Lester brings new hope, different perspective to Iowa


The Associated Press

IOWA CITY — A resume illustrating a wide range of experiences is what led coach Kirk Ferentz to hire Tim Lester as Iowa’s new offensive coordinator.

Now Lester’s task is to remodel one of the worst offenses in the country.

“In my mind, he’s a good fit for us,” Ferentz said at a news conference to introduce Lester, who was hired last week. “Similar, in a lot of ways, to the way we’ve operated, yet a lot of different perspectives, new perspectives. That’s part of moving forward, is getting different ideas, different views, and try to implement in a way we all believe will work for us.”

Lester replaces Brian Ferentz, Kirk’s son, who was informed during the Hawkeyes’ off week last October that he would be out of a job at the end of the season.

Iowa went 10-4 and won the Big Ten West but ranked last out of 133 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total offense and 132nd in scoring. The Hawkeyes, who averaged 15.4 points per game, were shut out three times, including the Big Ten championship game against Michigan and the Citrus Bowl against Tennessee.

In 2022 the Hawkeyes were 130th in total offense and averaged just 17.7 points per game.

“The one thing I know everybody wants to know is what we’re going to be about,” Lester said. “We’re going to be disciplined, and we’re going to be aggressive.”

Lester spent last season as a defensive analyst for the Green Bay Packers after serving six seasons as head coach at Western Michigan. He won 37 games at Western Michigan, and his offense ranked in the top 35 nationally in total offense four consecutive seasons but dropped to 125th in 2022.

Lester was the quarterbacks coach at Purdue in 2016 when quarterback David Blough threw for 3,352 yards. Lester was Syracuse’s quarterbacks coach from 2013-15 along with being offensive coordinator in 2014 and 2015. Syracuse’s offense ranked 13th in the 14-team ACC those two years.

Kirk Ferentz said he chose Lester from a final list of four candidates.

“When you look at Tim, and what I’ve discovered, is he’s had a wide range of experiences,” he said. “I certainly knew of Tim and was aware of his background, especially at Western Michigan. His story, I felt good about, and I was very, very impressed.”

Lester will install his offense this spring without quarterback Cade McNamara, who suffered a season-ending knee injury early last season and isn’t expected to be back on the field until either late in spring workouts or in the summer.

“We need to get the horses to the race,” Lester said. “Whenever Cade is ready to go, I’m looking forward to working with him. But there’s absolutely zero way that you can discount his experience. When you have experience in playing games, I’m very confident he’ll pick it up when it’s time, when he’s healthy, when he’s ready. If he didn’t have a ton of experience, I would be more scared, more worried.”

The Hawkeyes bring back their three top running backs in Leshon Williams, Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson. Tight end Luke Lachey, who missed most of last season with a leg injury, elected to return to Iowa instead of entering the NFL draft. Tight end Addison Ostrenga and wide receiver Kaleb Brown, two of the team’s top three receivers last season, also return.

“It’s a process, and it started a couple of days ago,” Lester said. “I’ve coached long enough that I’ve run a lot of systems. There’s a lot to choose from. I can’t wait to see what we have.”