IOWA CITY – The only thing missing from Phil Parker’s resume is a mystique.
Saturday, he can begin to build one.
As Iowa’s defensive coordinator, Parker had an entire offseason to prepare for Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch — making the 2:42 p.m. opener a litmus test.
If the Hawkeyes can corral the Huskies’ Heisman Trophy candidate, Parker will get much of the credit. If not, he’ll get the blame.
“Everyone on the defense trusts coach Parker,” linebacker James Morris said. “It’s his defense, and he knows what he’s doing.”
Nobody questions Parker’s qualifications.
He was an all-Big Ten defensive back for Michigan State in the mid-1980s, and a member of coach Kirk Ferentz’s original Iowa staff in 1999, helping to transform walk-ons such as Derek Pagel and Sean Considine into NFL players.
But let’s be honest: You’d feel a lot more confident if it was Norm Parker putting together this afternoon’s game plan.
After all, it was Norm who tripped up Texas Tech in the 2001 Alamo Bowl.
It was Norm who spent time in a hospital, but still kept Iowa within striking distance to win the 2005 Capital One Bowl.
And when it came to Big Ten quarterbacks, Norm was a silver-haired sage, preaching a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy.
Norm brought a mystique to the meeting room, and the Hawkeyes developed a defensive swagger.
“Schematically, we’re pretty much the same,” Morris said. “For the most part, the mindset is still the same.”
Is it fair to compare the Parkers? No. It’s human nature.
Phil Parker replaced Norm last season, and as it turned out, one of Iowa’s best efforts came in an 18-17 win against Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Lynch was making his starting debut, and other than a 73-yard run, his performance was spotty.
How will the rematch play out?
“Honestly, I don’t know,” Morris said. “I’d like to think we have a good chance to win the game, but once we get out there, all bets are off.”
If it comes down to Lynch’s throwing and running vs. Parker’s scheming, I’m going with Phil.
Andrew Logue covers Hawkeye football for the Register. Follow him on Twitter (@AndrewMLogue) from Iowa City on Saturday.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football