By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Whether you agree with Chuck Long or with Kirk Ferentz about who should coach the Iowa quarterbacks, both sides ultimately want the same thing.
Both sides want Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz to meet the challenge that his father has bestowed upon him as Iowa’s new quarterback coach.
Both sides want Iowa’s sputtering offense to at least be average with Brian Ferentz running the show, because considering how strong Iowa usually is on defense, and on special teams, just having an average offense might lift the team to another level.
Both sides want whoever starts at quarterback to thrive and to perform at an All-Big Ten level, and to complete at least 60 percent of his passes, which hasn’t happened since the 2015 season with C.J. Beathard.
Both sides just want success on offense.
They just disagree on the best way to achieve it.
Former Iowa All-America quarterback Chuck Long said Wednesday on the Hawk Fanatic radio show and podcast that he feels Kirk Ferentz missed an opportunity by not hiring an experienced quarterback coach to replace Ken O’Keefe, who had coached the quarterbacks since 2017.
Kirk Ferentz said Wednesday that the decision to switch Brian Ferentz from coaching tight ends to coaching quarterbacks made perfect sense.
The problem is that what makes perfect sense to Kirk Ferentz in this case makes no sense to Chuck Long, and to numerous Iowa fans who also have questioned the decision to make Brian Ferentz the quarterback coach under the circumstances.
“I thought it was a missed opportunity for Kirk and Iowa football, I really did,” said Long, who was a four-year starter at quarterback for Iowa and the Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1985. “Quarterback coaching is such a different animal. I was in it for 20 years. I don’t know anybody with an offensive-line background that has gone on to coach quarterbacks. It’s just different than everything else.”
This debate will eventually be settled on the field over time, but for now, both sides will have to agree to disagree.
But it would be hard to find one true and loyal Hawkeye fan, including Chuck Long, that wants Brian Ferentz to fail because if that happens, the team is likely to suffer from it.
Chuck Long is a loyal Hawkeye supporter, and he wants what is best for the program that helped to change the course of his life.
Just because Chuck Long disagrees with Kirk Ferentz’s decision to make Brian Ferentz the quarterback coach doesn’t mean that Long, or anybody else who shares Long’s opinion, wants Brian Ferentz to fail.
Chuck Long cares deeply about Iowa football, enough that he was willing to speak publicly about his concerns.
Somewhat lost in all the attention focused on Brian Ferentz is that Kirk Ferentz did confirm that former Wisconsin quarterback Jon Budmayr has joined the Iowa staff as an offensive analyst.
Budmayr was the offensive coordinator at Colorado State last season after having coached the quarterbacks at Wisconsin from 2018 to 2020.
So, he sort of does fit what Chuck Long was hoping Iowa would do in hiring a new quarterback coach.
But the 31-year old Budmayr isn’t the quarterback coach. He’s only an analyst.
And for how long?
It’s hard to know right now how much impact Budmayr will have on the 39-year old Brian Ferentz, who is former Iowa offensive lineman.
Kirk Ferentz tried to downplay the concerns about Brian Ferentz’s lack of experience with coaching quarterbacks while addressing the media on Wednesday, saying that football isn’t as complex as some of the so-called experts make it out to be.
And while that might be the case, if true, then why has Iowa struggled so much on offense with Brian Ferentz as the coordinator if it’s so simple?
Iowa was ranked 121st in the nation in total offense last season, and that was with Ken O’Keefe coaching the quarterbacks.
O’Keefe’s recent departure leaves Iowa without by far its most experienced quarterback coach.
So, it’s only natural to worry that Iowa will struggle even more without O’Keefe helping to guide Brian Ferentz.
But to worry that something bad might happen is different than wanting it to happen.
You can guarantee that if the Iowa offense suddenly starts performing at an acceptable level, and if the quarterbacks start performing at an acceptable level, that Chuck Long and the other doubters will be happy to say that Kirk Ferentz made the right call.