Iowa used to have one of the nation’s most stable staffs under head coach Kirk Ferentz. In less than two months, he has lost the only coordinators he has ever had.
Iowa announced Friday that offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe had resigned after 13 seasons, leaving the program for another coaching position the school did not identify. The surprise departure, first reported by the Des Moines Register, leaves both coordinator jobs open at Iowa.
”Ken’s work contributed greatly to our program’s success during the past 13 years, and more impressively to the growth and development of the young men in our program,” Ferentz said in a statement.
Ferentz is expected to name a replacement for longtime defensive coordinator Norm Parker, who retired, sometime next week. Iowa has also yet to officially replace defensive line coach Rick Kaczenski, who left for a similar job at rival Nebraska.
The 58-year-old O’Keefe was known for running a balanced, pro-style attack at Iowa that some fans considered too conservative. The Hawkeyes finished 58th in the country in scoring offense in 2011, averaging 27.5 points per game, behind first-year starting quarterback James Vandenberg, star wide receiver Marvin McNutt and running back Marcus Coker.
Though the Hawkeyes never really lit up scoreboards during O’Keefe’s tenure, the past 13 years have included some of the best seasons in school history.
Iowa has missed a bowl only once in the past 10 seasons, winning 85 games overall and 50 in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes were undefeated in November 2009 before an injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi helped knock them out of national title contention, though they recovered in time to beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Quarterback Brad Banks finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2002, and running back Shonn Greene was named the Doak Walker Award winner in 2008 under O’Keefe’s watch.
O’Keefe graduated from John Carroll University in 1975. He was the head coach at Allegheny College from 1990-97 and spent 1998 as the head coach at Fordham.