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Greg Davis Sues Kirk Ferentz For Control of Iowa Hawkeyes Offense

Greg Davis files lawsuit to assume control of Iowa's offensive identity.

Greg Davis bites tongue.
Greg Davis bites tongue.

NOTE: If you couldn't tell, this is written in jest.  Greg Davis did not really sue his boss in the 712th Nonjudicial District Court.

In a case that could lead to a major shift in power among college football coaching staffs everywhere, as well as a legal embarrassment for Kirk Ferentz, Iowa Hawkeyes offensive coordinator Greg Davis has filed a lawsuit in Iowa state court against Kirk Ferentz for legal control of the Iowa Hawkeyes football offense. The plaintiff cited broken promises and pain and suffering as well as a "ridiculous and persistent philosophy and culture of chivalry" created by head coach Kirk Ferentz, among other complaints in the suit.

In the suit Greg Davis claims the control of the offense he was promised by head coach Kirk Ferentz never materialized and instead he was nothing more than a "puppet," hired to serve as a buffer to criticism and to make Ferentz look as if he cared about scoring points. "When Kirk hired me I had run three of the most dynamic offenses in college football history, with two different quarterbacks. Kirk knew I could light it up if given the time, autonomy and, of course, a ton of elite 5-star players."

As a result, said Davis, the last three years has caused enormous pain and suffering for him and Iowa fans and he is now demanding absolute control of the Iowa offense for the 2015 season. Davis claims the offense he has been forced to administer is "nothing like the offense [he] was brought in to run" upon his hiring in February 2012. In his filing to the court Davis claimed Ferentz asked him to develop a "high flying" offense that was to be "vertical, horizontal and diagonal" using concepts of "deception" and "misdirection" as well as "originality" and "wide receivers," but instead, his suit claims, he has been forced by Kirk Ferentz to supervise an offense that is predicated on "predictability, obviousness, and leveraging walk-on offensive tackles."


Ferentz's attorney has called the claims preposterous. Said Ferentz attorney Lew Pole, "Just go ask Kirk's previous offensive coordinator, Ken O'Keefe. He'll tell you that Kirk would never make promises of full or even partial control, nor would he ever in a thousand years use the words ‘high flying' in describing his idea of offensive football." O'Keefe confirmed he never had control of anything other than Iowa's offensive failures. "In reality, that was my job: to be the part-time face of the offense." said O'Keefe in between practices in Miami, Florida with the Miami Dolphins, where he now serves as an assistant coach.

"Kirk was very up front with me from day one that victories were team victories, and I was merely part of a cooperative, playing my small role in coaching the team to that victory. I think his exact words were, ‘You're just a cog in the wheel.' Except when we lost, then he called me ‘the wheel,' and usually in the locker room in front of the players right after the game." When asked to for examples O'Keefe cited Ferentz's postgame speech in 2009 when the Hawkeyes lost in overtime against Ohio State. "Kirk walked into the locker room, and he sensed right away the players were really upset that we had quit playing to win, and he said, ‘Boys, I don't know what to say, other than this was probably the right thing to do. They say losing builds character and you'll all look back on this game one day and thank Kenny.' Then all the players rushed over in my direction and tried to urinate on me."

In his lawsuit Davis also highlighted Ferentz's unusual attitude toward winning in general. Davis detailed several discussions with Ferentz that suggested a motive for why Ferentz reneged on his promise of control. "After about two months I had put together the new playbook and gave it to Coach Ferentz. Then the very first week of practice he told me to take out about 80 of the 95 or so plays and to whittle down the number of formations from 20 to ‘a handful or less.' Of course when I asked why I was told by Kirk that as one of the elder statesmen of college football he did not want to embarrass other coaches or appear to be uppity, and that he wanted to set a standard of civility and deference within the Big Ten and even throughout college football. When he told me that I thought, ‘Sheesh, this guy's crazier than John L. Smith.'"

When asked for his reaction to the lawsuit, Iowa Athletic Director Gary Barta demurred, "I support Kirk until it no longer is in my best interests to support Kirk. But, I will say this about Coach Davis. Actually, I won't."


Ferentz's attorney said the Iowa coach is reluctantly considering a countersuit, but is in the process of trying to figure out what the basis for it would be. "If I had to guess, I would say Kirk will file a counterclaim against Coach Davis for the wrongful death of the Iowa running game. That will be tricky because we would have to first prove to the court it existed in the first place. But Kirk's a man of humility, so this is very difficult for him. He just plain doesn't like to beat people. He hates that this lawsuit will likely have a winner, and so the whole thing makes him feel yucky. He's hoping the suit is thrown out on a technicality so he and Greg can get back to the work they both love and are so good at."