Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, the son of longtime coach Kirk Ferentz whose contract amid the offense’s historic struggles drew national attention, will not return for the 2024 season.
Interim athletic director Beth Goetz, who supervises Brian Ferentz because of nepotism laws, made the announcement Monday after discussing the situation with Brian Ferentz, Kirk Ferentz and university president Barbara Wilson. In a statement, Goetz noted that Iowa’s struggles on offense this season, combined with Ferentz’s contract situation, created “a unique situation” for the program.
The Hawkeyes did not play last week and are set to face Northwestern on Saturday at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
“Making this known today is in the best interest of the program and its loyal fans; it provides clarity during this pivotal time in the schedule,” Goetz said in the statement.
“It is not my practice to be involved in assistant coaching decisions and certainly not to make public such a change during a season. Our priority is to put all our student-athletes in the best position to have both short-term and long-term success, on and off the field. Our football team has a group of outstanding young men and talented athletes, who at 6-2, have a lot to play for. As a former athlete, I know every opportunity to put on the jersey is a cherished one.”
Ferentz, the oldest son of Kirk Ferentz and a former offensive lineman at Iowa, has served as the team’s offensive coordinator since 2017 and has been on his father’s staff since 2012. In February, Iowa announced contract amendments for him that included an unusual points-per-game provision — the team would need to average 25 points per game during the 2023 season and win at least seven games for Ferentz’s two-year rolling contract to be reactivated beyond June 30, 2024.
Longtime athletic director Gary Barta, who crafted the so-called Drive to 325 provision and had supervised Ferentz, announced his retirement Aug. 1. Ferentz has since been reporting to Goetz, considered a strong candidate to land the permanent athletic director job.
“The way that it’s structured is unique,” Goetz told ESPN in August. “It’s going to create a lot of chatter, so how do we allow for that and understand it is what it is? That’s the agreement in place, so let’s just focus on what we’re doing. You beat another team by beating them by one or a tenth of a second, pick your sport. That’s how these people are wired.”
Iowa is well below the 25 points-per-game provision in Ferentz’s contract, ranking 118th nationally in scoring offense (19.5). The Hawkeyes are last nationally in yards per game at 232.4, well behind the next-worst offense (Eastern Michigan, 258.8). They have faced several setbacks, losing starting quarterback Cade McNamara and tight ends Luke Lachey and Erick All to significant injuries.
Since 2017, Iowa ranks 98th nationally in scoring at 25.3 points per game, but the offense has averaged just 20.4 since the start of the 2021 season.
“For the vast majority of my adult life I have had the privilege to represent the University of Iowa as a football player and coach,” Brian Ferentz said in a statement to ESPN’s Pete Thamel. “I have always considered and will always consider it an honor. In that time my singular goal has been to contribute to the football team’s success. As long as I am employed by the University of Iowa my stated goal will not change. My priority will continue to be the well-being of our students and the success of our team.”
In August, Brian Ferentz told ESPN that he was solely focused on how he could improve Iowa’s offense and would accept any employment decisions the team made.
“We’ve been fortunate at this institution that we value experience, we value continuity and, most importantly, we value people,” he said. “But if the head coach ever walked in here and said, ‘I don’t think you’re the person to do this anymore,’ I would respect the hell out of that. And I’d walk out the front door.”
Kirk Ferentz, who has led Iowa since the 1999 season and is the nation’s longest-tenured coach, has had only three offensive coordinators in Ken O’Keefe, Greg Davis and Brian Ferentz. O’Keefe voluntarily left Iowa’s staff for the Miami Dolphins after the 2011 season and Davis retired from coaching after the 2016 campaign.
Kirk Ferentz is set to address reporters Tuesday afternoon in Iowa City.
“I’ve been here 34 years now, two different times, and I’ve never witnessed a coordinator being relieved of his duties,” Kirk Ferentz, an Iowa assistant from 1981 to 1989, told ESPN in August. “If you don’t think somebody is getting the job done, then yeah, you have to suggest maybe it’s time to move on or whatever. You just try to evaluate your people, that’s part of your job. We haven’t had much turnover here.”