Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz completed his second staff shake-up in as many years Friday, hiring Minnesota Vikings assistant Chris White to coach running backs and calling himself eager to start "a new chapter" in the program.
Ferentz said that White, who will also coordinate the Hawkeyes' special teams, was the sixth and final hire to his staff to replace assistants who departed the program in the last 14 months. Known for staff stability during his 14 seasons at Iowa, Ferentz downplayed the turnover as routine for college football and said his new assistants would bring a diverse set of talents to a program seeking to rebound from its worst season in 12 years.
"We've been through a period of transition, but really enthused about the direction of things and really enthused about the group of guys that we have here," he said. "Now we turn our attention to our team."
Ferentz said the assistants would bring "fresh ideas" to Iowa, which was 4-8 last year and ended with a six-game losing streak. Still, he cautioned that Iowa's "whole system" need not be overhauled, even as he took responsibility for a disappointing season.
Ferentz said he was encouraged that players were working out hard in the offseason, motivated by Iowa's missing a bowl game for the first time since 2007.
"Bottom line is nobody is happy and nobody is pleased about the way last year went," he said. "It does cause you to look at things and be introspective a little bit. But the big thing is to come up with a good plan and really work that plan well, and hopefully we can be a little bit better this time around."
White has spent the past four seasons as special teams assistant with the Vikings, after working nine years in a variety of assistant roles at Syracuse. Coaching running backs — a player group at Iowa that has been hit with a string of injuries, discipline problems and transfers in recent years — will be a first for White. He replaces Lester Erb, who had been a Ferentz assistant for 13 years and recently left the program.
Ferentz announced earlier this month that he was adding Colorado assistant Bobby Kennedy to coach wide receivers, a group that struggled mightily last year. He replaces Erik Campbell, who left after the season. Ferentz said Kennedy should have an easy transition because he worked with Iowa offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who oversaw one of the nation's worst offensive attacks last season, when the two were at Texas.
Ferentz said Davis now "has a much better feel" for Iowa's program after a year on the job.
On the other side of the football, Ferentz hired Virginia assistant Jim Reid to work as an assistant under defensive coordinator Phil Parker, who is entering his second season. Reid, a former head coach at UMass, will work with linebackers.
Reid's opening came after another longtime Ferentz assistant, Darrell Wilson, joined the staff at Rutgers. Ferentz said each of the six coaches who have left has "a different story" but declined to elaborate on the departures.
"The conversations that you have are conversations that are private and that's probably the best place to keep them," he said.