January 2013

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Former Ferentz Assistants Leading Dolphins By Aaron Blau I t's no secret that University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz is cut from an NFL cloth. He spent six seasons as offensive line coach in the professional ranks and is well-respected among NFL organizations. One of those organizations, the Miami Dolphins, is relying on three former Ferentz assistants to build the team into a Super Bowl contender. Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, wide receivers coach Ken O'Keefe, and defensive assistant Charlie Bullen spent time under Ferentz in the Hawkeye football program. Philbin (offensive line) and O'Keefe (offensive coordinator) were two of Ferentz's first hires when he took over the Iowa football program in 1999. Bullen spent five seasons on staff as a student and graduate assistant. Philbin and O'Keefe helped return the Iowa program to national prominence, bursting back on the scene with a Big championship and Orange Bowl berth in 2002. Three of Philbin's offensive linemen, Eric Steinbach, Robert Gallery and Bruce Nelson, earned first-team All-Big honors and were selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft. O'Keefe coached Brad Banks to one of the most memorable seasons for an Iowa quarterback, finishing runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. After the 2002 season, Philbin accepted the offensive line position with the Green Bay Packers and was named offensive coordinator in 2007. Philbin coached Packer greats Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, and won Super Bowl XLV in 2010. In 2012, Philbin became the 10th head coach in Dolphins history. Philbin has worked with some of the greats in football, but credits his time at Iowa for grooming him to become an NFL head coach. "It was the most influential four years I spent in the coaching profession," Philbin said of his time in Iowa City. "It was an honor to work at the University of Iowa, and I think the world of coach Ferentz and his staff. He's not only an exceptional coach, he's a tremendous human being and has a wonderful family." Philbin remembers the great wins and standout players that helped define the program during his tenure at Iowa, but he will always remember the people of eastern Iowa and the Hawkeye fan base. "From a professional standpoint, it was an exceptional experience," Philbin said. "We had a great staff and excellent football players. "From a personal standpoint, one of my children was born in the hospital across the street from the stadium. The people of Iowa City, Coralville, and the entire state, are outstanding. It was a special time in our lives." O'Keefe spent 13 seasons as Ferentz's offensive coordinator and helped guide the Hawkeyes to one of the most successful stretches in program history. Iowa won 85 games over a 10-year span during O'Keefe's career, including two Big titles and 10 bowl appearances. He also served as quarterbacks coach, guiding some of the great Hawkeye signalcallers like Banks, Drew Tate, and Ricky Stanzi. Now in his first season as an NFL coach, O'Keefe is able to draw on his experience at Iowa to help him at the professional level. "It did help prepare us well for the NFL because of how Kirk ran the program," O'Keefe said. "It's similar to the way things are done in the NFL. The same approaches, practice, and how we do things carried over down here (in Miami)." O'Keefe saw the speed of the game increase when he moved to the NFL, but believes football at any level comes down to execution. "The learning curve is there on a daily basis," O'Keefe said. "The pace is extremely rapid and the 13

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