Kirk Ferentz introduces Phil Parker

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Phil Parker had the opportunity to leave Iowa for a defensive coordinator's job at another major program more than once, yet chose to stay with the Hawkeyes.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz certainly appreciated Parker's loyalty to the program. But Ferentz said Wednesday that he promoted Parker from defensive backs coach to defensive coordinator after 13 seasons simply because Parker was, in his eyes, the best man for the job.

The Hawkeyes announced Tuesday that Parker would take over for Norm Parker (no relation), who ran Iowa's defense from 1999 until last season.

"Certainly Phil's proven himself through the years, 13 years here," Ferentz said. "He'll do an outstanding job in that role. It's about as simple as that."

The 48-year-old Parker has been with Ferentz since Ferentz took over for Hayden Fry before the 1999 season. Parker wasn't able to share his ideas for Iowa's defense on Wednesday because he wasn't available to reporters, but it's unlikely he'll depart much from the philosophy that made Norm Parker so successful.

Iowa finished in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense from 2008-10, playing with a traditional four-man front and relying more on fundamentals that schemes.

"I just think he's a really respected, outstanding coach. He's got a vision for what he wants to do, and he'll communicate that to our staff and to our players," Ferentz said.

Phil Parker's promotion answered one major offseason question mark for Iowa, which finished just 7-6 and 4-4 in the Big Ten a year ago.

But the Hawkeyes still have to find a new offensive coordinator after Ken O'Keefe's departure for a job with the Miami Dolphins.

Ferentz said he wasn't all that surprised that O'Keefe would leave for Miami given his relationship with new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, who worked with O'Keefe under Ferentz at Iowa from 1999-2002.

"It was a great opportunity. It was a tough decision for Ken," Ferentz said. "That's going to be a tough seat to fill."

Iowa's offense, much like its defense, was relatively conservative during O'Keefe's tenure. Though Ferentz said he's going to be open-minded in who he considers to replace O'Keefe, it's safe to assume the Hawkeyes will stick largely to the basics in the future.

"The big thing is, we'll try to fit the personnel we have and that changes year-to-year," Ferentz said. "We've got to block, we've to make the makeable plays and make sure we're doing a good job in turnover ratio," Ferentz said.

The Hawkeyes also have coaching holes to fill at linebacker and offensive line, though former NFL player and current assistant LeVar Woods appears to be a favorite for the linebackers position.

"We've got three spots to fill right now," Ferentz said. "The key thing is getting the right people. The calendar is important to some degree, but what's more important is getting the right people in place for this program, for this team -- and the good news is we're not playing until Sept. 1."