Kirk Ferentz

Greg Davis (left), who coached at Texas for 13 seasons, is now the offensive coordinator at Iowa and will make his debut with the team on Saturday. He led the Texas offense to a national title in 2005. The team averaged averaged 50.2 points per game that season.[Daily Texan File Photo]

Photo Credit: Amanda Martin | Daily Texan Staff

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

Iowa excited about its new offensive coordinator

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.”