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Harty: Coaching changes result of record, not time

[ 0 ] February 22, 2013 |

Kirk Ferentz would like us to believe that all the changes to his coaching staff are simply a common occurrence caused by being in one place for a long time.

“Everyone’s a different story,” Ferentz said Friday at a news conference. “It’s part of it. And you consider the fact we’ve been here now going into our 15th year.

“It’s probably reasonable to think that there is going to be some transition.”

Sorry coach, but I’m not buying it, at least not entirely.

I don’t think Ferentz is telling the whole story behind some of the most recent coaching changes. It’s more complicated than just saying that changes inevitably occur over time.

I also don’t think there would’ve been a press conference on Friday to discuss the three recent additions to his staff if Iowa had finished 8-4 last season instead of 4-8 because there would’ve been no justification for making changes.

My guess is that Erik Campbell and Lester Erb would still be on Ferentz’s staff if Iowa was having more success on the field.

It seems obvious that Campbell and Erb both were encouraged to leave probably because they were told by Ferentz that their contracts wouldn’t be renewed. Why else would Campbell leave a cozy job that pays him more than $200,000 annually to coach for the Montreal Aloulettes in the Canadian Football League? And why would Erb give up a similar-paying job at Iowa that he held for 13 years in order to be unemployed, which appears to be his situation right now?

Ferentz is being evasive about Campbell and Erb probably in order to protect their reputations because some things just don’t need to be aired in public.

A year ago, Ferentz held a press conference to announce the hiring of two new coordinators, including Greg Davis on offense. Ferentz also said other changes would occur in response to Iowa finishing 4-4 in the Big Ten in each of the previous two seasons.

He described it as giving his program a reboot.

Unfortunately, for Ferentz, the reboot only made matters worse with Iowa finishing 2-6 in the Big Ten last season.

Ferentz didn’t call this latest transition anything on Friday besides a common occurrence brought on by time. He refused to call it an extension or a continuation to what happened last season, although, that’s what it appears to be.

“I don’t know if you can put it into one category,” Ferentz said.

Ferentz has had six changes to his coaching staff since late in the 2011 season. And while each case is different, Campbell and Erb’s situations seem strikingly similar.

Somebody has to pay the price for Iowa’s woes on the field, which includes losing 17 of the last 29 games dating back to late in the 2010 season. Campbell and Erb appear to be ones paying for Iowa’s recent skid.

Darrell Wilson also recently left the Iowa staff after 11 years, but his situation is easier to explain because he had a similar job waiting for him at Rutgers, which is located in his home state of New Jersey. It’s also reasonable to think that Wilson might believe he has a better chance of becoming a coordinator at Rutgers compared to Iowa, where two new coordinators were hired within the past year.

Speaking of paying the price, two of Iowa’s three new assistants fall into that category. New defensive assistant Jim Reid was looking for a job after being fired at Virginia, while new receivers coach Bobby Kennedy was available after being let go at Colorado.

Ferentz praised his three new assistants — the latest hire being running backs coach Chris White — for being great fits and for their vast experience, which by my count includes a combined 72 seasons of coaching experience at the collegiate level.

The biggest question, though, is will they be able to recruit at Iowa under the current circumstances? Coaching only goes so far. At some point, talent has to prevail as the 2012 season so painfully demonstrated.

Ferentz said he doesn’t anticipate any more changes to his staff with spring practice scheduled to start in about a month. He believes the right pieces are in place to rebuild the Iowa program for a third time under his watch.

Whether Ferentz still believes that a year from now will depend on what happens this coming fall.

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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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