Iowa running backs coach Lester Erb is leaving the Hawkeyes program for other opportunities, the team announced this afternoon. The announcement ends a 13-year stint with the Hawkeyes; Erb was hired to Kirk Ferentz's staff in 2000 as wide receivers coach, and moved to running backs coach in 2008. Erb also coached special teams throughout his time in Iowa City. He coached such unheralded players as Shonn Greene, Adam Robinson, and Mark Weisman into starting roles, and Greene won the Doak Walker Award in Erb's first season coaching the backs. There is, of course, that one stupifying Erb statistic: In five years as running backs coach, not one Iowa scholarship halfback graduated. That factoid, coupled with lackluster special teams play, made Erb a frequent target for fans' frustration.
Much like with Campbell, Erb's departure was likely preordained when Iowa hired Greg Davis as offensive coordinator last February. While Campbell's resume made him a likely candidate, Erb's long tenure with Ferentz -- not only had he spent 12 years at Iowa, but Erb had been an assistant under Ferentz in Baltimore in 1997-98 -- should have gotten him in the conversation. As far as we know, that never happened.
Whether the Hawkeyes will miss Erb on the practice field is up for question, but Iowa is certain to miss Erb on the recruiting trail. Erb was responsible for recruiting Illinois, and it was his work that landed the bulk of Iowa's much-ballyhooed 2005 class, including five-star offensive tackle Dan Doering and four four-star commitments. The 2005 Illinois haul earned him recognition as one of the nation's top 25 recruiters, an accolade he earned again in 2011. Erb's hard work made Illinois one of Iowa's most fertile recruiting areas year-in, year-out.
Erb was frequently -- and, let's face it, mostly unfairly -- blamed for the off-field problems of his players, but his star-crossed tenure lent itself to gallows humor. With his head hitting a relatively low glass ceiling after 13 seasons, it was probably time for both sides to walk away. We wish him the best of luck wherever he lands.