Embattled Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz has signed a revised one-year contract for the 2023 season, the university announced Monday. Ferentz's new deal includes a salary cut and a set of performance incentives he must reach to return in 2024, putting at least some public pressure for the unit to improve.
For Ferentz to return to his previous two-year rolling contract, the Hawkeyes must reach a mere 25 points per game -- by any means, including defense and special teams -- in 2023. Additionally, the Hawkeyes must reach seven wins, which includes a potential bowl game. Ferentz accepted a $50,000 salary decrease to $850,000 for the season. If Ferentz fails to meet either of the two incentives, his contract will officially terminate on June 30, 2024.
Calling the incentives manageable is an understatement. Outside of the 2020 pandemic season, Iowa has not won fewer than seven games in a full season since 2012. The 25 points per game mark would have ranked No. 85 nationally in 2022, tied with Butch Jones' 3-9 Arkansas State squad. If Iowa's offense reaches those meager standards, Ferentz will get a raise to $925,000 and a bonus of $112,500 that would push his 2024 salary past the $1 million mark.
While the new contract for Ferentz sets a lackluster bar, it does for the first time put legitimate pressure on Ferentz to perform at least a little. Ferentz, the son of longtime Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, has worked on his father's staff since 2012 and coordinated the offense since 2017. In 2022, the unit tanked, ranking ahead of only New Mexico in total offense. The Hawkeyes ranked No. 123 at 17.7 points per game, bolstered by a defense that led the nation with six defensive touchdowns and added two safeties. (As a result, the Hawkeyes offense technically scored just 14.15 points per game.)
Ferentz was elevated to quarterbacks coach in 2022 after leading tight ends for the past four seasons and produced one of the worst passing offenses in the nation. The Hawkeyes mustered just 156.7 yards passing per game, which led only Rutgers among Power Five teams.
The elder Ferentz defended his son during his National Signing Day press conference, pointing out that the Hawkeyes are 55-3 when scoring at least 24 points over the last several years.
"I worked for a guy for nine years who there was never a coordinator fired his during my nine years with Coach [Hayden] Fry," Kirk Ferentz told reporters. "I'm not planning on doing it. I haven't done it."
However, the pressure from above has clearly impacted the Hawkeyes' process. In addition to Ferentz's new contract, Iowa added five transfers, all on the offensive side of the ball, after adding just two offensive transfers over the three previous recruiting classes. Iowa added two quarterbacks to try to revamp the offense, including Cade McNamara, who won a Big Ten championship with Michigan.
"I have no reason to think there's anybody on our staff that's not competent or not working at it," Ferentz continued. "So what can we do? And the review process of the whole program is starting Monday, but obviously evaluate your staff all the time. That's part of my job."
After the embarrassing 2022 offense, however, the decision might be out of his hands.