IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kirk Ferentz probably knows what he wants to do with the new NCAA-allowed 10th assistant coach position. Iowa put a tentative plan in place last year.
So will it be a defensive coach?
“No, not necessarily,” the Hawkeyes head coach said at a Wednesday press conference. “We have an open mind. We’ll see where it goes.”
Did Ferentz give a hint about his plan for utilizing the additional coach? Maybe. Regardless, there is an option that makes sense for Iowa with the new position.
Move offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz out of his role as running backs coach.
The Hawkeyes can then fill that position with a strong recruiter.
This wouldn’t be an indictment of the job Brian Ferentz did in his first year coaching the ball carriers. On the contrary, it puts Iowa in position to best utilize one of his biggest strengths as a coach.
Before we get there, you need to know that tight ends coach LeVar Woods is becoming the full-time special teams coach. Ferentz hinted at the move when the 10th coach was being considered last year.
Woods added special teams to his workload for the 2017 season and fit into the role well. Woods was the mastermind behind Iowa using the lonesome polecat fake field-goal formation last season.
“It’s a really good niche for him,” Kirk Ferentz said. “So, yeah, I’m really excited about that. I think it’s going to be a good thing.”
That leaves Iowa with an opening for a tight ends coach, and it makes sense for Brian Ferentz to oversee that position group. During his time with the New England Patriots, Brian Ferentz spent 2010 and 2011 working with the tight ends. That coincides with Rob Gronkowski’s breakout as the premier tight end in the NFL.
“Brian Ferentz, my last year in New England, coached the tight ends and was the quality-control guy on offense,” Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien told Land of 10 last year. “He had Gronkowski and that group. And he was breaking film down on the side. That tells you everything you need to know about his work ethic.”
Brian Ferentz knows the position and how to develop talent there. Tight ends are often overlooked in college football. Some teams ask their tight ends coach to also serve as recruiting coordinator, because it’s easier to balance those jobs than tasking a coach responsible for a larger position group.
Iowa can gain an edge at tight end if Brian Ferentz shifts his concentration to that spot. This is an ideal time to pair his knowledge with a talented group. Making tight ends Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson the top receiving options is a possibility for 2018. If Iowa chooses to do that, having Brian Ferentz working closely with them could help smooth the transition.
It would also open up a spot to coach running backs. Kirk Ferentz will put together a list of must-have traits for the new coach. A strong recruiting background needs to be near the top of the list.
Recruiting and player development are the lifeblood of Iowa’s program, and it sounds as if the Hawkeyes are considering recruiting ties when it comes to the 10th assistant.
“Just all of the stuff we have to do,” Ferentz said. “Recruiting is a huge part of it, making sure our players are doing what they have to do. It’s full-time.”
Kirk Ferentz doesn’t expect to announce a hire until later in January or February. When he does, it makes sense for the coach to handle running backs.