Ken O’Keefe was named University of Iowa quarterbacks coach in February, 2017, serving in that role through the 2021 season. O’Keefe is currently filling an off-the-field roll with Hawkeye football. O’Keefe previously served as offensive coordinator for 13 seasons (1999-2011). He was Iowa’s quarterback coach for 12 seasons after coaching Hawkeye wide receivers in his first year on the staff.
The Hawkeyes won 10 games in 2021, winning the Big Ten’s West Division title and advancing to the conference championship game. Iowa concluded the season with an appearance in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl and was ranked 23rd in the nation in the final national rankings. Iowa’s streak of nine straight bowl invitations matches the longest in school history and the Hawkeyes have been in the Top 25 final rankings four straight seasons.
Iowa opened the 2021 season with six straight wins and closed the regular season with four straight victories to earn the West Division title and a berth in the league championship game for the second time since 2015. Iowa has been in the final national rankings in each of the past four seasons and has earned 19 conference wins in the past three seasons, Iowa’s highest three-year conference win total since 2002-04.
Following back-to-back narrow losses to open the 2020 season, Iowa won six straight games, all in Big Ten play, to complete the regular season. The Hawkeyes scored at least 26 points in each of the six wins. The winning streak included road wins at Minnesota, Penn State and Illinois, and trophy game victories over Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The Hawkeyes were ranked 15th in the nation in the final CFP rankings and coaches poll, and 16th by the Associated Press.
Iowa’s offense in 2020, with first year starting quarterback Spencer Petras, led the Big Ten in red zone offense (0.917), ranked second in scoring (31.8) and third in fewest tackles for loss allowed (5.1).
Iowa won 47 games from 2015-19, the highest total in school history over any five-year period, and a total that ranked ninth nationally. Iowa won its final four games in 2019 and ranked 15th in the nation in the final Associated Press and coaches polls.
The Hawkeyes concluded the 2019 campaign with a 10-3 record following a 49-24 win over No. 22 Southern California in the Holiday Bowl. The three losses were all to ranked opponents by a combined 14 points. The Hawkeyes were 4-1 in trophy games for the third straight season. Iowa has won three straight postseason games and 12 straight nonconference games.
Iowa completed the 2018 season with a 9-4 mark and a final ranking of 25th in the Associated Press national rankings. The Hawkeyes earned a 27-22 Outback Bowl win over No. 18 Mississippi State to close the season with three straight wins. The four losses came by a total of 23 points and all were decided in the final minutes of play. Iowa tied for second in the Big Ten West Division.
Iowa won eight games in both 2016 and 2017, including a Pinstripe Bowl victory to conclude the 2017 campaign. The Hawkeyes posted a perfect 12-0 regular season record in 2015, winning the West Division of the Big Ten Conference. Iowa participated in the 2016 Rose Bowl Game and the 2015 Big Ten Championship and ended the season in the top 10 in the final national rankings.
The Hawkeyes posted a perfect 12-0 regular season record in 2015, winning the West Division of the Big Ten Conference. Iowa participated in the 2016 Rose Bowl Game and the 2015 Big Ten Championship and ended the season in the top 10 in the final national rankings.
Iowa’s most recent bowl game invitations include the 2022 Citrus Bowl, 2020 Music City Bowl, 2019 Holiday Bowl, 2019 Outback Bowl, 2017 Outback Bowl, 2016 Rose Bowl Game, 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl and 2014 Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes have ranked in the final top 10 of both major polls five times in the past 20 seasons.
Iowa has appeared in 12 January bowl games since 2001 and has recorded January bowl wins over Florida (2004 Outback), Louisiana State (2005 Capital One), South Carolina (2009 Outback), Georgia Tech (2010 Orange), and Mississippi State (2019 Outback).
Iowa has won 167 games over the past 20 seasons, including 103 Big Ten games. Along with the 2021 and 2015 division titles, the Hawkeyes earned a share of the Big Ten title in both 2002 and 2004 and tied for second in 2009. Iowa has finished in the Big Ten’s first division in 19 of the past 21 years.
