What would be the downside of a new offensive coordinator?
Kirk Ferentz explains why he decided to keep Brian Ferentz as Iowa’s offensive coordinator
Kirk Ferentz offers a defense of his son and explains why he decided to keep Brian Ferentz as Iowa’s offensive coordinator.
Kirk Ferentz took to the pulpit at the Hansen Football Performance Center on Wednesday with an impossible task: to defend the indefensible.
Don’t get me wrong, it was Ferentz’s choice. He might have been the most popular guy in this state – just not within his own family – and unveiled a big change on offense after the Hawkeyes were historically atrocious in this department for most of a season and half. But 32 days after Iowa ended the 2022 season with the worst Power Five offense since 2014 and the program’s worst yardage average since Bob Commings was head coach in 1978, Ferentz said no personnel changes. coaching staff and empowered his eldest son, Brian, to begin his seventh season as Iowa’s offensive coordinator.
The retained coaching staff will meet on Monday to discuss potential adjustments to the offensive system. But in case you were wondering, Kirk Ferentz made sure to clarify, “It’s not going to be drastically different. I’m not predicting anything wild or absurd there. I think we’ve been pretty consistent in our approach, really, for 24 years. We own it. We have the statistics.
For a vocal part of a Hawkeye fanbase who watched the rival Wisconsin program make bold offensive hires this offseason with big transfer acquisitions, seeing the Hawkeyes stand on the 130th-ranked offense out of 131 FBS teams was infuriating. . It was easy to find frustrated fans on social media who scoffed at Wednesday’s appearance of nepotism and said they wouldn’t buy any more subscriptions.
Regarding the change of offensive coordinator, the question is quite simple: what would be the disadvantage?
Kirk Ferentz was faced with many legitimate questions on Wednesday, but offered little to no clear answers. Given the obvious angst that has been building for months over the future of the offensive coordinator job, some straight talking was needed, or at least hoped for. Instead, we got a lot of hand-picked numbers that only tell one side of the story.
Why keep the same scheme and the same play-caller?
“Winning eight games is not an easy trick when you’re averaging 17.8 (points) per game,” said Ferentz, who later expressed optimism in additions to the Transfer Portal like the quarterback- guard Cade McNamara and tight end Erick All to boost the passing game and offensive linemen (Rusty Feth and Daijon Parker) to help the Hawkeyes’ efforts up front.
But this answer deflected the question.
Earlier in the week, Hawkeye football tweeted a graphic about his defense titled “Built Different”. It showed that Phil Parker’s Iowa defense since 2018 ranks second in the FBS in points allowed (16.1 per game), first in yards allowed per game (4.49), first for steals (83) and first for fewest explosive plays allowed per game (1.62). That and elite special teams are why Iowa had an 8-5 season.
In contrast, Brian Ferentz’s offense in 2022 ranked 129th in yards per play (4.24), 127th in yards per rush (2.92) and 120th in yards per pass (5.83) and 124th in touchdown percentage in the red zone (44.4%).
What would you say to fans who want radical changes?
“I’m going to share a stat with you. When we score 24 points, do you want to try to guess our record of the last (eight) years? Ferentz posed, before answering her. “Yeah, it’s 55-3, which I think everyone would accept. But nobody likes the 24. That’s where the problem really is, in my opinion. I’m more focused on winning, me personally.”
Again, a very misleading statistic. Not mentioned: Iowa wouldn’t have gone 24 in 10 of those 58 games without defense or special teams touchdowns. Iowa fell short 40 times in that span to reach 24 points and went 13-27 in those games. The Hawkeyes have lost 18 times – an average of 2.25 losses per year – when the defense limited their opponents to 24 or fewer. Fans see championship-level defense, championship-level special teams, and an offense that turns 10-win seasons into eight-win seasons.
What does Brian do well when it comes to breaking down play and calling plays?
“Well, I’m going to put him in the same basket as Phil. Both of these guys are operating at a very high level,” Ferentz said in one of his most bizarre responses of the day.
“Being a coordinator is hard work. There’s a lot going on.”
For future reference, probably not a PR winner to stack Brian Ferentz’s track record on par with Phil Parker’s.
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Dargan Southard, Hawk Central
What was the specific process for evaluating Brian?
