Hawkeyes keep it in the family
Kirk Ferentz taps son Brian as new offensive coordinator
IOWA CITY — Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz named offensive line coach and son Brian Ferentz as his new offensive coordinator Monday, less than a week after Greg Davis announced his retirement.
Brian Ferentz played for the Hawkeyes before getting into coaching. He later spent four seasons in various roles on the coaching staff of the New England Patriots, serving as a tight ends coach in 2010-11.
Now 33, Ferentz returned to Iowa in 2012 as its line coach, and he added running game coordinator to his duties in 2015. Iowa’s offensive line last year won the Joe Moore Award, given to the nation’s best unit.
“It’s been like a dream to me, and I just feel so excited and so happy to have been a part of this program for such a long time,” Brian Ferentz said. “That being said, my history helps me appreciate the responsibility as the offensive coordinator.
“As we look ahead to 2017, we will develop this Iowa team to be tough, smart, and physical — the foundation of Iowa football for the past 18 years. But to compete for a Big Ten championship, we must also be adaptable and flexible — to make the changes necessary that will give us the best opportunity to win.”
Brian Ferentz has reported to athletic director Gary Barta, not his father, since being hired at Iowa in order to avoid charges of nepotism. Kirk Ferentz said Monday that his son will continue to report to Barta.
“I don’t think it’s a huge deal. If anything, it probably works against him in this position. Everyone has an opinion about what he’s going to do,” Kirk Ferentz said about hiring his son to run his offense. “It’s just one more thing that’s going to be wrong the first time we go three-and-out.”
Iowa will also likely hire a new quarterbacks coach, since Davis was both the coordinator and the QB coach.
“He’s had a tremendous career at the University of Iowa … he appreciates what’s important here,” Kirk Ferentz said of his son. “Spending significant time in New England, starting from ground zero and working up to being a position coach and being around Bill Belichick and (Houston Texans coach) Bill O’Brien has been really beneficial for him. They’re great guys to have as mentors.”
Brian Ferentz doesn’t have much experience working with quarterbacks. But his first major decision will be to find a new one for 2017.
Sophomore-to-be Nathan Stanley will be the player in the best position to fill it. Stanley was listed as the starter on a pre-spring ball depth chart released Monday. Although he and junior Tyler Wiegers were listed as co-backups to C.J. Beathard for all of 2016, Stanley filled in when Beathard needed a rest.
Though Stanley threw just three passes last season, the fact that the coaching staff burned his redshirt as a true freshman despite having a perfectly capable option in Wiegers speaks to how highly Iowa thinks of their young quarterback.
“No regrets there,” Kirk Ferentz said of not using a redshirt for Stanley.
The Hawkeyes also return five starters, all upperclassmen, on a line that was among the nation’s best last season. The return of running back Akrum Wadley and wide receiver Matt VandeBerg will give Iowa two potential All-Big Ten type players at skill positions.
“It’s not going to look dramatically different. But there will be tweaks,” Kirk Ferentz said of the offense heading into spring practice.