There will not be a new offensive coordinator in Iowa City until after Iowa’s January 1st bowl game against Tennessee. Kirk Ferentz addressed the media this week during bowl practice discussing the current offensive coordinator search. The head coach has made three phone calls and has one more target in mind at this point. Ferentz said he will hold in-person interviews for the job in early January after the Citrus Bowl.
Two of the offensive coordinator targets have been confirmed. They are Paul Chryst and Joe Philbin. Rumors suggested the job was Philbin’s to lose at the end of last week. However, that was negated after Ferentz’s media availability this week. Chryst is another target that Ferentz confirmed this week. Here are a handful of names worth considering as Iowa narrows its interview process.
Paul Chryst – Analyst, Texas
This hire would make the most sense, and would probably be the most realistic “home-run” hire that Iowa could make. Chryst is currently an offensive analyst and special assistant to the head coach for the third-ranked Texas Longhorns. That program’s 12-1 record lifted it into the final four-team College Football Playoff. Before Texas, Chryst spent seven-and-a-half seasons as the head coach of Wisconsin. He had a 67-26 overall record, went to three New Year’s Six bowl games, won two of them, and had four ten-plus win seasons. He was fired midway through the 2022 season despite all of that.
Chryst played quarterback at Wisconsin in the late 1980s and has been coaching offense since 1990. His first offensive coordinator role was in 2003 with Oregon State and lasted two seasons. Chryst then had a six-year stint as Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator from 2005 through 2011 before his first head coaching gig at Pittsburgh from 2012 to 2014. A year later, his alma mater hired him on as the head coach.
As an offensive coordinator in Corvallis, Chryst’s offense won two bowl games averaging 422 yards per game, and scored exactly 30 points per game in that two-year stint. Chryst then took over as the co-offensive coordinator in Madison in 2005 and was named the offensive coordinator in 2006. From 2006 to 2011, the Badgers had five ten-plus win seasons. Chryst’s offense averaged 415 yards per game under his direction.
Joe Philbin – Analyst, Ohio State
Another realistic, but less “splashy” hire could be the current Ohio State offensive analyst in Philbin. The Buckeyes won 11 games this season and its offense had a Heisman Trophy finalist in Marvin Harrison Jr. Philbin spent the 1999 through 2002 seasons in Iowa City as Ferentz’s offensive line coach. His offensive line included Robert Gallery, who won the Outland Trophy in 2003, and it blocked for the 2002 Heisman Trophy Runner Up, quarterback Brad Banks.
Philbin spent the 2003 through 2011 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He served as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2007 to 2011 with quarterback Aaron Rogers including the Packers’ 2010 Super Bowl Championship. Philbin’s offense averaged 5.95 yards per play during his five seasons as the offensive coordinator. He bounced around to a few other organizations through 2022 before landing in Columbus under head coach Ryan Day for 2023.
The standing relationship that Philbin has with Ferentz is likely a significant factor in his potential to be the next play-caller in Iowa City. Ferentz is an offensive line coach by nature and was one of the first head coaches to implement the zone blocking scheme in the Big Ten when he first joined the coaching staff. Ferentz is committed to running a complimentary football program built on establishing the run, taking care of the football, and winning field positions with defense and special teams. That will not change regardless of the next offensive coordinator at Iowa. Philbin’s experience under Ferentz’s system will make him a competitive candidate for the job.
Jon Budmayr – Analyst, Iowa
Iowa brought Budmayr onto its staff before the 2022 season. He came over from Colorado State where he was the offensive coordinator for one season. However, Budmayr’s career began as a quarterback for Wisconsin from 2009 to 2011. He served as a graduate assistant for a handful of years before being named the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2016 through 2020. Budmayr actually extended Cade McNamara his first Power Five offer during his high school recruitment. He also recruited Jack Coan, Graham Mertz, and Deacon Hill to the Badgers during his five-year stint in Madison.
Budmayr would make the most sense as far as an internal hire for Iowa. His role as an offensive analyst for two seasons has made him familiar with the program and how Ferentz wants to run it. He would also serve as a solid recruiter for the Hawkeyes, having recruited the team’s top two current quarterbacks, though he did so at another school. Budmayr is also just 33 years old. He would be the youngest offensive coordinator hire at Iowa under Ferentz if he is given the keys.
Other Names to Mention
Ryan Grubb has been floating around as a potential target for Iowa’s next offensive coordinator. Though highly unlikely, Washington’s current offensive coordinator is from Iowa and began his collegiate coaching career in the Midwest at South Dakota State. It’s also a stretch that Grubb would make a lateral coaching move within the Big Ten after the tremendous success his offense has had at Washington in just two years. Not to mention the schematic differences between what Ferentz wants to run compared to Grubb’s offense.
Tim Polasek was Iowa’s offensive line coach from 2017 through 2020 and developed some of the program’s best linemen. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Wyoming under Craig Bohl. Bohl is coaching his final game at Wyoming in the Barstool Arizona Bowl this month. Jay Sawvel has been named the next head coach in Laramie, and Polasek could be on the move.
The Long Shot
A name worth bringing to the table is one of Ferentz’s former players. Drew Tate has spent his last eight seasons in eight different cities playing and coaching football. His coaching career began as a defensive analyst for Coastal Carolina in 2018. Tate then went to the Canadian Football League for a few years where he coached nearly every position group on offense. He spent a year at UT Martin as the quarterbacks coach, and a year at Northern Iowa as the tight ends coach. Tate is currently the wide receivers coach for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The 2005 Capital One Bowl Champion quarterback has said his ultimate goal is to be a head football coach. The path he wants to take would begin with landing an offensive coordinator gig. Tate is hoping that the numerous roles he’s taken over the last handful of seasons will help make him a more well-rounded leader and coach. If Ferentz were to give Tate a phone call, they’d probably begin by discussing their dramatic win over Nick Saban back in 2005. But Tate has said that the offensive coordinator job in Iowa City would be “an awesome deal.”