The University of Iowa confirmed that retired Hawkeye defensive coordinator Norm Parker died today at University Hospitals in Iowa City. Parker was a native of Hazel Park, Michigan who came to Iowa with head coach Kirk Ferentz in 1999 and retired at the end of the 2011 season.
Ferentz released a statement saying: “Norm played a major and key role in any on the field success we experienced during his 13 years as our defensive coordinator. More important and valuable, is the strong and positive impact that he had on our players, staff, support staff and fans – everyone he interfaced with during his 15 years in Iowa. Norm was an excellent football coach. Beyond that, he was a tremendous spouse, father and cherished friend to many.”
Parker was 72 and is survived by his wife Linda, four children and six grandchildren. Parker was preceded in death by his first wife, Ginger, and son, Jeffrey. Funeral arrangements are pending in Michigan. There will be a memorial service in Iowa City at a later date.
Hawkeye athletic director Gary Barta released this statement: “Norm Parker was one of my all-time favorite people and coaches. “He was a brilliant defensive coordinator, and his players loved him. He knew how to win football games, but more importantly, he knew how to make you feel good and to laugh. He will truly be missed.”
Parker was a coach for 48 years. Following 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.
Under Parker’s direction, Iowa ranked among the top 10 nationally in rushing defense five times. Iowa ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense three times from 2008-11. In 2010, Iowa was fifth nationally in total defense (332.1), sixth in rushing defense (101.5) and seventh in scoring defense (17.0).
The Hawkeyes were bowl eligible 11 straight seasons (2001-11) and ranked in the final top 10 of both major polls four times with Parker directing the Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes won bowl games following the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons, defeating South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Missouri, respectively. Overall, Iowa won six of 10 bowl games from 2001-11, including four January bowl games.
Iowa won 85 games from 2002-11, including 50 Big Ten games. The Hawkeyes earned a share of the Big Ten title in both 2002 and 2004 and tied for second in 2009.
Parker began coaching on the collegiate level at Eastern Michigan in 1968 after beginning his coaching career in the high school ranks for three seasons. He also coached at Wake Forest, Minnesota, Illinois, East Carolina, Michigan State and Vanderbilt.