Rather than answer the question, Ferentz told a story about the team going 5-6 in his final year as Iowa’s offensive line coach in 1989. They responded by having a Rose Bowl season in 1990 and going 10-1-1 in 1991. He also referenced his admiration for the stable Pittsburgh Steelers franchise and how he took that approach as a coach- chief.
“Normally we rally and fix the problem,” Ferentz said, “and that’s always been my attitude.”
What good is Brian doing that you take those bullets for him?
Ferentz’s response began by comparing the 2009 season, which saw Iowa average 23.2 points per game but rely on defense to win the Orange Bowl and go 11-2, and the 2021 season, which saw Iowa average 23.4 points per game and go 10-4. In Ferentz’s mind, there was a lot more happiness in 2009 than in 2021, and he wondered why.
But as his response flowed, he provided the closest thing to a straight answer by arguing for his son’s retention.
“Don’t minimize the footage. It is important. But I would also look at the first four years he was a coordinator, and we averaged 29 points per game,” Ferentz said. “Based on the stat (55-3) that I gave you earlier, that puts us in a pretty good position, and we’ve had pretty good success in those four years (33-14 record) I watch the players, I watch everything involved, and we can all improve, starting with me.
“But I think we have the right guys. I guess that’s what I’m saying, whether it’s players or coaches and (I) can’t wait to get to work.
Bottom line, without saying so explicitly, Ferentz feels Iowa had better offensive players from 2017-20 under his son than they have in the past two seasons, especially on the offensive line (injuries) and wide receiver (attrition).
Although you won’t know it from the social media responses – three-word titles for our Wednesday radio show included “Definition of Madness”, “Public Relations Disaster” and “Ground Hawks Day” – Ferentz will have plenty of support, too, because his steady hand as CEO has stood the test of time and he’s rallied in dark places before (like in 2008 and 2015). He enters the 2023 season with 186 wins at Iowa, eight shy of Bo Schembechler for No. 3 on the Big Ten coaches’ win list.
Ferentz must have known when he went to speak on Wednesday, with the (lack of) news he was sharing, he had little chance of winning the press conference. But he tried anyway.
Now, let’s just say this: Brian Ferentz still has the option of leaving the program for a job in the NFL. He cut his teeth as a coach in New England from 2008 to 2011 and enjoys close ties with new Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and many other top NFL coaching candidates. No door has been totally closed by Kirk Ferentz, and Iowa would have someone they would trust in analyst Jon Budmayr, at least on an interim basis, should such a development occur days, weeks from now. weeks or even a month.
But either Kirk knows Brian has a soft landing planned (being charged in a federal lawsuit probably doesn’t help his marketing) or it was a classic case of why nepotism is routinely discouraged in the workplace. professionals.
Again, what would have been the downside of trying someone new in the OC chair? To maybe try someone who actually has experience coaching quarterbacks?
Even change-averse Clemson coach Dabo Swinney walked out and paid $1.75 million a year to lure TCU offensive coordinator Garrett Riley this offseason in a bid to revive the Tigers offense. . Brian Ferentz earned $900,000 last season and will be in line for a roughly 8% raise based on his dad’s contract, which means the college will likely pay around $1 million next season for that the head coach’s son plays for an Iowa team that has almost unbelievably scored one or no offensive touchdowns in 12 of its last 21 games.
For $1 million a year — or heck, up to Parker’s $1.3 million a year salary in 2022 (Iowa has the money) — Kirk Ferentz basically told us on Wednesday that his program doesn’t wasn’t able to find someone better. Josh Gattis, the 2021 Broyles Award-winning assistant coach who teamed with McNamara to lead Michigan’s pro-style offense in the college football playoffs, is in the market after a tough year in Miami. Former Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, who has close ties to Budmayr and respect for Ferentz, is available.
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta details discussions with Brian Ferentz, his expectations and more
Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said he had several conversations with offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz about his expectations for improvement.
Kennington Lloyd Smith III, Hawk Central
Athletic director Gary Barta had the power to end this family arrangement once and for all. He is technically Brian’s supervisor to circumvent the college’s nepotism policies. Barta spoke on Wednesday and said, yeah, he’s met Brian and Kirk more than he has in the past month. But no, he wouldn’t reverse Kirk’s decision.
“Obviously, offensively, the performance we had last year isn’t going to cut it,” Barta said. “It’s not acceptable.”
But as he and Kirk Ferentz made clear on Wednesday, that is clearly the case.
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow covered the sport for 28 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.