Iowa was bowl eligible in the final 11 seasons O’Keefe was previously on staff, ranking in the top 10 in the final national rankings on four occasions. Iowa won six bowl games between 2001 and 2010 with O’Keefe on staff.
Senior quarterback Nate Stanley led the Iowa offense in 2019 as the Hawkeyes ranked in the top three in the Big Ten in several offense categories, including first in fewest fumbles and fewest turnovers lost, red zone offense, and fourth down conversions. Stanley is just the second three-year permanent team captain in program history (LB Josey Jewell).
Stanley completed his three-year career with a 27-12 record as the starting quarterback. He ranks second in career passing yards (8,302), passing touchdowns (68), pass completions (673) and pass attempts (1,155), while ranking third in total offense. He is just the second Iowa signal caller to win three bowl games and earned honorable mention All-Big Ten for the second time in his career (2017). Stanley was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Iowa offense in 2018 set a school record for most points scored in road games (42.8). The Hawkeyes averaged 31.2 in all games, the ninth highest single-season total in school history. Stanley led the Iowa offense, passing for 2,852 yards. Stanley threw 26 touchdown passes in both 2017 and 2018, setting a school record for scoring passes over a two-year period.
Iowa’s offense in 2017 was sparked by Stanley, who earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors in his first year as a starter. Stanley passed for 2,437 yards, with 26 touchdowns and just six interceptions. The 26 scoring strikes ranks second best in a single season.
Additional top performing Iowa quarterbacks tutored by O’Keefe include Kyle McCann, Brad Banks, Nathan Chandler, Drew Tate, Ricky Stanzi, and James Vandenberg. Quarterbacks coached by O’Keefe own five of the top 10 single-season passing performances in school history. Stanley (second), Tate (third), Stanzi (fourth), Vandenberg (eighth), McCann (11th) and Banks (13th) rank among Iowa’s career passing leaders.
As a senior in 2001, McCann led the Hawkeyes to their first bowl game under Ferentz, a win over Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. McCann ranked second in the Big Ten in pass efficiency in 2001 while completing 66.3 percent of his attempts and passing for over 2,000 yards in his only season as a starter.
The following season, Banks led the Hawkeyes to a share of the Big Ten title as a senior. Banks placed second in Heisman Trophy balloting, winning the Davey O’Brien Award as the top quarterback in the nation. He was the Associated Press Player of the Year and was named Most Valuable Player in the Big Ten Conference after leading the nation in pass efficiency.
Seven Iowa players were named to the All-Big Ten first offensive unit in 2002. That included players named Offensive Player of the Year (Banks), and Offensive Lineman of the Year (Eric Steinbach). Four offensive players, Banks, Steinbach, tight end Dallas Clark and center Bruce Nelson, earned first-team All-America honors.
Chandler took over for Banks in 2003 and promptly guided the Hawkeyes to a 10-3 overall record, including a win over Florida in the 2004 Outback Bowl. Chandler passed for over 2,000 yards in his only season as a starter.
Tate burst on the scene as a sophomore in 2004, leading Iowa to a share of the Big Ten title. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors while passing for over 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns. Tate is second in career passing yards (8,292), TD passes (61), completions (665), attempts (1,090), and total offense (8,427). He also completed a 56-yard scoring strike on the last play of the game to lead Iowa to a win over LSU in the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
Stanzi set Iowa’s school record for passing efficiency (157.6) in 2010, passing for over 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just six interceptions. He passed for over 2,400 yards in his first full season as a starter in 2009, leading Iowa to a second place finish in the Big Ten and to an Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech.
O’Keefe’s worked with Vandenberg in 2011, who was in his first year as a starter. Vandenberg passed for 3,083 yards and 28 touchdowns, with both totals ranking third-best for a single season in school history.
