Dec. 16, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — When it’s time, it’s time. University of Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker knew his next move.
Parker, the UI’s defensive coordinator for the past 13 seasons, will close his Hawkeye career at the 2011 Insight Bowl against Oklahoma on Dec. 30 in Tempe, Ariz. It will conclude a 47-year coaching reign.
“I have always said, I never want to coach just to have a job,” said Parker at a press conference Friday in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “When you can’t do it and do it right, do it the way it should be done, then it’s time to let somebody else do it.
“In all fairness to the team, the players, the other coaches, myself, it’s time to get out. It’s time to go bounce some grandkids around on your knee.”
Parker, 70, said it was a personal battle he had with himself in wanting to return to the field in 2011 after having his leg amputated because of diabetes.
“Personally, it was important to prove that you could do it,” he said. “The leg ran me off; I didn’t want that to happen.
“I have always said, I never want to coach just to have a job. When you can’t do it and do it right, do it the way it should be done, then it’s time to let somebody else do it. In all fairness to the team, the players, the other coaches, myself, it’s time to get out. It’s time to go bounce some grandkids around on your knee.”
UI defensive coordinator Norm Parker
“I can remember when I was a little kid, we used to put a rock in your shoe, you would walk around all day with a stone in your shoe to see if you could do it. It hurt like hell, but you didn’t want to take it out, just to prove that you could do it.”
Since announcing his retirement Dec. 11, Parker has been inundated with calls from former players sending their well wishes.
“They’ve said nice things. Not many guys are going to call you and say, `It’s about time you quit,’ said Parker with a laugh. “They’ve said nice things.”
Parker says student-athletes today are the same as when he began coaching in 1965. Two of his former linebackers — Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway — taught him much.
“Here you have the pig farmer from South Dakota (Greenway) and the kid from the inner city of Miami (Hodge). They were so tight, it was unbelievable,” said Parker.
“The beauty of it was, when Abdul looked at Greenway, he didn’t see a white guy… he saw his buddy. When Greenway looked at Abdul, he didn’t see a black guy… he saw his buddy. That’s what they looked at, what they saw when they looked at each other. To me, it was a teaching thing to watch those two guys interact.”
“You have that core of your team and then the outsiders come in, and they have to join that team,” said Parker. “The core of it is made up of King, Angerer and Considine — those type of guys — then anybody that comes in has to join that core. If you do that, you have enough guys doing that, then you have a halfway decent defense.”
When next season rolls around, Parker hopes to find his way to the Hayden Fry Football Complex in one way or another.
“I’ll have a hard time sitting at home, I know that,” he said. “I like being around. I like being around the guys, being around the players. It’s the fun of it.
“I’m 70 years old, and I’ve never really gone to work a day in my life. I’ve never felt like `Oh, I’ve got to go to work today.’ So I guess that’s good.”
When asked what advice he would give to his future replacement, Norm replied in typical fashion.
“It’d tell them it’s a great job and good luck,” he said. “And don’t drive too fast down Melrose; you’ll get a speeding ticket. That guy out there will get you.”