116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Iowa football's continuity is so continual that maybe it's more of a circle than a timeline.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis announced his retirement Friday after five seasons with the program. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is in the market for his third offensive coordinator going into what will be his 19th season as head coach.
This will be Iowa's sixth offensive coordinator hire in 39 years. The first bit of continuity is that Iowa has had only two head coaches in going on now 39 years. And now just the sixth offensive coordinator, a list that includes Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, legendary Iowa running backs coach Carl Jackson and now Davis, who won a national championship as coordinator at Texas in 2005.
Friday's news was a stand-alone. Ferentz offered nothing on the replacement nor the search for a new offensive coordinator. He has a news conference scheduled for 1:30 Monday. It wasn't a previously scheduled news conference.
There are some obvious possibilities.
Yes, Brian Ferentz will only be 34 in March, but Iowa's rushing production since he was named run game coordinator going into last season has been stellar.
During 2015's 12-2 run, Iowa rushed for 2,544 yards, second most in the Ferentz era (Iowa rushed for 2,784 in 2002). Iowa also had 35 rushing touchdowns last season, the most in Ferentz's 17 seasons as a head coach, second most in the Big Ten and 12th nationally.
This year, Iowa produced a pair of 1,000-yard rushers for the first time in school history. Senior Akrum Wadley, who announced Thursday that he will return to Iowa for his senior year, rushed for 1,081. LeShun Daniels went for 1,058.
The Hawkeyes weren't far off the 2,500 mark, finishing with 2,234 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. Iowa averaged 4.45 yards a carry in 2016, just off 2015's 4.48. Wadley averaged 6.43 yards a carry.
Brian Ferentz resisted an overture from Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien a few years ago to coach the offensive line in Houston. O'Brien and Brian Ferentz worked together with the New England Patriots (2008-11).
'You know, I'm close with Brian,' O'Brien said before the 2012 season. 'Any time you work with someone 24/7 six months out of the year for four years and you go to a Super Bowl with a guy and you have a lot of respect for his football knowledge and all those things, yeah, there's no question that that's a great friendship there. I obviously have a lot of respect for his dad and what he's done at the University of Iowa.'
Don't discount Brian Ferentz's time with the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick, a renowned coacher of coaches.
Kirk Ferentz, who worked under Belichick in Cleveland in the early 1990s, has called the Belichick experience a 'graduate school' for coaches.
'You're being coached or you're encouraged to leave,' Kirk Ferentz said. 'You can't help but learn when you're there.'
The big takeaway from learning under Belichick, O'Brien said, is discipline.
'Hopefully we're not a very penalized team, we don't get penalized a lot, hopefully we don't turn it over a lot,' he said. 'The way we practice, we try to create a physical practice environment and situational football. We really try to work on that quite a bit.
'Again, I'm not going to speak for coach (Brian) Ferentz on that. You'd have to ask him what he took from coach Belichick, but when you watch Iowa, you see a very tough, physical smart football team that doesn't beat themselves.'
There's a lot of football knowledge on Brian Ferentz's resume, just not a lot of stops. Of course, there would be cries of nepotism, there was when Kirk hired his son as O-line coach in 2012. The football organizational chart was actually rewritten so Brian would report to athletics director Gary Barta.
'For me it was a no-brainer,' Brian said. 'You can't say no to your father. And for me, personally, it was hard to say no to Iowa. I know that sounds cheesy and corny, but it was, it really was. This is a special place. I believe that.'
With two young children, would Brian Ferentz want this jump in responsibility? Kirk Ferentz has said the offensive coordinator position is a 'lightning rod.' Would he want his son taking those strikes, when a fourth-and-goal from the 1 falls short in a bowl game (rings a bell, right?).
There are other possibilities.
Joe Philbin served as Kirk Ferentz's offensive line coach from 1999-2002. He spent five seasons as the Packers' offensive coordinator before getting a shot as head coach with the Miami Dolphins in 2012. He was fired in 2015 and is now assistant head coach/offensive line coach with the Indianapolis Colts.
Philbin visited Iowa City for the Hawkeyes' victory over Michigan in November. Just a social call. Probably. Would Philbin walk away from the NFL? He also has head coaching experience and there are going to be at least six NFL openings this offseason.
Another familiar name for Iowa would be David Raih. Raih was a walk-on quarterback for the Hawkeyes (1999-2003). From 2004 to 2007, Raih had a six-figure salary at a job with Zimmer Inc., selling hip and knee implants to surgeons at the prestigious Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He begged for a job on Rick Neuheisel's staff at UCLA and was eventually hired as an unpaid intern. From 2010 to 2012, Raih was a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes, coaching quarterbacks, tight ends and offensive line.
Last February, he was promoted to offensive line assistant with the Green Bay Packers. Raih's resume is void of playcalling, but the NCAA likely will allow schools to hire a 10th assistant coach in April. Raih's experience with quarterbacks might allow Kirk Ferentz some flexibility in the coordinator hire.
Those are three possibilities with ties to the program. Of course, Kirk Ferentz could look outside. But this will be the sixth offensive coordinator Iowa has hired in the last 39 years. At 61, will Ferentz want to coach another coordinator on how to coordinate an offense at Iowa? The continuity for the style of Iowa football under Ferentz has been a power running game. There's a learning curve for an outsider.
That was the struggle with Davis. There were a ton of circumstances, but the passing game never meshed with the run. Kirk Ferentz described the passing game as 'stuck in sand' after the Northwestern defeat this year.
No one wants 'stuck in sand.'
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