Iowa City, Ia. — Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz revealed on Wednesday that defensive coordinator Norm Parker had his right foot amputated two weeks ago, after being hospitalized due to complications from diabetes.
Ferentz remained guarded, however, when it came to discussing who has assumed Parker’s role as the primary play caller for the Hawkeye defense.
“I don’t think it’s that important,” Ferentz said. “I’m not trying to be coy here, but everybody is working together…As you see, Norm’s philosophy is well in place.”
The 68-year-old Parker, in his 12th season at Iowa, is the chief architect of a defense that ranks second nationally in points allowed (10.2 per game) and is fourth in yards allowed (242.2).
He was hospitalized before a Sept. 11 game with Iowa State, but is expected to return sometime this fall.
“He’s been here for so long, it’s been his system,” safety Brett Greenwood said. “He’s implemented what he wants to accomplish and the assistant coaches have gone on and done a great job with it.”
The Hawkeyes, 4-1 and ranked No. 15 in both the Associated Press top 25 and the USA Today coaches poll, have outscored their previous two opponents by a combined 69-3.
But the schedule figures to get tougher – starting with an Oct. 16 visit to Michigan – and Ferentz wants to deflect any potential criticism from his staff.
“The first time we give up a touchdown pass or a long run (people will ask) ‘Who’s calling that defense?’ all that kind of stuff,’’ Ferentz said. “I’ll tell you, none of the guys are getting paid enough to put up with that crap.”
Defensive backs coach Phil Parker (no relation) joined the Hawkeyes in 1999. Linebackers coach Darrell Wilson is in his ninth season. Line coach Rick Kaczenski arrived in 2007.
LeVar Woods, an administrative assistant who lettered as a Hawkeye linebacker from 1998-00, has helped with film breakdown and other duties.
“I think the coaches who are here have done a great job of getting the game plan in,” Greenwood said, “and making sure we’re focused.”
Their next task will be coming up with a way to slow down Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, who leads the nation with 905 rushing yards in five games.
Robinson has also completed 67-of-96 passes for 1,008 yards and seven touchdowns.
“We’re college kids. We watch TV,” Greenwood said of the hype surrounding Robinson. “As a defense, we’re going to have a big challenge on our hands. Not only guarding him, but the rest of their offense.”
Norm Parker was released from the hospital last week, but Ferentz said any thoughts of him being available for the Michigan game would be “ambitious.”
“I think he’s turned the corner mentally,” Ferentz said. “The best I’ve heard his voice was Sunday morning (after a win over Penn State). And he just looked fantastic Monday when I saw him.
“I won’t say we’ve turned the corner or are on a downhill slope, but I think we’re certainly in much better shape than we were a couple weeks ago.”
Parker missed time during the 2004 season because of health reasons, and had previously had toes amputated. Ferentz said there has been no talk of retirement.
“He’s gone through pretty extensive examinations and checks since he was hospitalized,” Ferentz said. “Long story short, they decided the amputation was the best route to go.
“He’s still under doctor’s care, and most importantly is rehabbing.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football