IOWA CITY, Iowa — The news conference was for new Iowa quarterback coach Ken O’Keefe.
It might as well have been for offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz.
O’Keefe spent a significant amount of his 13 minutes on Sunday reiterating that he’s here to help the new offensive coordinator — and not do anything more.
“He is absolutely ready to do whatever he needs to do at this point as offensive coordinator,” O’Keefe said. “I just need to be concerned about making sure the guys that I am coaching are doing whatever they are supposed to be doing. And whatever Brian wants me to do, I obviously need to get done, as well and what (head coach) Kirk (Ferentz) wants done. Nothing is different.”
Translation: It’s the status quo, as much as there can be status quo while going through an offensive staff overhaul.
After head coaching stints at Allegheny College (1990-97) and Fordham University (1998), O’Keefe served as Iowa’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1999-2011. His hire on Friday looked to be as much mentor role as position coach.
The more the 63-year-old O’Keefe talked, the more he described himself as just another cog in the Iowa football machine. It wasn’t his passing concepts being added to the offense. It was Brian Ferentz’s playbook he’d be teaching.
“I look forward to getting told what to do by him now, which is great,” O’Keefe said. “It won’t just be my wife telling me what to do now. He’ll be able to help with that chore as well.”
It’s a situation O’Keefe said he is more than fine with.
“I am in the devolution of my career,” O’Keefe said. “I have been the head coach, the coordinator and now I’m a position coach.”
There is some truth in that. What Brian Ferentz wants what will be done. O’Keefe is going to be the good soldier.
But he’s also one of Kirk Ferentz’s most trusted advisors. He’s done it all at nearly every level of the game. He spent the last five years in the NFL working with the Miami Dolphins as a wide receivers coach and analyst. O’Keefe’s experience and knowledge won’t be ignored. It’s going to be utilized.
“To me, he is just going to be an outstanding resource on our staff, for me, someone to lean on 18 years ago (as a new head coach),” Kirk Ferentz said, “(O’Keefe had) extensive head-coaching experience when we came here. I was leaning on him hard. Now, I just think everyone on our staff will really benefit from his wealth of experience on every level. I am really happy about that.”
He’ll help, but his main purpose will be to develop the quarterbacks. The accomplishments of his former quarterbacks — Brad Banks, James Vandenberg, Ricky Stanzi and Drew Tate — are littered throughout the all-time record book. There was inconsistencies in O’Keefe’s first stint, though, and he’ll need to stop the trend of quarterbacks failing to play their best football as seniors.
O’Keefe doesn’t know too much about the signal callers he is inheriting. After all, there is only so much he can learn from the 12 passes Nathan Stanley attempted last season. But that’s fine. He’ll get a better understand of the quarterbacks come spring practice.
Sunday wasn’t about the players anyway. It was about O’Keefe detailing exactly what his role would be within Brian Ferentz’s offense. With the emphasis on Brian Ferentz.
“I know him pretty well,” O’Keefe said. “I understand his personality. He understands mine. I have coached him before. We have known each other for a long, long time. I think it will be fine.”