After a seven-week search, Iowa has finally filled the assistant spot previously held by Eric Johnson: Seth Wallace, a former Iowa graduate assistant who was until yesterday the defensive coordinator at Valdosta State, has been named as the new Iowa recruiting coordinator and defensive assistant coach.
"We are excited to have Seth return to Iowa," said Ferentz. "Seth did a tremendous job here as a graduate assistant and has distinguished himself serving in several roles at Valdosta State. Seth is an excellent teacher, highly organized, knowledgeable and is an outstanding person. We are thrilled to welcome Seth and Erica back to Iowa."
"My wife and I, along with our son Landry, are excited to be rejoining the Iowa football family," said Wallace. "Coach Ferentz, coach Norm Parker and coach Phil Parker provided a wonderful opportunity for me in 2006 when I began my graduate assistantship with the Iowa football program. I am thankful to coach Ferentz for the opportunity to return, and I look forward to working alongside the coaching staff in the future."
Wallace has already switched over his Twitter account to an Iowa theme and moved his listed location to Iowa City, so we know he's hitting the ground running.
Wallace is a graduate of Grinnell High School and Coe College, and joined Iowa's staff as a graduate assistant in 2007. He spent three seasons coaching defensive backs under the tutelage of now-defensive coordinator Phil Parker, graduated with a Master's Degree, then joined the staff at Division II powerhouse Valdosta State as defensive backs coach. Wallace spent the next five seasons with the Blazers, becoming co-coordinator in 2011 and sole defensive coordinator last year.
Ferentz hasn't announced his intentions for Wallace beyond recruiting coordinator and assistant coach, but the new member of the staff could easily fill either of two roles. Wallace has some background on the defensive line, and could step directly into the recruiting coordinator/defensive line role that Johnson previously held.
But Wallace's real area of expertise is the defensive backfield, a spot that has become a coaching conundrum for Iowa since Norm Parker's retirement. From 1999 through 2011, Phil Parker was Iowa's secondary coach, and a damn good one. When Phil moved to defensive coordinator in 2012, linebackers coach Darrell Wilson moved to defensive backs. It was a disaster, so bad that Wilson was shuffled off to Rutgers after the season ended. Parker spent 2013 doing double duty, coaching Iowa's secondary while organizing the defense. Iowa's secondary -- and Iowa's defense in general -- returned to form, but Parker's role as the sole secondary coach and coordinator is untenable. If he can split position coaching duties with Wallace, a guy who learned the position from him and knows how he wants his defensive backs coached, while each handles another significant part of the program, Iowa can lighten the load on both and bolster the defense at the same time.
Johnson's late defection left Iowa in a horrible circumstance. Aside from late-filling graduate assistant spots, the coaching carousel had ground to a halt by the time Johnson announced his newfound love of cheeseburgers, and the chances of getting an FBS coach to defect at that late date to join the Iowa program was always unlikely. Wallace's skill set and experience under Ferentz and Parker make him as ideal a pick as Iowa could imagine as a coach. His experience recruiting Georgia and Florida can open a new corridor that the Hawkeyes have been targeting in recent cycles. Iowa isn't going to get far with the sort of player that Valdosta State was recruiting, but if Wallace can bring the contacts he's established in the Southeast to Iowa City, he's worth the wait.