By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Sometimes, it feels good to be wrong.
I was convinced that Michigan offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore would win the Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach because of all the distractions that Michigan has overcome this season.
I assumed that Moore would be rewarded for Michigan winning all six games, including a victory over Ohio State, while head coach Jim Harbaugh served two separate three-game suspensions.
Moore has certainly earned his salary this season for a Michigan team that is undefeated and headed to the college playoff for the third consecutive season.
But a strong case could be made that Phil Parker has performed at even a higher level, and those who pick the Broyles Award winner apparently believe that is the case as Parker was announced as the winner on Tuesday.
Parker is widely recognized as the best defensive coordinator in college football, and what his defense has accomplished this season has added to that reputation.
The final score of Iowa’s 26-0 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game last Saturday is misleading because it would seem to suggest that the Iowa defense struggled when that was hardly the case.
Michigan made four field goals and had two touchdown drives that covered just six and five yards.
The Wolverines finished with just 213 yards against Parker’s defense.
So, perhaps the Broyles Award came down to what happened when Parker and Moore met face-to-race because Parker clearly had the advantage.
Iowa won the Big Ten West Division, and 10 games overall this season, despite having arguably the worst offense in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Only once time this season has Iowa scored more than 30 points in a game, and in six games this season Iowa has scored 15 or fewer points.
That has put tremendous pressure on the defense to perform at a high level, and only once this season against Penn State has Parker’s crew failed to deliver.
Maybe this was a lifetime achievement award in recognition of Parker’s long-time service to Hawkeye football.
Whatever the case, Phil Parker is very deserving of this award.
“Phil Parker is an incredible football coach, and I am extremely pleased that he has been recognized for his career success by the Broyles Committee,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “We simply would not have achieved the success that we have as a program without Phil’s dedication and leadership.
“Since 1999, we have benefited from Phil’s expertise and tenacity.”
One of Parker’s main principles is limiting “explosive” plays. In 2023, the Hawkeyes have allowed just 18 such plays in 13 games.
Iowa also ranks in the top 20 nationally in virtually every defensive category this season, including being fifth in team passing efficiency defense (100.46), 12th in red zone defense (.750), 13th in rushing defense (102.5), 16th in first downs defense (205) and 19th in third-down conversion defense (.316).
The 60-year-old Parker makes over $1 million in annual salary, and he earns every penny of it, and deserves another raise.
Iowa now has to guard against some deep-pocketed program from trying to entice Parker into leaving for a huge contract.
Kirk Ferentz deserves credit for making Parker want to stay at Iowa for the past quarter century.
Parker doesn’t have to deal with Kirk Ferentz looking over his shoulder or second-guessing his decisions.
Parker runs the defense and does so at a level in which he has has few equals.
The Broyles Award goes to the top assistant coach in college football, and right now, that’s Phil Parker.