Iowa Hawkeyes football has been no stranger to offensive struggles in recent years, and the 2023 season has brought about new challenges for the team. According to the latest statistics, the Hawkeyes find themselves ranked dead last, 130th out of 130, for total offense this season averaging just 232.4 yards per game, across 451 plays. This grim ranking underscores the significant obstacles they've faced on the offensive side of the game.

Minnesota v Iowa
Credit: Getty Images / Matthew Holst
Fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes wear "Fire Brian" shirts refering to Brian Ferentz as they watch the offensive struggles in the second half against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Kinnick Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Some may call to the fact that injuries have been a major setback this campaign (loss of starting QB Cade McNamara), but others have looked to Iowa's past offensive stats to draw a more singular conclusion.

Michigan State v Iowa
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Brian Ferentz, the offensive coordinator and son of head coach Kirk Ferentz, is at the center of this scrutiny. He has held the role of offensive coordinator since 2017, but the team's offensive performance has been both unimpressive and unresponsive under B. Ferentz. The Hawkeyes' offensive woes extend back to previous seasons, with a 123rd ranking out of 131 FBS teams in 2022, and 99th out of 130 programs in 2021.

Iowa v Nebraska
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David Eickholt of Hawkeye Insider has reported that Brian Ferentz is not expected to return as the offensive coordinator in 2024. At the time Eickholt reported, there was no official announcement from the University of Iowa, but the expectation is that Brian Ferentz will continue to serve as offensive coordinator throughout the remainder of the 2023 season. That has since been confirmed, as Beth Goetz has since released a statement with the intent of the Hawkeyes post-season move.

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To make matters more complicated, the university imposed a scoring target for the 2023 season, mandating that the Hawkeyes must score at least 25 points per game, including postseason bowl games, through offense, special teams, or defense. Unfortunately, Iowa has only reached the target twice this season, raising questions about Brian Ferentz's future with the program.

Missouri State v Iowa
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Before the season began, the university restructured Ferentz's contract, even including a $50,000 deduction. However, it offered the possibility of reverting to the previous contract terms if the team met its scoring demands. This situation becomes more complex due to the university's nepotism policy, which has Brian Ferentz reporting to interim athletic director Beth Goetz instead of directly to father and head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Since the news has come out, Iowa interim athletics director Beth Goetz did release a statement, which can be seen below:

Anyone who loves Iowa football recognizes both the success and challenges that have brought attention to our program this season. Our struggles on offense coupled with the offensive coordinator’s contract make this a unique situation. After conversations with head coach Kirk Ferentz, coach Brian Ferentz and President Wilson, I informed Brian that our intention is for him to be with us through the bowl game, but this is his last season with the program. Making this known today is in the best interest of the program and its loyal fans; it provides clarity during this pivotal time in the schedule. It is not my practice to be involved in assistant coaching decisions and certainly not to make public such a change during a season. Our priority is to put all our student-athletes in the best position to have both short-term and long-term success, on and off the field. Our football team has a group of outstanding young men and talented athletes, who at 6-2, have a lot to play for. As a former athlete, I know every opportunity to put on the jersey is a cherished one. As Hawkeyes, let’s continue to support all our coaches, staff and student-athletes in their pursuit of a Big Ten Championship and bowl game victory.”

– Beth Goetz, Iowa interim athletics director

Northern Illinois v Iowa
Credit: Matthew Holst / Getty Images
SEPTEMBER 01: Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes tears up as he is congratulated by his son, offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz after the match-up against the Northern Illinois Huskies on September 1, 2018 at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, Iowa. The win made Ferentz the winningest coach in Iowa football history with 144 wins.

Despite their offensive struggles, the Hawkeyes are in a four-way tie with Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin in the Big Ten West. The focus for the team is now shifting towards making a late season push to secure a spot atop the division. Hopefully details will be forthcoming addressing the Hawkeyes long-term plans for their offense in the coming weeks.

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