Phil Parker Named AFCA Assistant Coach Of The Year

IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa defensive coordinator and secondary coach Phil Parker has been named the recipient of the 2023 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Assistant FBS Coach of the Year Award. The announcement was made on Friday by the AFCA.

Parker was selected by the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year Committee from a total of 98 nominees. Earlier this month, Parker was presented the Broyles Award by the Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation. The Broyles Award is presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football.

The Assistant Coach of the Year award was first presented in 1997 and was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.

Parker joins Norm Parker (2013) and Ron Aiken (2002) as Hawkeye assistant coaches who have earned the AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year.

Parker, who is in his 25th season on Iowa’s coaching staff (12th as defensive coordinator), has been the mastermind behind one of the nation’s top defenses in 2023. The Hawkeyes have allowed just 15 touchdowns in 13 games (tied for the third fewest in the NCAA) and the unit ranks fourth nationally, giving up 13.2 points per game.

The point per game average is the lowest by a Hawkeye defense since 2008.

The Hawkeyes have given up one touchdown or less in 10 of 13 games this season and the unit is ranked fifth nationally in total defense (274.8) for a sixth straight year. Iowa’s defense has allowed 400 yards or fewer in 27 straight games dating back to the 2021 season — the longest active streak nationally.

One of Parker’s main principles is limiting “explosive” plays. In 2023, the Hawkeyes have allowed just 18 such plays in 13 games.

Across the board, Iowa ranks in the top 20 nationally in virtually every defensive category this season, including being fifth in team passing efficiency defense (100.46), 12th in red zone defense (.750), 13th in rushing defense (102.5), 16th in first downs defense (205) and 19th in third-down conversion defense (.316).

Under Parker’s tutelage, three defensive players — DB Cooper DeJean, DB Sebastian Castro and LB Jay Higgins — earned All-America recognition. DeJean is a unanimous consensus All-American and was a finalist for the Nagurski Award and Thorpe Award. Higgins is a second-team All-American and was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, while Castro is a third-team All-American.

DeJean was also named the recipient of the 2023 Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, becoming the sixth Hawkeye to be voted the top defensive back in the conference under Parker’s watch.

The No. 17 Hawkeyes will play No. 21 Tennessee on Jan. 1, 2024, in the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. The game will start at 12:06 (CT) and will be televised on ABC.

SEBASTIAN CASTRO: Pro Football Focus (first-team All-America); Associated Press (third-team All-America)
COOPER DEJEAN: Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, Sporting News, The Athletic, Sports Illustrated, CBS (first-team All-America)
JAY HIGGINS: FWAA, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Associated Press, Walter Camp, Sporting News, CBS (second-team All-America)
PHIL PARKER: Broyles Award, AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year (FBS)
TORY TAYLOR: Walter Camp, FWAA, Associated Press, Sporting News, The Athletic, CBS, Pro Football Focus, Sports Illustrated (first-team All-America); Ray Guy Punter of the Year Award