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Iowa Football’s Ken O’Keefe to step down

He will assume an off-the-field role

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 06 Iowa at Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the new Wednesday news dump from your Iowa football Hawkeyes!

That’s right, former offensive coordinator and current QB coach Ken O’Keefe—the man who gave Kirk Ferentz his very first job in football at Worcester Academy way back in 1978—is hanging up his headset.

From Iowa’s Sports Information Department:

University of Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe is stepping away from his on-field role as quarterbacks coach. The announcement was made Wednesday by Moon Family head football coach Kirk Ferentz. O’Keefe will assume an off-the-field role with the Hawkeye football program.

O’Keefe recently finished his 18th season as a member of the Iowa coaching staff. He was a member of Ferentz’s first staff at Iowa, serving as offensive coordinator from 1999-2011, as well as wide receivers coach (1999) and quarterbacks coach (2000-2011). Five of the top 10 single season quarterback performances at Iowa have come under O’Keefe’s leadership.

“My entire family and I are incredibly grateful to coach Ferentz, the players - - especially the quarterbacks I have been privileged to work with - - the staff, the University of Iowa, and the great Hawkeye football fans for all of their support these many years,” said O’Keefe. “When you love what you do, and where you do it, when you love being around the staff and working with tremendous men like I do day-in and day-out, it is hard to walk away. But I am confident that the time is right for me to step off the field and embrace a new opportunity.”

“Ken has been an important part of our football program for almost two decades,” said Ferentz. “He was one of the key components of building our program’s foundation 23 years ago and has been a friend for far longer than that. Ken hired me to be on his staff at Worcester Academy in 1978, and it has been a professional and personal honor to work alongside him all of these years.”

O’Keefe left the Iowa program in 2011 for a coaching position in the NFL. He returned to Iowa City to coach quarterbacks prior to the 2017 season.

“Ken rejoining our program from the NFL was a big bonus,” said Ferentz. “While we will miss having him on the field on Saturdays, we are looking forward to him continuing to share his perspective and knowledge to benefit our entire program.”

The University of Iowa will honor the terms of O’Keefe’s contract.

O’Keefe’s coaching career has spanned 45 years across several levels of football. He was named Division III National Coach of the Year in 1990 after leading Allegheny College to the NCAA Division III National Championship.

“This Hawkeye program is in great shape heading into the future,” said O’Keefe. “I look forward to helping out behind the scenes while also getting to spend some long overdue time with my wife, Joanne, and our family.”

O’Keefe was famously replaced by Greg Davis, with mixed results. He came back to the program from the Dolphins under an assumption he’d hold Brian Ferentz’s hand with the play calling duties. However much the two frolicked with fingers locked is up for debate.

For now, Iowa has a job open on staff. How important that job is, and how creative Iowa could get with filling this slot is also up for debate.

It is worth noting, however, Drew Tate was recently hired to the same role at UNI...

Other candidates include:

  • David Raih
  • Jason Manson
  • Ricky Stanzi
  • Alex Padilla’s QB coach who quote Tweeted Iowa over the season
  • Uncle Rico