Posted February 06, 2012

A curious cluster of coordinator kiss-offs

Coaching Carousel, Iowa Hawkeyes, Northern Illinois Huskies, Utah Utes

Former Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, who turns 25 in 10 days, has taken over as Utes' offensive coordinator. (Icon SMI)

With National Signing Day 2012 in the history books, coveted assistants scatter for parts known and unknown. Three in particular should not escape your attention:

Tectonic plates groan in the Hawkeye State. We can think of around a dozen FBS programs still seeking coordinators as the offseason lurches into the post-LOI lull, but with Norm Parker’s retirement following the Insight Bowl and Ken O’Keefe bound for the Dolphins, Iowa becomes one of just two teams with both top assistant slots vacant. (The other, Nevada, maybe shouldn’t even count, since Chris Ault’s only down a “run game coordinator” on the offensive side.) There will surely be no shortage of qualified candidates to replace them; this is Iowa, after all. But this will be a change to watch, as turnover at the peak of the Hawkeyes’ pyramid has been quite literally nonexistent during the Ferentz regime. Both Parker and O’Keefe began their tenures in 1999, Ferentz’s first season.

Hello, I must be going. Also lost to sunnier climes: NIU’s jauntily named P.J. Fleck, whose return to his alma mater as offensive coordinator was announced last Thursday, and who promptly departed his post on Friday, reportedly in favor of another Florida-based NFL job. Fleck had been coaching receivers at Rutgers prior to his brief elevation, and will be serving in the same capacity under the same head coach with Greg Schiano’s fledgling Tampa Bay Buccaneers administration. Now, please click this link to see a picture of P.J. Fleck’s hair, which looks exactly how you’d expect a guy named P.J. Fleck’s hair to look. SPOILER ALERT: Equally jaunty!

Whippersnapper, ahoy! The last time we saw Brian Johnson, it was a late January evening in 2009 and we were in the next-to-last row of the Superdome, a perilous perch even by nosebleed seat standards, watching him throw for 336 yards and three scores against a bewildered Crimson Tide team in the Sugar Bowl. Keep this in mind to remind you that Brian Johnson was in college in 2009. After a brief flirtation with the UFL, he returned to the Utes in 2010 as Kyle Whittingham’s quarterbacks coach. Late last week, he was named to the OC post vacated by Norm Chow. Johnson’s 25th birthday is 10 days away. When we were 25, we believed “purchasing a couch that did not have to be assembled upon arrival” was the highlight of our year, so we’re feeling nice and adequate at life today.

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