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Notebook: Ferentz talks new coaches, Coker

BY SETH ROBERTS | FEBRUARY 09, 2012 7:20 AM

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Almost two months passed between the time former Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker retired and the day the Hawkeyes hired his replacement.

That replacement, which took the shape of a promotion for former secondary coach Phil Parker, was announced on Tuesday. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon; he said he settled on Parker after carefully considering what he called "a lot of tremendous options," both from within and outside the program.

"There were a lot of interesting candidates, and new ones kept appearing along the way," Ferentz said. "I just didn't see any advantage to moving quickly. Unless you have to, there's no real advantage to that."

Ferentz said Parker wasn't always the leading candidate for the job, but that he eventually separated himself from the pack because of his teaching ability and track record.

"He's a really respected, outstanding coach," Ferentz said. "I think he's got a vision for what he wants to do, and the ability to communicate that to the staff and to our players — and to lead our players, ultimately."

But not everyone is as happy with Ferentz's decision as the coach himself appears to be. ESPN.com writer Adam Rittenberg responded to a question in his weekly chat that characterized the choice as "vanilla" and fodder for "more 'bend but don't break (but actually break)' defense."

"I don't think Iowa fans would have been upset had [Ferentz] promoted Phil Parker back in December," Rittenberg responded on Wednesday. "But there was more to this search and outside candidates were contacted, I'm told. Ultimately, Iowa went with Phil Parker, who will maintain the defensive structure we've seen under Norm [Parker]."

Ferentz probably won't take quite as long to fill his vacant offensive coaching positions, including the offensive coordinator spot; spring practice begins on March 24.

"We have some ideas where to go," he said. "… I'm not ruling anything out right now. We're just going to take a little time here, think about things, and see what's there."

Special teams to remain a shared job

Newly named defensive backs coach Darrell Wilson and 12-year running backs coach Lester Erb have split Iowa's special-team duties since Wilson arrived on campus in 2002.

Ferentz said both Wilson and Erb will remain on special teams for the foreseeable future, but that he may throw another coach into the mix, too.

"A couple, three guys will have very prominent roles," he said. "I want to make sure we don't short-change [Wilson] on the transition … I might have to ease his burden a little bit."

Four incoming graduate assistants could help out in the film room, Ferentz said. Iowa had two graduate assistants last year.

"At least we have a little bit more manpower now," the head coach said. "Now we've got four guys to abuse, instead of two."

Ferentz on Coker: 'It wasn't a fun period'

Wednesday marked the first time Ferentz discussed former running back Marcus Coker since the Big Ten's second-leading rusher in 2011 decided to transfer to Stony Brook in New York.

Ferentz didn't elaborate much on the circumstances in which Coker left the program — he was suspended for the Insight Bowl after an unspecified "violation of the UI Student-Athlete Code of Conduct" and was the subject of a local sexual-assault investigation. He was not charged.

"He made a decision to leave here. I don't know if it was a surprise," Ferentz said. "It wasn't a fun race to run there, or fun period. Ultimately, there was probably a little frustration there. He made a decision he felt was best for him."

Follow DI Sports Editor Seth Roberts on Twitter.


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