Two coaches who already know what it is like to a win a football game at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium are the newest members of the Hawkeye coaching staff.
North Dakota State offensive coordinator and running backs coach Tim Polasek and Northern Illinois wide receivers and special teams coach Kelton Copeland were named Tuesday to fill the two existing vacancies on Iowa’s offensive staff.
Both were on the coaching staffs of visiting teams which knocked off the Hawkeyes at home in recent seasons — Polasek last season when the Bison won 23-21 at Iowa and both Polasek and Copeland in 2013 when the Huskies earned a 30-27 victory at Kinnick Stadium.
Polasek will become the Hawkeyes’ offensive line coach while Copeland will coach receivers, a position he coached last season after coaching running backs from 2013-15 at Northern Illinois. Copeland also worked as the Huskies' special teams coordinator.
"We are excited to add two extremely successful individuals who have worked in highly competitive programs to our staff,'' Ferentz said in a statement announcing the hires.
"Tim has been involved in programs that have won at a very high level, earning a reputation as a great teacher and an individual who has established great relationships with his co-workers and players. Kelton, much like Tim, has been an assistant coach who has played a key role in the success of the programs he has been involved with.''
Iowa had openings in both areas as part of a restructuring of its offensive staff following the retirement of coordinator Greg Davis, the promotion of line coach Brian Ferentz to replace Davis and the decision to not renew the contracts of receivers coach Bobby Kennedy and running backs and special teams coach Chris White.
Ferentz said earlier this month his objectives as he interviewed potential candidates centered more on finding coaches who would benefit Iowa beyond a narrowly-focused area of expertise.
“Certainly their professional expertise is important, but how they get along with everybody, how they work with everybody is critical. That’s all part of the evaluation. That’s all part of the puzzle and I’ve got an open mind whether it is experience, age, all those kinds of things,’’ Ferentz said.
“You have certain parameters you might be working in, certain balances you like to keep, but the ultimate goal is to get the three guys who can help us move forward the best and that’s what we’re setting out to do.’’
He said Tuesday the hiring of Polasek and Copeland add "vibrant personalities'' to the Hawkeye staff.
Ferentz filled the first of the three available spots earlier this month, naming longtime Iowa offensive coordinator and recent Miami Dolphins assistant Ken O’Keefe as the Hawkeyes’ quarterbacks coach.
After hiring O’Keefe, who spent 13 seasons as the Hawkeyes’ offensive coordinator, Ferentz said it was likely his ensuing hires would be names perhaps not as familiar to Iowa fans.
The work of Polasek and Copeland, however, did leave an impression on at least two Saturdays at Kinnick Stadium.
Polasek coached an offense which rushed for 239 yards against Iowa last season, positioning North Dakota State to win on a last-second field goal.
The prior two years, he built his offense around the skills of quarterback Carson Wentz and a power-based rushing attack, leading to teams which won Football Championship Subdivision national titles.
A field goal in the final seconds also decided Northern Illinois’ win at Iowa in 2013, a game which saw the Huskies pile up 438 yards.
Jordan Lynch threw for 275 yards that day, complementing the work of a ground game which included the work of Polasek-coached tight ends and fullbacks and the running backs coached by Copeland.
A job at Iowa would be the first with a power-five program for both Polasek, 37, and Copeland, 36, both former quarterbacks of small-college football programs who have worked their way through the coaching ranks.
Polasek played at Concordia (Wis.), where he is the all-time leading passer for the NCAA Division III program.
He coached for three seasons at Wisconsin-Stevens Point, spending time with defensive backs, wide receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks and special teams before joining the North Dakota State staff as a graduate assistant in 2006.
Polasek worked there before and after his one season at Northern Illinois, returning as offensive coordinator and running backs coach in 2014.
Copeland, a Miami native, was a three-year captain as a quarterback at NCAA Division II Emporia State, where he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant working with linebackers in 2003.
He coached receivers at Emporia State in 2004-05 and coached safeties on an NCAA Division II playoff team at Northwood in 2006.
Copeland was a secondary and receivers coach at Coffeyville Community College from 2007-10 and spent two years as the wide receivers coach at South Dakota before joining the staff at Northern Illinois.