Hawkeyes Offensive Coordinator Ken O’Keefe is moving on to the next chapter in his coaching career. Sources have said he is going to be moving on to the NFL to coach the wide receivers of the Miami Dolphins. He will be reunited with his long time friend, Joe Philbin. Philbin was also a former Hawkeye coach and left several years ago to become a coach in the Packers organization before being named head coach of the Dolphins last week.
I know not all Hawkeye fans are sorry to see Ken go. I can’t disagree that I have never sat in Section 138 and wondered why a particular play was called. Believe me, it’s happened. A lot. (Flashback: Shonn Greene dropped for a loss on 4th and Goal against Michigan State during a play off left tackle.) But even the most respected coaches can be easily questioned by fans who never want to experience the disappointment of a loss.
I have met Ken several times. But he wouldn’t know my name. We are both frequent fliers. I have probably flown on the same flights with Ken at least a dozen times. In these experiences it is easy to understand why Coach Ferentz would want a guy like Ken on his staff. Ken is genuine and very down to earth. He is very approachable. To a stranger, a stranger on a cramped, crowded regional jet to Cedar Rapids, he is very approachable. He makes eye contact almost like he is wanting to talk to you before the conversation even gets started. I never asked Ken too pointed of questions. Mainly because I know I am not football-savvy enough to even fake it. But I always got the impression that he would entertain anything I threw at him. He would openly share how recruiting can be a humbling experience seeing where a lot of kids come from. He would also talk about the atmosphere at Kinnick on game day and how thankful he was for his opportunities.
I shouldn’t be too surprised Ken is leaving. Apparently, he was looking at opportunities in the 2011 offseason. I read a lot of comments from Hawk fans complaining about how long Coach Ferentz seems to take with the hiring process. If it takes a few extra weeks to get another quality person like Coach O’Keefe, we should be glad. Here’s to the bubble screen!