This past weekend, storied Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker announced his retirement, effective after the Hawks' Insight Bowl game against Oklahoma.
Parker has been with Iowa since Kirk Ferentz became the head coach in 1999.
Before that, he coached at Michigan State, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Illinois, Minnesota, Wake Forest and his alma mater, Eastern Michigan. Parker has been working as a football coach in some capacity since 1966.
Parker has had unprecedented success with Iowa defenses, fielding a top 20 scoring defense in six of his 13 seasons.
The last two seasons have been somewhat rough—despite the fact that the Hawkeyes were indeed a top 10 scoring defense in 2010—and I have been calling for Norm's retirement since the end of the 2010 season.
However, my reasoning had nothing to do with Parker's abilities as a coach, and everything to do with his limitations as a person that could no longer handle the substantial grind of a physically intense job.
Among other things, I am thankful that Parker has had the opportunity to leave when he wanted to.
That said, the Hawks now have a significant coaching vacancy to fill.
I suspect Parker knew about this move for a while, and, by extension, I suspect Kirk Ferentz has also been aware and has been scouting his options.
The person that gets the job will never replace Parker, but as Ferentz is a defense-first coach, I also suspect he will accept nothing less than his No. 1 choice.