Big Ten Media Days wrapped up July 27 with the overwhelming majority of attention directed toward the Penn State scandal. Football will go on, and many of the Big Ten teams have generated a lot of excitement.
One team with potential upside, the Iowa Hawkeyes, made some changes this offseason, most notably for Texas fans, hiring former offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Head coach, Kirk Ferentz, and quarterback James Vandenberg have nothing but respect and enthusiasm for the 61-year-old offensive coordinator.
“How much he knows and how excited he gets, he’ll run all the way down the field after a big play in practice,” Vandenberg said.
A second-year starter, Vandenberg knows how much experience Davis has, as far as coaching different skill sets.
“He handed it to Ricky Williams 40 times, ran the zone, read with Vince Young and threw it almost every play with Colt McCoy,” Vandenberg said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. “All three players are arguably the greatest offensive weapons in the history of Longhorn football and aren’t a bad trio to have on a coaching resume.”
Ferentz, coming into his 14th season as Iowa’s head coach, had no doubt about hiring Davis after his stint on the 40 Acres. With references from Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin, and former Indianapolis head coach, Jim Caldwell, Ferentz heard nothing but great things about Davis, who has garnered much respect from the coaching landscape.
Davis led the Longhorns offense from 1998 to 2010 and for a 9-year stretch (2000-2009) within that period had Texas averaging 39 points per game, ranking first nationally among BCS schools. During the national title run in 2005, the Longhorns offense racked up 652 points, an NCAA record at the time, averaging 50.2 points per game.
However, with all the accolades, one of the big criticisms of Davis in his time at Texas was that he was a buttoned-down play caller and did not utilize the immense talent available — the same criticisms directed toward Ken O’Keefe, the longtime Iowa offensive coordinator who resigned in February to take the wide receivers’ coaching job with the Dolphins.
When questioned about Davis’ play-calling, Ferentz pointed to his track record at Texas consisting of tremendous long-term success.
“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.”
Ferentz continued on to reemphasize his lightning rod analogy.
“If Vince Lombardi were alive today and were an offensive coordinator, he’d be getting ripped on Sundays the first time his team lost,” he said.
It goes without question that Davis was and still is a remarkable coach with incredible ability to develop quarterbacks and coach to certain players’ abilities. It might not have been so evident in his final season on the 40 Acres, during which the offense averaged 23.8 points per game, pairing together with a 5-7 season; but make no mistake, a Greg Davis-led offense can score points. Perhaps a fresh start is all that’s needed.
Printed on Friday, August 31, 2012 as: Davis to make coaching debut with Iowa