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Harty: Parker in it for the long haul

[ 0 ] October 6, 2010 |

Cautiously optimistic would be the best way to describe Kirk Ferentz’s mood as he updated the media on Norm Parker’s medical situation.

Those assuming that Parker would retire after the season or even before it ends because of his ongoing battle with the effects of diabetes apparently are mistaken based on what Ferentz said Wednesday.

Ferentz said Parker is in it for the long haul, meaning it’ll take more than having his right foot amputated for Parker to give up being the defensive coordinator for the Iowa football team.

Parker’s situation appears to be a case where something has to get worse before it gets better.

You just hope that losing his right foot was the worse part and now comes the better part.

If Parker ever needs cheering up, he should remind himself how lucky he is to have a job that he cherishes and co-workers and players that cherish him.

He should remind himself that he works for a coach who holds him in the highest regard.

And he should remind himself that he does his job quite well.

It’s always neat to hear Ferentz talk about Parker because you can sense the respect and admiration that Ferentz has for him as a person and a coach.

Parker has worked wonders with the Iowa defense and made it one less thing for Ferentz to have to worry about.

There is no need for Ferentz to micro-manage with Parker calling the shots on defense.

Some of the media seems fixated on the fact that Parker might have to spend the rest of his coaching days coaching from the press box during games.

Ferentz, on the other hand, seems amused by our fixation.

“I don’t care if he coaches on top of the press box,” Ferentz said. “I know this: this guy has got a lot of wisdom, he’s totally invested. He’s really loved and respected by everybody here, and it’s going to be a good thing when we get him back.”

One way to tell how good Parker is at his job is the fact that the Iowa defense has for the most part continued to operate smoothly in his absence. There were some breakdowns during the 34-27 loss at Arizona on Sept. 18, but that’s about it.

Iowa’s other four opponents have been held to seven or fewer points, highlighted by last Saturday’s 24-3 victory over Penn State.

One sign of a good leader is when the followers continue to perform their duties without the leader being present.

It, obviously, would help having Parker back in time for Iowa’s next game against Michigan and its electrifying quarterback, Denard Robinson.

But even if Parker at the game Oct. 16 in Ann Arbor, Mich., his influence and his spirit will be.

And who knows, his absence could give the Iowa players extra incentive to make their leader proud.

One of the best things about the Iowa coaching staff is that most of the assistants have worked here for quite a while.

Parker and offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe have been with Ferentz since he took over at Iowa before the 1999 season. So have defensive backs coach Phil Parker, tight end coach Eric Johnson and strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

The three defensive assistants have worked under Parker at Iowa for a combined 27 seasons.

Having stability makes it easier to handle adversity.

And in Iowa’s case, Norm Parker is part of that stability. That’s true even when he’s absent, which, hopefully, won’t be much longer.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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