collar approach, with pounding the rock, controlling the clock and play-action to the tight ends. Field position, defense and special teams has always been Iowa’s recipe for success.

However, Hawkeye fans believe Ferentz’s style of offense is old-school, and outdated. So they want him to evolve with the times. Which is why he’s thinking outside of the box with Iowa’s new search. First and foremost, Ferentz wants an individual who checks all of the right boxes.

“First of all, I want a guy who is going to be a really good team player,” Ferentz said. “Obviously, they have to have expertise in their area, like all of our coaches, and they have to be good people.”

Several rumors have swirled around about potential candidates for the position. That began after Interim Athletic Director Beth Goetz made it public that Ferentz wasn’t returning to the team for the 2024 season. Some of those names include former Northwestern Coach Pat Fitzgerald, former Wisconsin Coach Paul Chryst, former Nebraska Coach Scott Frost, and even former Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury.

The problem is those coaches come with some baggage, and Ferentz wants someone that is a proven winner on and off the field. Most importantly, they have to always put the players first.

“They have to be guys that are going to mentor the players they work, and they have to be people that understand a team is a team,” he said. “How they are in front of the players, critical, and how they are with each other, critical.”

Ferentz usually promotes from within, but he understands now that’s not going to be enough to satisfy the fans. Some fans want to see a spread attack, or more tempo like Tennessee’s. The Big Ten is extremely physical, and to be consistently successful on offense a team must have great blockers, solid running backs, possession receivers and a mobile quarterback.

The Hawkeyes need a coach that’s great with quarterbacks, can establish an identity on offense and put points on the scoreboard. Not to mention time is of the essence with recruiting. Having a proven system will go a long way with prospects coming to Iowa City, and Ferentz wants whoever lands the job to know the area and culture.

“Obviously, they have to be great representatives of university, we coach in college, not an NFL team, so there is a responsibility there,” the 68-year old coach said. “What you do in the community, go right down the list, that stuff is important.”

Bottom line, Iowa’s offense has nowhere to go, but up. It’s hard to argue against that when the Hawkeyes finished dead last in the FBS in total offense, and suffered three shutout losses this season. Ferentz is taking this search very seriously, and there’s some pressure because he knows his future with the program depends on it, and Goetz is watching over his shoulder.

“I just want to get it right, that is my responsibility as head coach is to get it right, period, and get the best guy we can get.”