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Iowa Football: Five Candidates to Replace Brian Ferentz as Offensive Coordinator

With the announcement Brian Ferentz will not be back in 2024, Kirk Ferentz has a decision to make on potential replacements.

Minnesota v Iowa
With Kirk Ferentz now forced to look outside the family tree, where will he turn?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Hawkeye nation was hit with a bombshell on Monday afternoon as interim athletic director Beth Goetz issued a press release indicating that offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz would no longer be with the program after the conclusion of Iowa’s 2023 season. While the younger Ferentz will remain with the team through their bowl game, the drive to 325 no longer has any bearing on his future beyond this season.

In short, head coach Kirk Ferentz will be left to look for a replace for his son as offensive coordinator this offseason. Such a search will mark the fourth time Ferentz has had to do so in his tenure as head coach. Ken O’Keefe joined the staff alongside Ferentz in 1999 and his departure after the 2011 season left Iowa searching. Ferentz came back with former Texas OC Greg Davis, whose style struggled in the framework of the Ferentz philosophy. Four years later, Kirk promoted Brian.

Where will he look now? The gut reaction is to say for someone within the family tree or at the very least within the facility. The answer may differ if his first two hires are any indication.

Regardless, we’ve put together a list of five potential candidates that are at least somewhat realistic. We’ll leave the discussion over who Ferentz should look to hire for the comment section.

Jon Budmayr

No surprises here. Or maybe more accurately, the only surprise here is that Budmayr isn’t already the interim OC.

A former quarterback for Wisconsin, Budmayr joined the Iowa staff in 2022 after spending a season as the offensive coordinator at Colorado State in 2021. That offense ranked 58th nationally in total offense with 412 yards per game and 91st in scoring offense at 23.7 ppg.

Prior to his stint at CSU, Budmayr was a QB coach at his alma mater for three years under former head coach Paul Chryst. He is noted for having originally recruited current Iowa QB Deacon Hill to Wisconsin, as well as building a relationship with both Cade McNamara and his brother Jake, who plays for UTEP, on the recruiting trail. Budmayr was the first coach to offer Cade a scholarship out of high school.

Budmayr is currently the Last year was an analyst for the “ senior special assistant to the head coach” after joining a season ago as an offensive analyst working with the quarterbacks.

George Barnett

Like Budmayr, George Barnett is an in-house option. The current offensive line coach joined the Hawkeyes in 2021. He officially joined via Tulane after being with the school for only a handful of months.

Prior to the short stint at Tulane, Barnett served as co-OC and OL coach at Miami (OH) in 2014-2015 before being promoted to assistant head coach while retaining his co-OC and OL coaching duties from 2016-2020.

Under his watch, the Redhawks annually averaged in the 23-29 point per game area, culminating in the 2020 season where they averaged nearly 400 yards per game and 28.7 points per game.

Prior to joining the staff at Miami, Barnett was the offensive line coach and running game coordinator at Illinois State for four seasons and spent the 2013 season as offensive coordinator.

Tim Polasek

Now that we’ve gotten the internal candidates out of the way, it’s time to take a look at the external candidates who used to be internal. And for that we look no further than the man previously in George Barnett’s role - Tim Polasek.

Polasek is currently the offensive coordinator at the University of Wymoming, where he’s been since leaving Iowa City after the 2020 season. Polasek spent four seasons in Iowa City as the offensive line coach, sliding into that role when Brian Ferentz took the offensive coordinator role from Greg Davis, opening the OL spot.

Prior to coming to Iowa City, Polasek spent three seasons as the offensive coordinator at North Dakota State. He also had a prior stint at NDSU from 2006-2012 serving as running backs coach, tight ends coach and special teams and recruiting coordinator. During his at in Fargo, Polasek won four FCS national titles.

During his three seasons at Wyoming, the Cowboys have averaged 22.9 points per game and 326.5 yards per game.

Josh Davis

OK, time to start getting outside the box just a bit. This one has no direct crossover with time in Iowa City. But Josh Davis does have some loose ties.

Currently the offensive coordinator at South Dakota, Davis works alongside one of Kirk’s other sons as Steve Ferentz has been an outside linebackers coach as USD for the last two seasons. Ferentz and Davis also work alongside former Hawkeye Miles Taylor, who serves as the Coyotes’ defensive passing game coordinator and defensive backs coach, as well as Elijah Hodge, brother of current Iowa tight ends coach Abdul Hodge, who is the inside linebackers coach at USD.

Davis is in his first year as OC at South Dakota and has the Coyotes averaging 333.4 yards and 23.4 points per game. He’s also an up and comer after spending a season as passing game coordinator at South Dakota State in 2022, when the Jackrabbits nearly defeated Iowa inside Kinnick Stadium and averaged nearly 34 points per game. SDSU quarterback Mark Granowski completed more than 65% of his passes that season and threw for nearly 3,000 yards with 26 TDs and only 5 interceptions while the Jackrabbits won the FCS national title.

Prior to his season at South Dakota State, Davis was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at NAIA Northwestern College in..... Orange City, Iowa, for six seasons. In his final season inside the state’s borders, Northwestern advanced to the NAIA national title game.

Before his time as OC, Davis was the wide receivers coach at SDSU from 2009-15 and was a three-time all-conference wide receiver for the Jackrabbits.

Paul Chryst

And finally, a familiar name that’s still a bit outside the box. Former Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst is surely looking to get back into an on-field role after spending this season as an offensive analyst at Texas.

Chryst was, of course, fired at Wisconsin last year after serving as head coach for seven and a half seasons. Prior to being named head coach, Chryst was the Co-OC and tight ends coach for the Badgers in 2005 and offensive coordinator and QBs coach from 2006-2011.

In 2012, Chryst left Madison to become the head coach at Pitt, where he stayed through 2014 and finished with a 19-19 record overall.

Notably, Chryst’s nephew, Keller Chryst, is currently an analyst for the Hawkeyes after spending two seasons in a similar role at Wisconsin.

Who else should Kirk Ferentz be exploring as he looks to replace Brian this offseason? Are there reasonable candidates out there? How about pie in the sky options? Let us know in the comments below.