Ken O'Keefe

Iowa offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe, Friday Aug. 7, 2009, during media day activities. (John Schultz / Quad-City Times)

John Schultz

A change of scenery five years ago was probably the best thing for Ken O'Keefe and Iowa football fans.

At that point, O'Keefe was 13 years on the job as the Hawkeyes' offensive coordinator and although James Vandenberg threw for 3,022 yards that season, late-season losses to Michigan State, Nebraska and Oklahoma in the Insight Bowl — all rated opponents — left fans wanting more.

O'Keefe left for an opportunity to reunite with former Hawkeye assistant Joe Philbin, working as the receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins and Iowa fans were introduced to a different approach on offense that Greg Davis brought with him from Texas.

Five years later, O'Keefe finds himself making another move.

It's the right time and right place.

His hiring as the new quarterbacks coach at Iowa is a solid choice and couldn't come at a better time.

O'Keefe built a reputation as a solid teacher of the game and his work with young quarterbacks settling into roles as new starters was a strength during his tenure on Kirk Ferentz's staff.

Brad Banks won 11 games as a first-year starter in 2002.

Nathan Chandler won 10 the following season.

In 2004, Drew Tate stepped into the starting role and delivered a 10-win season.

O'Keefe, who coached receivers for four years in Miami before being shifted to a research analyst role with the Dolphins last season, will get the chance to work with a group of quarterbacks hoping to earn the starting role at Iowa this fall.

In Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers, he has two candidates who gained limited experience in the past two seasons as a back-up to C.J. Beathard.

In Drew Cook and Ryan Schmidt, he has a pair of sophomores looking to climb the depth chart.

In the fall, freshman Peyton Mansell will be added to the mix.

All bring something a little different to the table and O'Keefe will be tasked with sorting through it all.

Beyond four decades of experience in working with quarterbacks, O'Keefe will likely help Iowa craft a passing game more compatible with its zone read blocking scheme.

Davis' approach with the pass never truly meshed with the traditional strength of the Hawkeye attack.

While Brian Ferentz in his new role of offensive coordinator will be calling plays, the return of O'Keefe likely signals a return of the ball to the middle of the field for Iowa more frequently in the passing game.

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More slants. More posts. More digs.

More balls to the tight ends over the middle.

Those things worked in concert with the Hawkeyes' power run game during O'Keefe's earlier tenure in Iowa City.

It's likely he's picked up a few things along the way in Miami that will benefit him and Iowa moving forward as well.

Equally important, O'Keefe will be an office door or two away from Brian Ferentz as he adjusts to his new expanded role and that chance to gain from O'Keefe's game-planning and play-calling expertise is something that should only help the development of the Hawkeyes' new offensive coordinator.

In many ways, it's no different than when Kirk Ferentz hired coaching veterans Carl Jackson and Norm Parker to be part of his first staff at Iowa.

They brought not only expertise to the field, but to the staff.

O'Keefe will have a chance to share that same type of knowledge not only with returning Iowa assistants but with the assistant coaches who will be hired in upcoming days to fill two additional vacancies on the Hawkeye staff.

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