Is this the beginning of a Valentine's Day Massacre?
Longtime Iowa defensive assistant Darrell Wilson has left the program for Rutgers, according to a press release from the State University of New Jersey this afternoon:
"It gives me great pleasure to welcome Darrell and his family home," [Rutgers head coach Kyle] Flood said in a statement issued by the school. "Darrell is a proven winner on the field and a proven recruiter in the `state of Rutgers.' He brings more than a decade of Big Ten experience with him but more important than all of that, Darrell is the right person for our program."
Wilson has held a number of jobs since joining the Iowa program in 2002. He spent his early years coaching outside linebackers, and took over the entirety of the linebacker corps once defensive coordinator Norm Parker's health took a turn for the worse. When Norm got really bad and missed most of the 2010 season, Wilson acted as interim co-defensive coordinator with Phil Parker. When Phil became the full-time coordinator last season, Wilson shifted to defensive backs to make room for incoming coach LeVar Woods at linebackers. He also coached special teams with Lester Erb. Wilson is reportedly taking the same job in Piscataway, less the special teams duties. He is a native of Camden, NJ and spent one season as a running backs coach at Rutgers in the late 90s.
Darrell Wilson was known as a solid if unspectacular coach while at Iowa. He produced some of Iowa's finest linebackers under Kirk Ferentz; he got Chad Greenway fully-formed, but built A.J. Edds and Tyler Nielsen from the ground up. However, the defense struggled in his only season as a semi-coordinator, the special teams never met the (admittedly extremely high) standards set by Ferentz's early teams, and the secondary stunk out loud in his only year in charge.
Where Iowa might miss Wilson (and where Rutgers can surely use him) is in recruiting. He initially began as Iowa's top recruiter in New Jersey, and landed players like Albert Young, Shonn Greene, Harold Dalton, Jeremiha Hunter, and Mike Daniels out of the Garden State. Wilson had an abundance of contacts -- he spent six seasons as a high school head coach in New Jersey before entering college coaching -- and an eye for talent in an area of the country not heavily patrolled by the large programs, providing the Hawkeyes with a surefire location for undervalued skill position talent. In 2010, he expanded into Maryland, landing four-star halfback Marcus Coker and a pair of defensive players. In 2011, he hit the motherload in the mid-Atlantic, landing three players out of Maryland, seven players overall, and getting Iowa within a hair of the nation's top offensive tackle, Cyrus Kouandjio. He was named one of the nation's best recruiters after Signing Day 2011, and rightfully so.
WIlson's departure opens up a plethora of possibilities for the Iowa staff. With Jim Reid's name floating around this week, the chances of Phil Parker re-assuming his duties with the secondary, either as coordinator or after handing control over to Reid, becomes a distinct possibility. And odds are that Wilson's not the last assistant out the door this month, according to Ben Ross from the Daily Iowan:
Darrell Wilson has left the Iowa football staff for Rutgers. Sources say Reese Morgan and Lester Erb will be gone within the end of the week— Ben Ross™ (@benEross) February 13, 2013
That comes on the heels of Mas Casa saying that Erb is definitively gone on the Black Heart Gold Podcast last night. Iowa's dispatching with at least three assistants, then, including both special teams coaches. The shakeup is in full swing. The Valentine's Day Massacre may be upon us.
Good luck to Coach Wilson at what is now a metaphysical certainty to become OMHR in the new Big Ten divisional alignment.