By Pat Harty
IOW CITY, Iowa – Kirk Ferentz apparently knows how to keep a secret.
Because nearly three months have passed since Brian Ferentz was fired as the Iowa offensive coordinator, and yet only a few names have surfaced as possible candidates on social media where rumors and speculation are rampant.
Of course, there’s Joe Philbin and Paul Chryst, though, Chryst has reportedly decided to stay in his current job as an offensive advisor for Texas.
There are reports that Chryst turned down a chance to be Iowa’s offensive coordinator, but it’s only rumor and speculation at this point.
Chryst also has been described as the one-time frontrunner for the position, but again, that’s rumor and speculation because Kirk Ferentz hasn’t confirmed it.
Philbin is considered a candidate, but it could just be from his connection to Kirk Ferentz since Philbin coached the Iowa offensive line under Kirk Ferentz from 1999 to 2002 and helped rebuild the program.
Kirk Ferentz also spoke highly of Philbin in December, but that was only because he was asked by the media about Philbin, who currently works as an offensive analyst for Ohio State.
Kirk Ferentz has neither confirmed nor denied that Philbin is a candidate.
Kirk Ferentz hasn’t said anything publicly about his search other than it is ongoing and that he has had some conversations related to it.
The latest name to surface as a possible candidate is former Duke offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Kevin Johns.
But for now, it’s just rumor and speculation.
Johns certainly seems qualified, considering he’s been an offensive coordinator for Memphis, Texas Tech, Western Michigan and Indiana. He also coached for Northwestern from 2004 to 2010 and for Richmond in 2002 and 2003.
Duke combined to average over 400 yards and 32.8 points per game in two seasons with Johns as the offensive coordinator.
Johns, 48, has coached quarterbacks, running backs and receivers, so he obviously has a wealth of knowledge and experience.
Johns lost his job as the Duke offensive coordinator when Mike Elko resigned as the Duke head coach in December to replace Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M.
Elko instead of bringing Johns with him to Texas A&M hired former Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein as his offensive coordinator in late December.
Johns certainly makes a lot more sense than former Nebraska head coach Scott Frost being a possible candidate.
The Frost rumor surfaced early in the search process, but it quickly faded away because it just seemed so silly under the circumstances.
Philbin is also more than qualified, but unlike Johns, Philbin has spent most of the past two decades coaching in the NFL, including being the head coach for the Miami Dolphins from 2012 to 2015 and the interim head coach and offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers in 2018.
Kirk Ferentz is also searching for a new receivers coach and one name that has been mentioned is former Iowa walk-on quarterback David Raih, whose current job is senior offensive analyst for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were eliminated from the playoffs this past weekend.
Raih and Philbin know each other quite well as they were together for four years at Iowa from 1999 to 2022, and for one season with Green Bay in 2018 when Raih coached receivers and Philbin was the offensive coordinator.
It’s easy to picture one, or both, returning to Iowa to fill the two open spots because Kirk Ferentz will ultimately hire who he feels most comfortable working with on a daily basis.
Some fans, and some in the media, are frustrated with how long Kirk Ferentz is taking to hire a new offensive coordinator, and part of the frustration is probably due to so little credible information having been revealed.
But that’s how Kirk Ferentz wants it to be and that is certainly his prerogative.
Kirk Ferentz said in December that his search could stretch into February, so perhaps the search is moving at his desired pace.
If Kirk Ferentz had his way, he wouldn’t be searching for a new offensive coordinator to replace his son.
This might be one of the most important and difficult hires that Kirk Ferentz has made as the Iowa head coach because it’s both personal and professional.
But at some point, probably now sooner than later, Kirk Ferentz will hire his fourth offensive coordinator as the Iowa head coach.
And though his offense has suffered through a stunning decline over the past two seasons, the job still has lot of offer, including most likely a seven-figure salary and a chance to coach for a stable Big Ten program.
It seems unlikely that the new offensive coordinator would be paid as much as Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who recently received a raise to $1.9 annually.
Parker is considered one of the best defensive coordinators in the collegiate ranks and he has been a member of Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa staff since the beginning in 1999.
Parker has paid his dues and has been loyal to Kirk Ferentz, and to Iowa, and Parker is now being rewarded for it.
The person Kirk Ferentz hires to be his next offensive coordinator will also be rewarded with a nice salary, with a chance to coach for a Power Five program and with an expectation in which being just average on offense would be a major improvement.
That’s not a bad gig.