University of Iowa Athletics
Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

Phil Parker

Phil Parker - Football - University of Iowa Athletics


Phil Parker, who served as defensive backs coach at the University of Iowa for 13 seasons, is in his 13th season as defensive coordinator. He returned to coaching Iowa’s defensive secondary in 2013 as well.

Parker was the recipients of both major college football assistant coach of the year awards last season in 2023: Broyles Award and AFCA Assistant Coach of the Year. He was named by in March, 2011, as a first-team member of its College Football Assistant Coach Dream Team.

Parker is the longest tenured defensive coordinator in the nation. He has recruited and coached six Big Ten Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year honorees since 2012: Cooper DeJean (2023), Riley Moss (2021), Amani Hooker (2018), Josh Jackson (2017), Desmond King (2015) and Micah Hyde (2012). Parker has coached 48 players to All-Big Ten recognition a total 62 times, including 19 players to first-team all-conference 29 times.

In 2023, the Hawkeyes won 10 games, including their final four, to capture the Big Ten West Division for the second time in three years. Iowa advanced to another January bowl game (Citrus Bowl) and finished the season ranked No. 24. The Hawkeyes have been ranked in the final AP Top 25 five of the last six seasons.

The Hawkeyes ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense (14.8) and passing efficiency defense (102.1), fifth in passing yards per game (170.7), and seventh in total defense (282.5) in 2023. The Hawkeyes allowed one touchdown or less in 10 games in 2023 and in 19 of the last 27 games. Iowa’s defense has yielded 400 yards or fewer in 28 straight games dating back to the 2021 season — the longest active streak nationally.

Iowa’s defense led the way in 2022, including posting just the second shutout in Iowa’s 35 bowl games. The Hawkeyes won eight games, including five of their final six games. The defense led the nation in with seven defensive touchdowns, including two interception return scores in the bowl win. Iowa’s defense was in the top 12 in the nation in scoring defense (second), total defense (second), pass efficiency defense (fourth), passing yards per game (sixth), first down defense (10th), third down defense (11th) and rushing defense (12th).

Iowa’s streak of 11 straight bowl invitations is the longest in school history and its streak of 11 straight winning seasons ranks seventh best among power conferences. The Hawkeyes have earned 25 conference victories between 2020-23, matching its highest four-year conference win total in program history (1982-85 and 2002-05).

Iowa’s most recent bowl game invitations include the 2024 Citrus Bowl, 2022 Music City Bowl, 2022 Citrus Bowl, 2020 Music City Bowl, 2019 Holiday Bowl, 2019 Outback Bowl, 2017 Outback Bowl, 2017 Pinstripe Bowl, 2016 Rose Bowl Game, 2015 TaxSlayer Bowl and 2014 Outback Bowl.

Iowa has appeared in 13 January bowl games since 2001 and has recorded January bowl wins over Florida (2004 Outback), Louisiana State (2005 Citrus), South Carolina (2009 Outback), Georgia Tech (2010 Orange) and Mississippi State (2019 Outback).

The Hawkeyes won 10 games in 2021, winning the Big Ten West Division title and advancing to the conference championship game. Iowa concluded the season with an appearance in the Citrus Bowl and was ranked 23rd in the final national rankings.

Iowa’s defense set a school record and led the nation with 25 interceptions in 2021. The defense ranked among national leaders in takeaways (30, third), defensive touchdowns scored (four, seventh), pass efficiency defense (110.5, sixth), turnover margin (0.8, 11th), rushing defense (114.4, 13th), scoring defense (19.2, 13th) and total defense (328.8, 18th). Linebacker Jack Campbell led the nation with 143 total tackles.

Following back-to-back narrow losses to open the 2020 season, Iowa won its final six games, all in Big Ten play. 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 final CFP rankings and Coaches Poll, and 16th by the AP. The Hawkeyes were selected to compete in the 2020 Music City Bowl, but that event was canceled.

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 final Associated Press and Coaches polls.

Iowa’s defense in 2020 led the nation in allowing opponents just 4.3 yards per play. The Hawkeyes ranked among the national leaders in several additional categories, including scoring (16.0, 7th), pass efficiency defense (110.1, 9th), rushing defense (107.6, 11th), total defense (313.8, 12th), red zone defense (.727, 12th) and interceptions (11, 19th).

The Hawkeyes concluded the 2019 campaign with a 10-3 record following a 49-24 rout over No. 22 USC in the Holiday Bowl. The three losses were all to ranked opponents by a combined 14 points. Iowa was 4-1 in trophy games for the third straight season.

The 2019 Hawkeye defense ranked among the top 17 in the nation in scoring defense (5th, 14.0), first downs allowed (9th, 16.6), total defense (12th, 308.2), rushing defense (14th, 112.5), turnover margin (14th, 0.7) and pass efficiency defense (17th, 116.0). Iowa tied for second in the nation in interceptions (20) in 2018 after leading the nation in 2017 with 21. Iowa’s 64 thefts over the past four seasons tie for the most in the nation.

