March 1, 2012
- Video interview with Coach P. Parker
- 2012 Hawkeye Football Schedule
- 24 Hawkeyes to Watch
- 2012 UI Football Ticket Prices
- Download your Iowa Hawkeye iPhone app!
- Iowa Football Wallpaper
Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Phil Parker is a “Big Ten man.” He was born in Ohio, played football at Michigan State, and for the past 13 years, he served as defensive backs coach at the University of Iowa.
“I have always enjoyed the Big Ten and that’s where I wanted to coach,” said Parker, who on Feb. 7 was elevated to defensive coordinator for the Hawkeyes. He replaces Norm Parker, who announced his retirement Dec. 11.
Parker is also a family man. Despite having opportunities to leave the Hawkeyes for other jobs, he remained in Iowa City with his wife, Sandy, son, Tyler (18), and daughter, Paige (15).
“A lot of the reason I stayed at the University of Iowa for this extended period of time is because of family,” Parker said. “I wanted to make sure my kids would go through one school. There are a lot of coaches who move a lot and uproot their family. I made my decisions based on what was best for my family at the time.”
Tyler is a senior at Iowa City West High School and will attend the University of Iowa next year; Paige is a sophomore at West.
Parker, who turns 49 on March 13, began his coaching career as graduate assistant at his alma mater in 1987. He then accepted a position at Toledo from 1988-98, where he coached 10 all-conference selections and helped the Rockets to back-to-back league championships in 1997 and ’98. Following the 1998 season, Parker attended a coaching convention, and bumped into Norm Parker, who was about to accept an offer from Kirk Ferentz to become Iowa’s defensive coordinator.
“Norm wondered if I would be interested in coaching at Iowa,” Parker said. “I got a call a couple weeks later to come to Iowa City and see if I was interested.”
Once again, Parker reached his verdict because of family; he was also intrigued by the tenure of assistant coaches who worked for Hayden Fry from 1979-98.
“I wondered why coaches stayed here so long,” Parker said. “I thought if there was one place to go that I could stay for a period of time, Iowa would be the right place. This is a great city and my kids will get a great education.”
Since then, Parker tutored the likes of Matt Bowen, Derek Pagel, Sean Considine, Jovon Johnson, Antwan Allen, Marcus Paschal, Charles Godfrey, Bradley Fletcher, Amari Spievey, Tyler Sash, Brett Greenwood, Shaun Prater and Bob Sanders. Parker’s secondaries at the UI were based on a hard-hitting, aggressive style.
“Norm’s been around football a long time, and we’re still going to do the basic fundamental things you do in football. A lot of our ideas are very similar. We’re not making wholesale changes; there might be some adjustments, but we’re going to try to stop the run, play good defense and not give up points. It’s going to come down to guys getting off blocks and making tackles with their effort, toughness and playing smart football. That’s what we believe in.”
UI defensive coordinator
“I coach because I love coaching the kids and making them into better men and better football players,” Parker said.
After coaching defensive backs for 24 years, he was ready for another professional challenge. Now Parker transitions from a specific group of defensive backs to overseeing the entire defense, which he said becomes a broader, management position. He has a bit of coordinator experience as well. When Norm Parker took a medical hiatus during the 2010 season, Phil Parker and Darrell Wilson shared defensive coordinator duties.
“That was a great experience,” Parker said. “It opened my eyes to how much more aware you have to be to the bigger picture on defense.”
Phil Parker has known Norm Parker 28 years and considers him family. He says he will lean on Norm at times for advice as the Hawkeyes prepare for the 2012 season. Parker adds that the defensive philosophy will remain basically the same as when Norm Parker was in charge.
“Norm’s been around football a long time, and we’re still going to do the basic fundamental things you do in football,” Parker said. “A lot of our ideas are very similar. We’re not making wholesale changes; there might be some adjustments, but we’re going to try to stop the run, play good defense and not give up points. It’s going to come down to guys getting off blocks and making tackles with their effort, toughness and playing smart football. That’s what we believe in.”
The elevation of Parker is part of the coaching turnover for the Hawkeyes on the defensive side of the ball. Reese Morgan moves from offensive line to defensive line, Wilson shifts from linebackers to secondary, and LeVar Woods joins the staff with the linebackers.
“I’m looking to get everybody on the same page and put a good product on the field,” Parker said. “We want to make sure our guys play with great effort, great toughness and play smart.”
As far as student-athlete personnel, Parker inherits what he calls a good young team.
“Up front there is a lot of potential with guys like Darian Cooper, Carl Davis and (Dominic) Alvis coming back from injury,” Parker said. “It’s exciting to see what they can do, and they’ve already shown signs that they can do a good job.
“At linebacker, James Morris and (Christian) Kirksey have already played a lot of good football, and (Anthony) Hitchens played well in the bowl game.
“Micah Hyde has been a good player for us in the secondary. B.J. Lowery is a guy who is coming on, and he is going to be a good player. Tanner Miller has a lot of experience, and his growth at free safety is going to be important for us. At strong safety, we have Nico Law, Johnny Lowdermilk and (Colin) Sleeper. There’s a lot of great opportunities for a lot of great people to move forward.”
Parker will gather with media Friday, March 2, at 12:30 p.m. (CT) in the Hayden Fry Football Complex.