Tuesdays With Bore-y: Casual Wednesday

By Patrick Vint on July 20, 2017 at 3:28 pm
Kirk Ferentz
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz stepped to the podium Wednesday in Iowa City, clad in a sharp-looking pair of shorts, and gave us a somewhat-surprising update on the Iowa football program.  Actual information here, sheeple:

  • As expected, Nevada graduate transfer James Butler will be with the program to start August camp.  “We still haven’t had him on the field so I want to be a little guarded on my remarks,” said Ferentz, before detailing the process for hiring his latest Butler.  Yes, it involved a talk with Akrum Wadley.  No, it did not change much of what Iowa wants to do with Wadley this year.  “Our plans aren’t going to change a lot for him. As long as he’s able to go, he’s going to be going," Ferentz said of his returning halfback.  
  • Butler's presence will likely reduce Wadley's carries, but it could well free him up to contribute more in the passing game and keep him fresh for crunch time.  Iowa played this game well with Wadley and LeShun Daniels last year, and with Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher before them (and Albert Young and Damian Sims if you want to go back more than a decade).  This can work.  On a team that plans to run the ball on 94 percent of snaps, it has to work.
  • Speaking of which, Ferentz teased another potential grad transfer joining the program in the next week or two.  After nearly twenty years of avoiding JUCO transfers and the like, Ferentz has clearly been moved by the Ron Colluzzi Experience last fall and sees targeted graduate transfers as a potential way to fill depth chart holes with experienced players.
  • Iowa added Kevin Spencer, a longtime NFL assistant and special teams guru, to a quality control position.  Obviously, Spencer is likely to take the tenth assistant position following the 2017 season; even if he gets a full-time special teams position with Iowa, it's a fairly big step down for a guy who has coached in two Super Bowls and was the 2003 NFL Special Teams Coach of the Year.  So why did Spencer take the job?  SIX DEGREES OF KIRK FERENTZ TIME!  Spencer got his NFL start with the 1991 Cleveland Browns, coaching under Bill Belichick as an offensive assistant through 1994.  For his last two seasons, he worked with offensive line coach...Kirk Ferentz.  And before that, Spencer was the head coach at Wesleyan University, where he would have run in the same circles as fellow Division III head coach Ken O'Keefe at nearby Allegheny (and, probably to a lesser extent, Kirk Ferentz at Maine).
  • Seth Wallace, the rising star assistant on Iowa's defensive staff, is now Assistant Defensive Coordinator.  He will still coach linebackers, as he did last season.  Wallace had been a defensive assistant for Iowa in the late aughts before leaving to become defensive coordinator at Valdosa State (Ga.)  Does this mean that Iowa is setting the table for the departure of Phil Parker, who is 54 years old and has spent the last 19 seasons in Iowa City?  Does this set up Wallace to spread his wings?  Or is this just the defensive equivalent of the "run game coordinator" title bump given to Brian Ferentz a few years ago?     The timing is a bit odd, but it's too late in the offseason to worry much about it.
  • Get your head_explosion.gif ready: Ferentz wouldn't rule out handing the starting quarterback job to incoming true freshman Peyton Mansell.  Now, let's tap the breaks a bit: Ferentz's response -- basically "Anything is possible because SPORTS, and I can't rule it out, because he could end up being the best option when he gets here" -- is hardly an endorsement of obliterating the current depth chart to vault Mansell into Johnny Football territory, and Iowa's ability to declare a quarterback race "wide open" when it's been effectively settled is fairly well documented.  But hey, it's July, so RECKLESS SPECULATION IT UP, PEOPLE.
  • Ferentz couldn't talk about Daviyon Nixon's status, as he isn't under LOI with Iowa at the moment.  It was reported earlier this week that Nixon won an appeal which would allow him to join Iowa next spring, presumably after a season at Iowa Western Community College.
  • Tristan Wirfs is not playing defensive tackle.  Which, der.

All in all, that's the most news-packed press conference Kirk Ferentz has held in a decade.  I'm winded just writing about it.  I could really use a drink of water, if I hadn't taken the top off of the water bottle and put it back on before taking a drink about 36 times.

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