Iowa completed 2018 with nine wins and a final AP ranking of No. 25. 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 tied for second in the nation in interceptions (20) in 2018 after leading the nation in 2017 with 21. Iowa’s 89 thefts between 2014-18 led the nation. The 2019 Hawkeye defense ranked among the top 17 nationally in scoring defense (5th, 14.0), first downs allowed (9th, 16.6), total defense (12th, 308.2), rushing defense (14th, 112.5), turnover margin (14th, 0.7) and pass efficiency defense (17th, 116.0).

Iowa, in 2018, ranked seventh nationally in total defense (293.6), eighth in turnovers gained (27), 11th in scoring defense (17.8) and 12th in rushing defense (109.5). Iowa’s defense was second in the Big Ten in red-zone defense and third in total sacks (35).

The Hawkeye defense led the nation with 21 interceptions in 2017, led by Josh Jackson, who led the nation individually with eight interceptions to match Iowa’s single-season record. Iowa ranked 17th in the nation in scoring defense (19.9) and matched a school record with four interception return touchdowns.

Jackson, in his first year as a starter, also led the nation in passes defended, ranked second in interception return yards and return touchdowns, and ranked fourth in pass break-ups. He had two interception returns for touchdowns and tied Iowa’s single-game record with three interceptions in a 55-24 win over third-ranked Ohio State.

The Hawkeyes ranked 13th in the nation in scoring defense and red zone defense, 19th in pass efficiency defense and 23rd in total defense in 2016.

The Hawkeyes posted a perfect 12-0 regular season record in 2015, winning the Big Ten West Division. 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 led the Big Ten and ranked 10th in the nation with 19 interceptions in 2015, with four of those being returned for touchdowns. The Hawkeyes were also among the national leaders in pass break-ups (ninth), turnover margin (11th), turnovers gained (13th) and rushing defense (15th).

Iowa ranked second in the Big Ten and seventh nationally in pass defense in 2014 with a defensive line-up that included three new linebackers and two first-year starters in the secondary.

The Hawkeyes collected eight wins in 2013, including a 5-3 Big Ten record to tie for second in the Legends Division. Iowa earned a spot in the 2014 Outback Bowl behind a defense that ranked among the national leaders in total defense (sixth), first downs allowed (seventh) pass defense (ninth), scoring defense (ninth), pass efficiency defense (17th) and rushing defense (19th).

The defensive secondary played a key role in Iowa’s success in 2010. Iowa was second in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense (115.1) and interceptions (19). Iowa tied for 11th in the nation in interceptions, returning four thefts for touchdowns.

In 2009, Iowa ranked third in the nation in pass efficiency defense and fourth in pass defense, leading the Big Ten in both categories. The Hawkeyes tied for fifth nationally with 21 interceptions while ranking eighth in scoring defense and 10th in total defense.

In 2008, Iowa ranked fourth in the nation while tying a school record with 23 interceptions. The Hawkeyes led the Big Ten and ranked fifth nationally in pass efficiency defense (98.3) and scoring defense (13.0).

Under Parker’s direction, safety Bob Sanders earned second team All-America honors in 2003 and was taken by Indianapolis in the second round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He earned All-Pro recognition with the Colts in 2005 and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He was a key contributor again in 2006 as the Colts won the Super Bowl. He was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 and was again an All-Pro selection.

Parker was the defensive backfield coach at Toledo for 11 seasons prior to joining the Iowa staff. During his tenure at Toledo, Parker coached 10 all-conference selections and helped the Rockets win conference division championships in 1997 and 1998. Three of his Toledo players, Darren Anderson, Clarence Love and Kelly Herndon, went on to play in the NFL. Anderson and Love were NFL Draft selections, while Herndon signed as a free agent and played in the 2006 Super Bowl with Seattle. In 1998, Toledo ranked 19th in the nation in scoring defense.

Toledo won Mid-American Conference championships in 1990 and 1995 and competed in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl. Toledo ranked 12th in the nation in total defense in 1990 and ninth in pass efficiency defense and 11th in rushing defense in 1992. In 1995 Toledo completed an undefeated season and was ranked 22nd in the final UPI poll and 24th in the CNN poll after leading the nation in turnover margin. Toledo also finished second to perennial power Marshall twice when Parker was a member of the Rocket staff.

Parker served as a graduate assistant coach for one year at Michigan State. He was on the Spartan staff in 1987 when MSU won the Big Ten title and defeated Southern California in the 1988 Rose Bowl.

Parker was a standout defensive back at Michigan State, earning first team all-Big Ten honors in 1983, 1984 and 1985. Parker was named defensive MVP at Michigan State in 1983 and 1985 and was invited to the Hula Bowl following his senior season. During his MSU career the Spartans competed in the 1984 Cherry Bowl and the 1985 All-American Bowl. Parker was named Most Valuable Player in the Cherry Bowl.

Parker earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State in 1986.

Parker was born March 13, 1963, in Lorain, Ohio. Phil and his wife, Sandy, have two children, Tyler and Paige.

Parker’s Coaching Career
School – Position, Years
Iowa – Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs, 2013-present
Iowa – Defensive Coordinator, 2012
Iowa – Defensive Backs, 1999-2011
Toledo – DB, 1988-98
Michigan State – Graduate Assistant, 1987