CHICAGO -- For my summer internship in the Windy City, I was given the chance to cover the Big Ten media days Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency downtown.
The overwhelming majority of attention was, of course, directed towards the Penn State scandal. However, when it got down to the subject at hand -- football -- I saw a conference looking forward to the future, with talented young teams ready to emerge.
One team with upside, the Iowa Hawkeyes, made some changes this offseason -- most notably for Texas fans, hiring former offensive coordinator Greg Davis. I sat down with head coach Kirk Ferentz and senior quarterback James Vandenberg to discuss their new play-caller.
Vandenberg, a second-year starter, knows how well Davis has adjusted his offense to particular skill sets in the past.
“He handed it to Ricky Williams forty times, ran the zone read with Vince Young, and threw it almost every play with Colt McCoy," said Vandenberg, who threw for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. "He knows a lot."
Vandenberg is also impressed with Davis' fire.
“[I've noticed] how excited he gets, he’ll run all the way down the field after a big play in practice.”
Ferentz, coming into his fourteenth season at the helm of the Iowa program, had no doubt about hiring Davis after he took a year off. With references from Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin and former Indianapolis head coach, Jim Caldwell, Ferentz heard nothing but great things about the 61-year-old Davis and the respect he has garnered around the coaching landscape.
One of the big criticisms of Davis at Texas was being a buttoned-down play caller at times, and not utilizing the immense talent available, which just so happens to be the same criticisms directed towards Ken O’Keefe, the longtime Iowa offensive coordinator who resigned in February to take the wide receivers coaching job with the Dolphins.
Ferentz isn't having any of that, or the unfair fact that offensive coordinators scapegoats for a struggling football team.
“The offensive coordinator position has become a lightning rod in football, and Greg knows that it comes with the territory,” Ferentz said. "If you look at Greg’s statistics, it’s almost laughable to question his coaching ability. If Vince Lombardi were alive today and was an offensive coordinator, he’d be getting ripped on Sundays the first time his team lost.”
It goes without question that Davis was and still is a remarkable coach with incredible ability to develop quarterbacks and coach up to certain abilities. That touch might not have been so evident in 2010, his final year with the Longhorns, but as writer Robert Brault once said, “Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Déjà vu.”