Continuity Matters, Particularly in College Football

Jan. 31, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa — There are few “sure things” in the revolving door world of college football.

However, one thing that’s maybe as close to a sure thing as it gets is this: A talented young man who chooses to play football while getting his education from the University of Iowa will likely do so under one position coach and one head coach.

The average number of years of service at the UI for the 12 staff positions that report directly to Kirk Ferentz, Iowa’s head football coach, is 9.7 years. That list includes offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe, defensive backs coach Phil Parker, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson, strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, and Rita Foley, the UI’s secretary to the head coach. All five were part of Ferentz’s first staff hired 13 seasons and 10 bowl games ago.

The current staff also includes running backs coach Lester Erb and offensive line coach Reese Morgan – each of whom have been on the staff for the past 12 seasons – and Darrel Wilson, who has been in charge of Iowa’s linebackers and special teams for the past 10 seasons.

“I think it’s good for players to know what they can count on.”
Kirk Ferentz

The “newbies” on Iowa’s staff include Erik Campbell, Iowa’s wide receivers coach for the past four seasons, and LeVar Woods, who was added to the staff on an interim basis in December after the retirement of Norm Parker, the Hawkeyes’ defensive coordinator for the past 13 seasons. Woods was a three-year letterwinner at the UI who played in the NFL for seven seasons before joining the UI staff as an administrative assistant four years ago.

“I think it’s good for players to know what they can count on,” Kirk Ferentz said when asked by a member of the media about the importance of continuity.

Speaking of Ferentz, the Hawkeyes’ head coach is the dean of the Big Ten Conference’s coaches. His 13 years at the UI also ranks fourth best nationally among Football Bowl Subdivision football coaches. Only Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, Larry Blakeney of Troy, and Mack Brown of Texas have been at their schools longer than Ferentz and former Hawkeye Bob Stoops, the head coach at Oklahoma.

It is clear: Continuity is king, particularly in college football. Those who do their homework quickly realize that continuity is one of the keys to success and they need to look no further than the Iowa Hawkeyes, who have had lots of continuity and success dating back more than three decades — under just two head coaches.

Ferentz followed in the footsteps of Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, who was head coach of the Hawkeyes for 20 years. Together, Fry and Ferentz have guided Iowa to 24 of the UI’s 26 bowl games. That list includes five Bowl Championship Series events: 1982 Rose Bowl (Fry), 1986 Rose Bowl (Fry), and 1991 Rose Bowl (Fry), 2003 FedEx Orange Bowl (Ferentz) and 2010 FedEx Orange Bowl (Ferentz).

Fry has seven bowl game victories on his resume; Ferentz is just one behind with six, a total that includes victories over teams from the SEC (LSU, Florida and South Carolina), the Big 12 (Missouri and Texas Tech), and the ACC (Georgia Tech).