Offensive linemen Bryan Bulaga and Dace Richardson, along with tight end Tony Moeaki, earned first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2009. Bulaga was named Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year. Bulaga was a first round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, while Moeaki was a third round selection.
Iowa’s offense in 2008 featured the Doak Walker Award winner in running back Shonn Greene. Iowa ranked fourth in the Big Ten in both rushing offense and pass efficiency while averaging over 370 yards total offense per game. The Hawkeyes ranked second in scoring offense (30.3) and first downs, and third in time of possession.
Along with being honored as the top running back in the nation, Greene was named the Big Ten Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Greene (third round), OL Seth Olsen (fourth) and TE Brandon Myers (sixth) were all selected in the 2009 NFL Draft.
From 2004-06 Tate ranked as one of the nation’s top signal callers. He ranks high in the Iowa record book for just about every passing stat. Tate signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams following his Hawkeye career, and enjoyed a lengthy and productive career in the Canadian Football League.
The 2006 Hawkeyes finished second in Big Ten pass offense and third in total offense. Under O’Keefe’s direction, the 2005 Hawkeyes ranked first in the Big Ten in red zone offense and third in passing offense (258.7). In 2004, Iowa ranked second in the Big Ten in passing offense, passing efficiency, and red zone offense, posting a 10-2 record while winning the Big Ten title.
Twenty Hawkeye offensive players under O’Keefe were selected in the NFL Draft. Four of the top seasons in Iowa history, for average passing yards per game, occurred under O’Keefe’s direction.
O’Keefe left Iowa following the 2011 season, joining the Miami Dolphins staff for five seasons. He was named Miami’s wide receivers coach in February, 2012, and served in that role prior to being named senior offensive assistant in 2015. He served as senior football research analyst in 2016.
Under O’Keefe, wide receiver Jarvis Landry set the Miami rookie record with 84 receptions in 2014, the fourth-most by any player in a single season in team history. Landry surpassed that mark with 110 receptions in 2015 and caught more passes (194) than any other player in league history during the first two seasons of their career.
Wide receiver Brian Hartline had the two best seasons of his seven-year career under O’Keefe. Hartline totaled 74 receptions for 1,083 yards in 2012 and added 76 receptions for 1,016 yards and a career-high four touchdowns in 2013.
O’Keefe was the head coach at Fordham University in 1998. He served as head coach at Allegheny College for eight seasons (1990-97). His career head coaching record of 83-17-1 included a 79-10-1 mark at Allegheny, where his team won five North Coast Athletic Conference titles and the 1990 NCAA Division III national title. O’Keefe led Allegheny to four undefeated regular seasons (1990, 1991, 1994 and 1996), and six NCAA playoff appearances. He was named NCAA Division III Coach of the Year in 1990.
In 1985, O’Keefe coached Fort Worth (Texas) Country Day School. From 1978-84, he led Worcester (Mass.) Academy to a 37-11 record and three New England Class A prep championships. O’Keefe started his coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of New Haven from 1976-77.
O’Keefe earned his B.A. degree in history from John Carroll University in 1975, where he played football and baseball. He was a three-year starter at wide receiver while at John Carroll.
O’Keefe was born Aug. 18, 1953, in Milford, Connecticut. He and his wife, Joanne, have two children, Meghan and Brendan.
O’Keefe’s Coaching Career
School/Team – Position, Years
Iowa – Quarterbacks, 2017-21
Miami Dolphins – Senior Football Research Analyst, 2016
Miami Dolphins – Senior Offensive Assistant, 2015
Miami Dolphins – Wide Receivers, 2012-15
Iowa – Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks, 2000-11
Iowa – Offensive Coordinator/Wide Receivers, 1999
Fordham – Head Coach, 1998
Allegheny College – Head Coach, 1990-97
Allegheny College – Offensive Line/Offensive Coordinator, 1986-89
Fort Worth (Texas) Country Day High School – Head Coach, 1985
Worcester (Mass.) Academy – Head Coach, 1978-84
New Haven – Assistant Coach, 1976-77