Point/counterpoint: Should Phil Parker take over as Iowa's next defensive coordinator?

BY DI STAFF | JANUARY 24, 2012 7:20 AM

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It has been 44 days since the retirement of Norm Parker was announced, and the Iowa football program is still without a defensive coordinator. Throughout the nearly month and a half, many names have been bandied about for the vacant position.

But the search will end with a man already in Iowa City: Phil Parker.

He is Iowa's current defensive-back coach, he has been on the Hawkeye staff for Kirk Ferentz's entire tenure, and he served as co-defensive coordinator during Norm Parker's health-related absence in 2010.

Ferentz will likely prefer the consistency of promoting a current assistant, as opposed to bringing someone in from outside the program.

Phil Parker would probably keep many of his predecessor's schemes while adding his own touches to the Iowa defense. This would provide a smooth transition for both coaches and players. Plus the players, instead of having to acclimate to a new coach, would simply have to adapt to the minor changes installed by a familiar face.

While bringing in someone like former Penn State coach Tom Bradley or another big name may inspire more enthusiasm among the fans, Parker would be a good choice to keep the program stable. Parker has coached players now in the NFL, including 2007 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Bob Sanders and Super Bowl-bound Tyler Sash, and his successes as defensive-back coach would translate to the entire defense.

Whether or not hiring Parker is the right move for the Iowa football program is up for debate.

But when Iowa finally announces its new defensive coordinator, it will be Phil Parker.

— by Ryan Murphy


First of all, I have nothing against Phil Parker. He has proved to be a solid coach, and it would no doubt be a nice bit of sentiment to enter the new age of Iowa football with another Parker calling the defensive plays (Phil Parker isn't related to Norm Parker, but still).

And there's no doubt in my mind Parker should stay on Kirk Ferentz's staff; his track record — the Hawkeyes were among the top 15 teams in the country in interceptions in three of the last four years — is just too good to let him go elsewhere.

But Iowa's defense was called into question almost every single week this year, so Ferentz would be better served to outsource the head job than promote Parker.

The defensive numbers in 2011 were the worst the program has seen since 2007. Opponents' points per game skyrocketed to 23.8 points, up from 17.0 in 2010 — a jump of 89 total points over the course of the season. The Hawkeyes' interception total dipped from 19 in 2010 to 10 in 2011.

The defense looked predictable this past season, especially in the Big Ten, and a new face would shake things up and keep conference foes from feasting on Iowa's old plays.

The question about a rough transition for Iowa players is moot. People come and go in sports all the time, both on the field and on the sidelines; Iowa will adjust to a new scheme, just like it had to shake things up when 75 percent of the defensive line was drafted after last season.

Of course, the longer Ferentz waits to hire someone, the more likely it becomes that Parker will take the reins as other names drop out of the market. Parker 2.0 wouldn't be the end of the world; the system has largely been successful for more than a decade, and Phil Parker might add enough wrinkles to keep opponents off balance.

But the Hawkeyes have lost a lot of players this off-season on both sides of the ball; it isn't reasonable to expect the defense as it is to make up for the lack of Riley Reiff, Marvin McNutt, and a proven running game.

It's time to shake things up in Iowa City.

— by Seth Roberts

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