More Turnover?

A website called posted Sunday that Iowa Defensive Line coach Rick Kaczenski has been ‘targeted’ by Nebraska coach Bo Pelini to fill an opening he has on his staff.

I have been to this site before, but it’s not a site that I have bookmarked to check on a regular basis.  I can’t speak to it’s sources or accuracy, but a story in the Omaha World Herald on Sunday, citing this same snippet, said that the site is “a coaching site clearinghouse that’s right more often than not.”  Again, I can’t speak to that as I am just not familiar with that site’s track record.

I only know Coach Kaczenski based upon the three or four time I have interviewed him at Iowa football media days since he was hired in 2007 to coach Iowa’s defensive line unit, having been promoted from his position as a Graduate Assistant at Iowa during the 2005 & 2006 seasons.  That basically means that I don’t know Kaczenski that well at all and will not pretend that I do.  He replaced Ron Aiken, who left the program in February of 2007 to join the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals staff.

The World-Herald item reminded me not that Kaczenski played at Notre Dame, but played there under Joe Moore, who was one of Kirk Ferentz’s biggest football influences/mentors.

One thing I have consistently heard about ‘Coach Kaz’ is that he is intense…real intense.  In your face intense.  I witnessed this a few times walking back and forth behind the Iowa bench during the 2010 season while on assignment for the Big Ten Network.  I chalked most of that up to just being a part of the game.  It’s an emotional game and he wouldn’t be the first coach to allow the fire in his belly to boil over from time to time so I can’t say if his demeanor is typical or atypical as it relates to other members of the coaching staff.

As I wrote in my Hawk Stock piece on Iowa recruiting during the Ferentz era, the Hawkeyes have had a significant level of attrition at the defensive line position since after the 2007 season.   That may be nothing more than coincidence and a series of bad breaks, but it does stand out a bit when you have one position see a great deal of attrition that doesn’t hit other positions on the team equally.

Kaczenski recruits the state of Florida for Iowa, and the World Herald item had this to say about those efforts:  “Kaczenski recruits in Florida — Ft. Lauderdale area especially — which is good, but most of the prospects he’d pulled out of there have been sleepers who never woke up.”

That is the opinion of the writer, yet when you look at the commitments Iowa has had from the Sunshine State during Kaczenski’s time working that area, the data is somewhat supportive.

David Blackwell: Never made it to Iowa, went to Iowa Western
Jeff Brinson: Transfered
Jack Swanson: 4th year junior, listed behind Tanner Miller on Nebraska-game depth chart

Joshua Brown: Transfered in summer of 2010 after redshirting in 2009

De’Andre Johnson: RS freshman RB, played sparingly in 2011

Torrey Campbell: Redshirted in 2011
Jake Rudock: Redshirted in 2011

Greg Mabin: Offers from Jacksonville State & Tulane
Daumantas Venckus: Offers from Iowa, Navy & Colorado State

The first thing that jumps out is that nearly half of the players from Florida that signed letters of intent to play for Iowa between 2008-2011 are no longer with the program. Then again, the state of Florida hasn’t been kind to Iowa for some time:

Jevon Pugh: Transfer

Lance Tillison: Transfer, then came back in limited role

Kalvin Bailey: Academic casualty
Vernon Jackson: Injury, ended career

Griffin Karr: Me neither
Damian Sims: Rushed for 1,504 yards in four year career

Chris Brevi

Marcus Paschal: Multiyear starter
Edmond Miles: Stater in 2005
Larry Thomas: Transfer

In looking at this data set, it would be unfair to lay Iowa’s lack of production from Florida player’s at Kaczenski’s feet because it’s been a LONG time since Iowa has seen great and multiyear contributions from former Florida preps. Kaczenski also recruits the Atlanta Metro for the Hawkeyes, according to

I know this is the point where some wax poetic about Bret Bielema’s days recruiting Florida for Iowa. He was able to help bring in more players that made a big impact at Iowa than anyone else has, yet roughly half the players he helped bring to Iowa from Florida never saw senior day in Iowa City.

Perhaps this exercise says nothing more than Iowa either needs a huge upgrade in its Florida recruiting efforts or shouldn’t bother at all?

Let’s circle back to the topic at hand, which is the rumor related to Kaczenski and Nebraska.

When Norm Parker retired, the countdown began as to whom Kirk Ferentz was going to hire as the person to replace Norm. When I put together my quick list, I never gave Kaczenski a thought and still don’t. He’ll be 37 years old in February and with more experienced staff members like Phil Parker in the mix for the Defensive Coordinator position, I just don’t see it happening.

If I am Kaczenski and I want to be a DC, with Iowa ready to hire a DC and the chances are remote that the hire will be me, I wonder when the next chance for such a position at Iowa is going to come up? Perhaps by looking somewhere else creates a quicker path to that goal? Yet, is that school Nebraska, given they are going to be hiring a new DC, too, as Bo Pelini’s brother Carl left the program to be the head coach at a directional Florida program?

Stuff like this is interesting, yet it’s nothing more than a rumor at this point. One worth watching, perhaps.

  • Larry Flint

    Vernon Jackson didn’t transfer.  He had a career ending injury and remained on scholarship.  He remained in school and, to my knowledge, ended up getting his degree.

  • Grady

    Nebraska may be looking for a recruiting foothold wherever they can get it.  Checked out their 2012 class recently?  Going forward they will lose a lot of their Texas connections since they no longer play in the B12 and they will never get the top guys from Ohio as they hope.  They’ve always had a national recruiting base, but no question this is a time of transition for them.

    • pjbighuskerman

      Grady, only 13 scholarships for this class at NU, why only 9 recruits so far.  Please look the QUALITY of recruits. Sort by “stars” on rivals. Nebraska is number 7 or 8.  California, Arizona, JC in California and Kansas, states connected to Nebraska geographically, TexAss, Florida, and some northeast states. That is where Nebraska recruits. Always have (before big 12) and always will.    

  • Kyle K

    He is DC material and doesn’t need to wait for his turn at Iowa. Give the guy some credit for NFL quality players he has coached: King, Kroul, Clayborn, Ballard, Klug, Daniels, Binns, etc.

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