It was sad to hear of the passing of former Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker. He was one of the best in the business, but you rarely heard about it because of the low profile he kept.
Parker wanted it that way. He was a quiet, humble man who came to Iowa in 1999 with Kirk Ferentz as defensive coordinator, a post he manned until his retirement after the 2011 season. And it was Parker’s defenses that often came to define the Hawkeye program and take it to great heights during his 13-year run in Iowa City. Parker ran the defense on Big Ten title teams in 2002 and 2004, in addition to a 2009 Hawkeyes squad that won the Orange Bowl.
Parker’s defenses were deadly because of their simplicity, as he kept coaching late in his career while dealing with debilitating effects of diabetes. Always hard-hitting and physical, Parker’s units took few chances with blitzes and stunts. Instead, Iowa often played from a base 4-3, keeping plays in front of them and making teams execute multiple-play drives to score. Parker’s D was not going to allow a big play. Offense were going to have to earn their points.
How good were Parker’s defenses? Iowa ranked among the top 10 nationally in rushing defense five times during his run. And it was in the top 10 in scoring defense in three of his last four seasons. In 2010, Iowa ranked No. 5 nationally in total defense (332.1), sixth in rushing defense (101.5) and seventh in scoring defense (17.0).
Parker helped groom myriad great players, including Bob Sanders, Chad Greenway, Pat Angerer and Adrian Clayborn, among others.
After the 2011 season, Parker was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). He was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year Award in 2004 and 2005.
Parker also served as an assistant at Michigan State (1983-1994), Illinois (1977-79) and Minnesota (1972-76).
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