During his Signing Day press conference a week ago, Kirk Ferentz stated that there wouldn't be any coaching changes (in terms of departures and arrivals) but that there might be some changes in coaching responsibilities for the members of the staff. Today we found out what those changes would look like.
BRIAN FERENTZ: remains Offensive Line coach, adds "Run Game Coordinator" responsibilities
LEVAR WOODS: was Linebackers coach (primarily OLB), now Tight Ends coach
SETH WALLACE: remains Recruiting Coordinator, goes from Defensive Line assistant to Cornerback/Nickel back assistant
Tight end coaching was primarily handled by offensive graduate assistant D.J. Hernandez the last two seasons, but Hernandez's tenure as graduate assistant appears to have run out, so Iowa was in need of someone else to coach the right ends. Iowa already has a defensive graduate assistant. (As Marc Morehouse noted at The Gazette, Iowa may be turning over several of its graduate assistant positions this season.) Woods' move to the offensive side of the ball means that Jim Reid will be taking over all of the linebacker coaching; he previously worked primarily with the inside linebackers. Reid has extensive experience coaching linebackers, so Iowa should be in good shape there. Woods has much less experience coaching tight ends, so there could be a bit of learning curve there. Wallace will continue as Recruiting Coordinator, while his work with the defensive backs is likely meant to free up Phil Parker to focus more on his defensive coordinator duties.
But the move that will generate the most attention is certainly Brian Ferentz taking over as "Run Game Coordinator." What is a "Run Game Coordinator"?
Run-game coordinator is basically what it sounds like: guy who is responsible for run game design/implementation front-to-back— Hawkeye Gamefilm (@hawkeyegamefilm) February 12, 2015
As Morehouse said, it (probably) doesn't mean that he'll be calling plays or share play-calling duties with Greg Davis. As for what it means beyond that... well, we'll have to wait to see if Kirk Ferentz makes any comments explaining his vision for the position (perhaps during one of the Spring Football press conferences), and even then we'll probably have wait and see how it impacts the product on the field next season.
Given how the Iowa offense has struggled to reconcile Kirk Ferentz's philosophies with Greg Davis' philosophies over the last three seasons, it's hard to envision this move -- Ferentz taking control of the run game away from Davis and giving it to his son -- creating a more coherent and successful incarnation of the Iowa offense. On the other hand, Iowa has been middle of the pack or worse at running the ball among Big Ten teams since Shonn Greene's fabulous 2008 season. What Iowa's been doing on offense (especially when it comes to running the ball) hasn't been working like gangbusters, so shaking things up won't make things worse. Probably.
While I'm curious to see what (if any) effect Brian Ferentz's new position will have on Iowa's offense, it's certainly hard to get too excited by that change, let alone any of the others. This is (more or less) the same coaching staff that's gone 19-19 over the last three seasons, including 11-13 in Big Ten play. What this staff and this program really seems to need is some fresh ideas and new ways of thinking, not just getting the guys who are already here to look at things from a different chair at the table.