Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz is taking the same job on Bill O'Brien's staff with the Houston Texans, according to the NFL Network's Gil Brandt.
Have ben told Bill O'Brien will hire Brian Ferentz as his OL coach w #Texans. Son of Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz. Good choice.— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) January 6, 2014
Rumors of Ferentz's departure began surfacing over the weekend, and Football Scoop reported that the parties were close to a deal Saturday.
Ferentz spent the last two years with the Hawkeyes, taking the job after former offensive line coach Reese Morgan moved to defensive line. He previously worked with O'Brien on the staff of the New England Patriots; O'Brien was offensive coordinator, while Ferentz coached tight ends.
For the third consecutive offseason, Iowa will be filling an assistant spot, a traumatic experience for a program that had previously gone five years without losing an assistant. Fortunately, the opening comes in a spot where Kirk Ferentz should have plenty of options. Former offensive line coach Reese Morgan is still with the program, but has been so successful with a young defensive line over the last two years that Ferentz might want to leave him there. Ferentz also has extensive background as an offensive line coach and the connections that come along with it.
Ferentz could also go to the same well that he visited when hiring the younger Ferentz and former Hawkeye LeVar Woods. A.J. Blazek, who played center for Ferentz early in his tenure at Iowa and spent 2001-04 as an Iowa assistant, has built a career as a successful offensive line coach at Winona State (Minn.) and Western Illinois. He reportedly interviewed for the job before Brian Ferentz was hired in 2012.
As for recruiting, Brian had focused on Ohio and received positive reviews, despite the fact that Iowa has not landed as many recruits as usual from the Buckeye State in the last two years (those decreases are in no small part due to improved recruiting in Texas and the mid-Atlantic). Iowa has deployed Chris White in Ohio strategically, and co-linebackers coach Jim Reid has recruited Illinois despite no longstanding ties to the area and could move east if needed. A dedicated coach with established ties to a high-population state, especially Illinois or Ohio, would be of great benefit.
On Brian's end, the move makes a ton of sense. No matter what he did at Iowa, and no matter how many times he and his dad denied it, he would be seen by many fans as the head coach's son and hand-picked successor. Turning down an obvious promotion to the NFL coaching ranks would only solidify the belief that Kirk was clearing the field for his son. Brian gets the opportunity to better learn his craft in a job that could set up a head coaching position (his dad parlayed NFL offensive line coach into the Iowa gig 15 years ago), and he doesn't look like the crown prince while waiting for the job to open up. If he does well in Houston and gets into the mix for Iowa when his dad hangs up his whistle, it will be on the merits. That's best for everyone involved.