By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – For just the third time since social media became part of mainstream society, Kirk Ferentz is searching for a new offensive coordinator.
And if we’re to believe what’s been said on social media, and on internet message boards, about the search, Kirk Ferentz is reportedly considering some surprising candidates.
Like for example, former Nebraska head coach Scott Frost.
I’m certainly not reporting that Frost is being considered, but it’s out there and that’s all it takes for some to consider it a hot take in this age of social media where pushing your brand is so important to some.
Frost makes little to no sense, because for one, his relationship with Kirk Ferentz doesn’t appear to be very strong, and two, his belief in how an offense should operate has little in common with Kirk Ferentz’s belief.
Kirk Ferentz will ultimately hire somebody who he is comfortable with from a personal and from a coaching standpoint.
Two names being mentioned that make way more sense than Frost are former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who is currently an advisor with Texas, and former Iowa offensive line coach Joe Philbin., who is currently an offensive analyst for Ohio State.
I’ve been told that Kirk Ferentz has reached out to both about the job, but I can’t say that with absolute certainty because Kirk Ferentz isn’t the one who told me.
I doubt that Kirk Ferentz is talking with anyone from the media about his search.
And why should he?
Chryst makes sense because he is obviously qualified as the former Badger head coach and offensive coordinator, and because he and Kirk Ferentz have a mutual respect and share similar beliefs about how an offense should operate.
Chryst also has a nephew, Keller Chryst, who is in his first year as a football analyst for the Hawkeyes.
Philbin makes sense because he is also more than qualified for this job after having coached at the collegiate level from 1984 to 2002, and after having coached in the NFL from 2003 to 2022.
Philbin was the offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers from 2007 to 2011; the Miami Dolphins head coach from 2012 to 2015; the assistant head coach and offensive line coach for the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 to 2017; the offensive coordinator and interim head coach for the Green Bay Packers in 2018; and the offensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2018 to 2022.
The 61-year-old Philbin was also an original member of Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa coaching staff, serving as offensive line coach from 1999 to 2002.
Philbin helped lead the rebuild under Kirk Ferentz and did so by building a rock-solid solid offensive line that featured standouts such as Eric Steinbach and Robert Gallery.
Philbin obviously has the trust and respect of Kirk Ferentz, or Kirk Ferentz wouldn’t have hired him.
It’s reasonable to assume that Philbin also has a firm grasp of Kirk Ferentz’s offense since little has changed on offense over the past quarter century.
To bring back somebody Kirk Ferentz knows personally also might make it easier for Kirk Ferentz to move on without his son, Brian Ferentz, who has been the offensive coordinator since 2017.
This can’t be an easy hire for Kirk Ferentz from a personal standpoint since he is having to replace his son, who will be terminated once the season ends.
Jon Budmayr, a former Wisconsin quarterback and assistant coach, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate and that is probably due mostly to him being a current member of the staff. Budmayr’s current title is special assistant to the head coach.
Budmayr’s problem is that the offense has mostly been a horrendous since he joined the staff.
It’s hard to believe that Kirk Ferentz would hire somebody whose offensive philosophies are different than his.
Iowa has had three different offensive coordinators under Kirk Ferentz, starting with Ken O’Keefe, who held the job from 1999 to 2011. He was followed by Greg Davis, who held the job from 2012 to 2016 before being replaced by Brian Ferentz.
The offense has changed very little under three different coordinators because it’s Kirk Ferentz’s offense and always has been.
Kirk Ferentz believes that an offense should run a certain way, and even though the Iowa offense has had a stunning decline over the past two seasons, it’s hard to see Kirk Ferentz making dramatic changes on offense at this stage in his career.
Kirk Ferentz still believes that fixing the offense comes down to doing what they do better on offense.
And he will ultimately hire somebody who is willing to share that belief.