Hawks boast veteran football coaching staff for 2011 season


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The Big Ten coaching landscape is dotted with new names and faces this year.

Jerry Kill. Brady Hoke. Kevin Wilson. Luke Fickell. Even Bo Pelini, who has been at Nebraska since the 2008 season, is in his first year in the conference.

But then, there's Iowa.

Head coach Kirk Ferentz is entering his 13th year with the Hawkeyes. So is offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe, defensive coordinator Norm Parker, tight ends coach Eric Johnson, defensive backs coach Phil Parker, and strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

All told, the 25-member list of Black and Gold coaching staff includes 21 individuals that have been at Iowa for at least five years.

Even with the impressive longevity of the staff, though, not everything has been smooth sailing — especially, it seems, in the past 12 months.

In January, news broke of 13 Iowa football players that had been hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, a muscle injury syndrome in which muscle fiber is released into the bloodstream. The outbreak was traced back to a series of high-intensity workouts, and members of the national media were quick to blame Doyle.

And while a subsequent report cleared Iowa's coaches — including Doyle — of any wrongdoing, the strength and conditioning coach that many consider to be the finest in the country didn't talk about the incident until Iowa's media day earlier this month.

"In the past 13 years at Iowa, we've had 26 cases [of offseason workouts, in winter and summer] where we've come back into an offseason training cycle … and we had a problem in January. We've moved on," he said. "We're looking forward to camp. We're looking forward to a hell of a year."

Doyle said the particular workout program that caused the outbreak won't be re-implemented, and said the staff will continue to learn and evolve while still training the players to be able to compete at a high level.

He declined to comment about what being blamed for the incident meant to him on a personal level.
As difficult as Doyle's offseason may have been, though, it pales in comparison to the year Norm Parker has had.

Parker's right foot was amputated last September due to diabetes-related complications, and he missed most of the 2010 season while in the hospital and during a lengthy rehabilitation process.

He returned to the Hawkeyes in time for Iowa's win in the Insight Bowl, and has repeatedly said during the offseason that he expects to fully resume coaching this year — even it it's from the press box.

"[The routine] should be the same … I don't see it being any different," he said at Iowa's media day. "When you have to scale things back and do that kind of stuff, then it's time for somebody else to do it."

The 69-year-old Parker has been fitted with a prosthetic leg, and has been motoring around in a golf cart.

Even if Parker's mobility has improved, though, Ferentz said he'd like his longtime defensive coordinator to take it easy.

"The biggest thing … I've tried to encourage him to examine his methodology in season — the way he goes about things," Ferentz said. "At some point, he's going to have to learn how to shut the door, take a nap maybe, and relax a little bit."

But Parker didn't seem to think much of that idea.

"If my door's shut, does he know if I'm sleeping or not?" he said with a smile.

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