Notebook: Greg Davis adjusting to Iowa

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 06, 2012 6:30 AM

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New Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Greg Davis has been in town for about a week, but he has a sense of Iowa City's dedication to its football team.

The 60-year-old, who recently held the same positions at Texas, said he walked into his hotel and was recognized and approached by a handful of men in their mid-20s.

"I was immediately invited to go to a bachelor party," he said and laughed. "I thought, 'Hey — football is pretty important here, too.'

"I didn't go, by the way."

Davis spoke to the media on Monday for the first time since his hiring was announced on Feb. 27, and he looked comfortable seated at a table next to head coach Kirk Ferentz. The coaches had only crossed paths on the playing field once — when Texas beat Iowa in the 2006 Alamo Bowl — but they were both familiar with the other's work through mutual acquaintances.

Former Iowa offensive-line coach Joe Philbin considered Davis for offensive coordinator when he took the Miami Dolphins' head coach job in January. He ended up selecting former Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O'Keefe — which opened the position for Davis — but put in a good word for his longtime friend.

"I said, 'Since you've [hired O'Keefe], how about calling Kirk for me?' " Davis said. "About the same time, I sent Kirk a text and said, 'Hey, if this rumor is true, I would love to have the opportunity to visit with you.' "

Ferentz said he asked around during his search for O'Keefe's replacement and heard only positive things about the Texas native.

"I spoke with [former Iowa player and Indianapolis Colt coach] Jim Cardwell a couple weeks ago, and the first name out of his mouth was Greg's," Ferentz said. "… That got me very, very excited, certainly, and we're really thrilled to have Greg here. We feel very fortunate."

Davis' credentials back up Ferentz's enthusiasm.

He helped Texas win the BCS national championship in 2005, the same year quarterback Vince Young took home the Davey O'Brien Award as the nation's best college gunslinger. Davis said he had never dealt with a true dual-threat quarterback before Young came along, but he built the offense so his star could thrive; he'll bring the same attitude to Iowa, he said.

"What we'll do here will be driven by what we have here," he said. "This spring, you'll see a foundation laid … we'll build off that once we identify where exactly the strengths are about this football team."

Davis said he watched tape of last season's Iowa games, but he's still matching numbers and faces with names as he prepares for the first day of spring practice later this month.

Until then, most of his experience with the Hawkeyes comes from coaching against them in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The Longhorns came out on top, 26-24, in a game in which an apparent Iowa touchdown to tight end Scott Chandler was called back because Chandler was ruled an ineligible receiver.

"That might not have been called if the game would have been up [in the Midwest]," Davis said with a small smile. "The wrong team won."

A state of emergency

Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta said Davis' hiring was a "unique circumstance" created by O'Keefe's relatively sudden departure just a few weeks before spring football.

Barta categorized Davis as an "emergency hiring," a term the university uses when there isn't time to go through a full interview process. That means Davis is technically an interim coach, although Barta said he fully expects him to be back with the team after the 2012-13 season.

"He's our offensive coordinator, but there's a point where Kirk will have to go through and do a formal process," Barta said. "You need to hire someone short-term in emergency because you don't have much time, and to do that, at some point, you go through and you interview other candidates as well. It can happen anytime within that first year."

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