The Short List: Terry Shea

At most schools, an open coordinator position wouldn't be cause for serious contemplation. Coordinators come and go, in most circumstances. Iowa football isn't most schools, though; the program hasn't hired a new coordinator in thirteen years, and a full-on head coaching search looks to be years away. Offensive Coordinator LET'S TALK ABOUT IT.

Remember 1999, when Kirk Ferentz last hired an offensive coordinator. Denver had just won its second consecutive Super Bowl behind Mike Shanahan's version of the west coast offense, heavy on zone running and short routes, and Ferentz came in promising much of the same. Ken O'Keefe was brought in to implement it, or at least the passing side of it; in the early years with an undersized line, the passing side was the most consistent part of the offense. Ferentz was an offensive line coach at heart, and eventually the line caught up and the running game took over.


Kirk Ferentz can coach an offensive line into shape, and he can teach a halfback to find daylight in the zone scheme. What he has never done, and what he relied completely on Ken O'Keefe to do, is coach quarterbacks. It was this ability, so often ignored by the fans, that made O'Keefe so valuable to Ferentz. It's why we're skeptical of the David Raih rumors: Ferentz needs a plug-and-play quarterbacks coach who can keep churning out signalcallers the way his former coordinator did.

Enter Terry Shea, who was mentioned by Dochterman on this week's On Iowa podcast as a potential coordinator. Shea fits the profile: Two-time former college head coach, former pro offensive coordinator, longtime quarterbacks coach at both levels. Shea's early experience was mostly on the west coast: Oregon graduate and GA, sixteen-year Utah State assistant under four different coaches (including former Walter Camp winner Bruce Snyder), offensive coordinator at San Jose State and Cal, all before 1990. That winter, he was named head coach at San Jose State. He inherited a Spartan team that wasn't as bad as the current incarnation -- they had gone 20-4 and been to consecutive California Bowls over 1986-1987 -- but was one game under .500 in the previous two seasons. Shea immediately got them to 9-2-1, with a win over Stanford, a tie against Louisville, a one-point loss at Cal, and a three-point loss at Washington. The next season, due in large part to a vicious non-conference schedule, SJSU went 6-4-1. In two seasons at the helm, Shea's squads went 13-1 in the Big West, won a conference title and split another. And then he himself split for what, on paper, looked like a great opportunity: Shea became the offensive coordinator and assistant head coach to Bill Walsh at Stanford. In their three years in Palo Alto, Stanford went 17-17-1, and even that belies the real results: After a 10-3 campaign with the senior-laden team left by Dennis Green, the Cardinal went 4-7 and 3-7-1 in the last two years of Walsh's tenure. Scoring wasn't the problem, at least; Stanford averaged 28 ppg during those two unsuccessful seasons.

When Walsh resigned following the 1994 season, Shea spent a year in the CFL before taking the head coach position at Rutgers. His five years there were a mess, even by Rutgers standards: 11-44 overall record, 4-31 record in the Big East, no six-win seasons. The last Rutgers coach to leave with a winning percentage worse than Shea's was Arthur P. Robinson, who gave up after one 0-7 season in 1901. Greg Schiano took over at Rutgers; Shea escaped to the NFL, where he has stayed ever since. From 2001 through 2003, he was quarterbacks coach for Dick Vermeil in Kansas City, tutoring Trent Green; the 2003 Chiefs went 13-3 and made the playoffs. In 2004, he left to run the Bears offense. The Bears proceeded to post the lowest point total of any NFL offense, and Shea was back to Kansas City for another two years as quarterback coach. In 2007, he coached the quarterbacks in Miami. In 2008, he was quarterbacks coach with the St. Louis Rams. Since then, he has run a "quarterback consulting" company that has helped tutor Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, and a bunch of other bros for the NFL.

Schematically, he's KOK on steroids: Pro-style experience (I won't even call it "West Coast" anymore because it's been so completely co-oped by the entire league) from Walsh and Vermeil. As a position coach, you would be hard pressed to find better. As a playcaller, though, there are serious questions: His Stanford teams scored points, but in an era where the Walsh offense was revolutionary. His Rutgers squads struggled mightily, and his Chicago Bears team was staggeringly unproductive. He's also spent three seasons out of actual coaching, and he has no direct ties to Ferentz or anyone else on the staff. If Ferentz is looking for a quarterbacks coach to teach the pro-style system and Shea would be interested, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better candidate. If he's looking for a bona fide offensive coordinator, though, there might well be better options in his current staff.

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