The Short List: The Position Coaches

Lost in the hullabaloo surrounding the never-ending defensive coordinator search and the departure of Ken O'Keefe are two other openings on the Iowa staff: The defensive line coach spot vacated by Rick Kaczenski and KOK's own quaarterbacks coach spot. As Rick wrote yesterday, all indications are these two spots have been filled internally.

Defensive Line Coach: LeVar Woods

It was widely assumed that, regardless of what happened this offseason, Iowa would find a spot on the staff for administrative assistant LeVar Woods, who has been patiently waiting for a chance at a position coach position since 2008. Woods is a graduate of West Lyon High School in northwest Iowa, and played linebacker for Kirk Ferentz in his first two years at Iowa. After bouncing around the pro ranks for seven seasons, Woods returned to Iowa City to act as a non-coaching assistant, a position in which he has served during the last four years. Woods also runs an offseason football camp in northwest Iowa with other Hawkeyes from the early 2000s like Dallas Clark, Bruce Nelson and Nate Kaeding.

Woods has a story to tell: Despite being self-described as "not the most athletic kid in my class" at a small high school a stone's throw from South Dakota, Woods worked seven hours a day milking cows for a local dairy farmer, using the money earned to pay for speed & acceleration training, eventually earning him a scholarship at Iowa. His energy and work ethic are beyond reproach, his pedigree as a Ferentz player and assistant precisely what is necessary. On top of that, Woods coached defensive line during bowl preparation and has been holding himself out as defensive line coach during his first round of recruiting (the act of recruting itself being a strong indicator of the fact that the job is his). It looks like a fait accompli: LeVar Woods is the defensive line coach, and is a perfect fit for the spot.

Quarterbacks Coach: David Raih

If you don't remember David Raih, don't worry; neither do I. Raih was a walk-on quarterback at Iowa from 1999 to 2002. After shoulder surgery ended his career, Raih acted as a student assistant to Ken O'Keefe in 2003 and 2004. He left Iowa -- and left football -- after receiving his degree, and spent a few years selling medical devices in California (and, by all accounts, doing it well). He left it all behind in 2007. After learning that Rick Neuheisel had been hired at UCLA, Raih loitered around the Bruin football offices until Neuheisel gave him a job as an unpaid intern. Neuheisel thought he'd be gone in a couple of weeks; when he was still there six weeks later, Raih was promoted to offensive assistant, where he learned quarterback coaching from Norm Chow. In 2010, he moved back to Iowa City to take a spot as offensive graduate assistant. If the reports from Junior Day are to be believed, he has been promoted to quarterbacks coach, filling the other role left by Ken O'Keefe.

There are two upshots here. One: Raih has learned from not just KOK, but also one of the most respected offensive minds in college football. The variety of experience, even for only a couple of years, is much-needed in a program where so little outside influence ever gets past the wall of continuity. Two, and more important: Raih's apparent hire means either a further staff shakeup is in the wings, or one of the coordinator hires (likely offensive coordinator) is coming from inside the current staff. Division I football teams are allowed nine coaches; at Iowa, that has broken down as five offensive and four defensive assistants. If Iowa is to hire an outside offensive coordinator, they would have to dedicate a sixth spot to the offensive staff or consolidate two current positions. Given Iowa's recent struggles with a defensive staff stretched to three position coaches due to Norm Parker's health issues, it would appear extremely unlikely that Kirk Ferentz would adopt that emergency scenario as a full-time staff structure. That means the move would have to come from the offensive staff, and would force someone to take on an additional assignment within that staff, whether offensive coordinator or positional. Obviously, this bodes well for the in-house offensive coordinator candidates. It also might lend some credence to rumors of one more coach leaving (although it's late in the cycle for anyone to jump to another college program).

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