Norm Parker’s right foot amputated
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday that Norm Parker’s right foot has been amputated because of diabetes-related complications.
The Hawkeyes’ 12th-year defensive coordinator underwent the procedure “around two weeks” ago, Ferentz said. Parker was originally admitted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Sept. 10 for back pain.
Parker, who has had amputated toes on his left foot, was released from the hospital last week, but remains under doctor’s care.
“I can assure you all the medical people have worked extremely hard to avoid [amputation]. That’s the last resort in any case, I believe,” Ferentz said. “A team of physicians came to the conclusion that’s the best step, and I think we were all more than convinced it is.”
“I think we’re all really optimistic he’s going to come back and have a much better qualify of life than he had.”
Ferentz said, “There’s no celebration yet,” but he believes the situation is in much better shape than it was a couple weeks ago. Parker is undergoing thorough physical therapy and rehabilitation.
The defensive coordinator has missed the last four games, and Ferentz said he thinks it’s “probably a little ambitious” to think Parker can make it back in time for Iowa’s Oct. 16 game at Michigan.
The Hawkeyes have a bye this upcomingweekend.
“I think we’re still looking at a matter of weeks before he’s back with us, but I’m very confident that he’s fairly close now,” he added.
At the same time, Ferentz said, they wouldn’t risk more complications by rushing Parker back to his duties; they would continue to approach the situation “day by day” and “week by week.”
And again, he was quick to point out that the team’s defensive scheme has been handled by a committee of coaches in Parker’s absence, and not by any one person.
“We work together,” Ferentz said. “I’m not trying to be coy here; everybody’s working together. It’s our defense. Norm’s philosophy is well in place. Our players understand it, and our coaches understand it.”
If statistics demonstrate any understanding, Ferentz is spot on. Iowa’s defense is allowing only 10.2 points per game, second among all Football Bowl Subdivision teams behind only No. 1 Alabama. The Hawkeyes also rank fourth nationally among teams in total defense, surrendering just 242.2 yards per game.
Senior free safety Brett Greenwood stressed the assistant coaches’ ability to implement Parker’s game plan and ensure players’ focus since his hospitalization.
“He’s been here for so long, it’s been his system,” Greenwood said. “He’s implemented what he wants accomplished, and I think the assistant coaches have gone on and done a great job with it.”
Still, as senior defensive tackle Karl Klug put it, being without a defensive coordinator is “obviously a little different.” Klug raved about Parker’s ability to lend an overview of the Hawkeye defense as a unit, as well as his ability to give players the correct feedback so they can correct mistakes.
Ferentz maintained that he thinks Parker, who will turn 69 on Saturday, wants to come back “for the long haul,” and he hasn’t seen any indication of a retirement coming soon.
Greenwood called Parker a “fighter” that would be with the team right now if he could, and Klug testified to Parker’s love for his job.
“I think he’ll be out on the field until however long he can,” Klug said. “I think someone will have to drag him off the field.”
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