116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY -- Norm Parker's long battle with diabetes cost him his right foot, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday.
Parker, 68, was hospitalized Sept. 10 for diabetes-related complications. Sources confirmed to The Gazette last Thursday that Parker had his right foot amputated at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Parker called into Iowa's pre-game radio show before the Hawkeyes played at Arizona on Sept. 18. Parker said that night a “medical procedure” was planned for Sept. 20.
Parker previously had toes amputated because of diabetes and has worn a cast 11 of the last 14 months because of sores.
"They [doctors] decided amputation was the best route to go," Ferentz said. "That was done successfully. He was released from the hospital last week. He's under doctor's care. Most importantly right now, he's rehabbing. As you can imagine, there's a trick to that."
Ferentz said Parker, who's been Ferentz's only defensive coordinator in 12 seasons at Iowa, sounded better Sunday and looked "fantastic" Monday when he saw him.
"He's upbeat right now," Ferentz said. "I don't want to say we've turned the corner or are on the downhill slope, but we're in much better shape than we were a couple weeks ago."
As far as a return, Ferentz said "I think we're still looking at a matter of weeks before he's back with us." Ferentz said he senses that Parker wants to come back for the long haul. Ferentz said a return for the Michigan game on Oct. 16 "might be a little ambitious."
"He has no inclination to retire. This is what he loves doing," Ferentz said. "A big part of the motivation for doing the surgery and for us being prudent here is for him to come back for the long haul and not just the rest of the season. That's not what we're looking for. . . . I think he's got a lot of things in mind for the next couple years, not just the next couple weeks."
The only game Parker has coached this year has been the opener against Eastern Illinois. LeVar Woods, a former Hawkeyes linebacker now in his second year as an administrative assistant, has been elevated to defensive assistant. The former NFL linebacker has helped on the field and with film breakdown.
Woods played three seasons for the Hawkeyes, including the last two with Parker as the defensive coordinator.
Ferentz has been reluctant to reveal specific resonsibilities on the defense since Parker has been in the hospital. He doesn't want to turn every play a team makes against Iowa into a blame game.
"I saw a friend of mine get fired two days ago, so the first time we give up a touchdown pass or a long run, who's calling that defense? All that stuff," Ferentz said. "None of the guys get paid enough to put up with that crap, so that's part of my reason."
Ferentz said he hadn't told Iowa players the news until after meeting with reporters Wednesday.
"Not having coach Parker, your defensive coordinator out there, it's been a little different," defensive tackle Karl Klug said. "But our coaches have filled in well and we'll embrace coach Parker when he comes back.
"I think he'll be on the field for however long he can be. Someone will have to drag him off the field."
Parker will be fitted with a prosthetic, Ferentz said, as he continues his rehabilitation.
This is video from the spring. I asked coach Parker what still charges his battery after having been in the business since 1965.
This is pre-Orange Bowl from last December.
The defensive coordinator was reluctant to talk about the health problems that took him off the field for the last four games, but he sort of outlined the toe problem and what that led to. He joked that he fell in a snow bank and needed help getting up the other day. Yes, he'd rather be on the field than in the press box, but knows he's likely coaching the Orange Bowl from upstairs. He plans to be back next season and doesn't want to be the guy who slows things down.
Here's Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz on Norm Parker's health.