IOWA CITY, Iowa — Little old North Dakota State came into Kinnick Stadium last fall and flatlined the Iowa Hawkeyes at their own game.
The Bison overpowered the Hawkeyes along both lines of scrimmage and particularly were impressive on offense. They rushed for 255 yards, including 103 in the fourth quarter. North Dakota State kept the ball for 10 minutes, 45 seconds in the final period and kicked a last-second field goal to win 23-21.
The architect for that offensive infusion was Bison offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tim Polasek. Now, according to the Fargo (N.D.) Forum’s Jeff Kolpack, Polasek made such a good impression with the Hawkeyes brass on that September Saturday that he’s moving to Iowa City. His role is undetermined and the move is not yet official.
I can confirm that Bison offensive coordinator Tim Polasek is leaving NDSU for an assistant position with Iowa.
— Jeff Kolpack (@FGOSPORTSWRITER) February 14, 2017
Polasek served as offensive coordinator for three seasons with the Bison and twice won national titles. He helped mold quarterback Carson Wentz into the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He also shaped a running attack around John Crockett, who rushed for a school-record 1,994 yards and added 400 receiving yards. In 2015, the Bison averaged 5.2 yards per carry and rushed for 235.2 yards per game. They ranked second in FCS in time of possession (34:03), third in first downs (343) and fifth in third-down conversion percentage (.483). According to Kolpack, the Bison were 40-5 with Polasek calling plays.
It’s a smart move for Iowa for multiple reasons. One, Polasek has experience coaching multiple positions and his role likely will be finalized later this spring. He played quarterback at Division III Concordia (Wis.) University and set single-game, single-season and career records in touchdown passes, passing yards, completions and completion percentage. He’s coached wide receivers, defensive backs, special teams and tight ends at multiple stops. He coached tight ends and fullbacks in 2013 at Northern Illinois, which beat Iowa 27-24 in the opener.
Another reason is Polasek coordinated an attack that had a similar philosophy to Iowa. North Dakota State was built at the line of scrimmage, just like Iowa. The Bison used their personnel to exploit opponents’ weaknesses, which they did that day in Iowa City on both sides of the ball. North Dakota State put itself in winning positions that day with terrific execution. That attention to detail should translate into whatever position grouping Polasek leads.
Perhaps more of an intangible is Polasek’s coaching line. He spent three years at Wisconsin-Stevens Point before heading to North Dakota State as a graduate assistant and position coach for seven years. After one season at Northern Illinois, Polasek returned to Fargo as offensive coordinator. In each of his past 6 six years, Polasek has been a part of teams that have won at least 12 games.
Nowhere does the game get taught at a purer level than lower-division college football, and no program has enjoyed North Dakota State’s sustained level of success. From 2011 through 2015, the Bison won FCS national titles, and Polasek was there for four. In 2013, Northern Illinois finished 12-2.
Polasek has a chance to help Iowa recruit in the Upper Midwest. In September, before the Hawkeyes faced the Bison, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz quipped, “We might have to start recruiting North Dakota because they have a lot of guys in-state that play well for them.” That’s a real possibility now.
Iowa’s three coaching departures — Greg Davis, Bobby Kennedy and Chris White — recruited Kansas City, Texas, Colorado, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania. New quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe, who served as Iowa’s offensive coordinator from 1999 through 2011, formerly recruited Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Ohio.
Polasek’s scheme last September in Iowa City and the offense’s development of Wentz and current quarterback Easton Stick proved he can coach. North Dakota State had plenty of players who could compete at Iowa. While Polasek’s hire might not make a splash, it does fit comfortably into how Iowa wants to reshape its offense. That already makes it a step in the right direction.
Iowa’s current staff alignment
|Kirk Ferentz||Head coach|
|Brian Ferentz||Offensive coordinator|
|Phil Parker||Defensive coordinator|
|LeVar Woods||Tight ends|
|Reese Morgan||Defensive line|
|Kelvin Bell||Recruiting coordinator/defensive line|
|Tim Polasek||Offense: TBD|