The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Point/Counterpoint | Was Tim Lester a good hire?

Fans have mixed emotions surrounding Iowa’s new offensive coordinator.
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Grace Smith
Iowa offensive coordinator Tim Lester speaks during a press conference at the Hansen Football Performance Center in Iowa City on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Jan. 31 that former senior analyst for the Green Bay Packers Tim Lester will serve as the next offensive coordinator for the Hawkeyes. Before his move to Iowa City, Lester held the position of head coach at Western Michigan University for six seasons and served as quarterbacks coach for both Purdue and Syracuse before his head coach title at WMU.

YES

It would quite literally be impossible for the Iowa offense to be any worse than it was in 2023.

With that being said, do I think Tim Lester was a home run hire? Not really. However, I do think it was a good hire, and fans should give Lester a fair chance.

While acting as the head coach and primary play caller at Western Michigan, Lester led the Bronco offense to four straight seasons ranked inside the top 40 in terms of scoring offense and total offense.

Iowa’s highest ranking in total offense in Brian Ferentz’s tenure as offensive coordinator was 88th in 2020, when the Hawkeyes played just eight games because of the pandemic.

Yes, the MAC is a lot less competitive than the Big Ten, but Lester’s numbers were still encouraging and showed that he is capable of being successful.

He has experience coaching quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. Plus, Lester was a four-year starter at quarterback for Western Michigan, leading the Broncos to a Mid-American Conference Championship appearance his senior season.

Iowa has lacked a real quarterbacks coach since Ken O’Keefe left in February 2022. Ferentz never played QB or had experience coaching that position when he took over as quarterbacks coach after O’Keefe’s departure. Iowa’s pass-throwers have struggled recently, with Spencer Petras and Deacon Hill probably popping into most fans’ heads.

Lester could give a much-needed, different perspective in the quarterback’s room. I expect Iowa to stick to its roots and try to wear down defenses by running the ball as much as possible, which is not a bad thing. But I also think there will be more opportunities for explosive plays under Lester if Kirk Ferentz is willing to give some leeway.

Lester reportedly turned down a job in the NFL to work with the Hawkeyes. Whether you like the numbers Lester’s offenses have put up in the past or not, it’s respectable that he is willing to risk his reputation to turn around a comically failing offense.

NO

Since the dismissal of controversial offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz in October 2023, Iowa football fans have anxiously awaited his replacement.

Former Western Michigan head coach Tim Lester’s position was revealed on Jan. 28, with the university officially announcing it three days later.

It’s certainly not the hire that fans were expecting, considering some of the other potential options. Former Duke OC Kevin Johns seemed to be the clear-cut favorite among fans and the media, but head coach Kirk Ferentz went in a different direction.

During his first offensive coordinator stint with Syracuse, Lester’s offensive numbers with the Orange were mediocre at best. In his final year in 2015, Syracuse averaged 27.3 points per game, which ranked 77th in college football.

During his six-year stint as the head coach at Western Michigan, Lester led the Broncos to the 12th-ranked offense in 2021 but regressed to 122nd during his final season.

On the flip side, Johns has a solid track record as an OC, with previous stops at Indiana, Texas Tech, Memphis, and Duke. Coincidentally, he was Lester’s offensive coordinator at Western Michigan in 2017.

At Duke, Johns was instrumental in the turnaround of the Blue Devils program and developed quarterback Riley Leonard into a star. His offense put up nearly 27 points per game in 2023 despite Leonard battling injuries for most of the year.

I don’t hate the Lester hire, but I also don’t love it. After briefly watching some tape, he presents some new looks that Iowa isn’t used to, as well as some experience working in the NFL, which is always a plus.

I feel that the elder Ferentz went the safe route on this one. Sure, Lester has a decent career, and his numbers with the Broncos were solid, but the Big Ten is a completely different animal compared to the MAC.

I think it could be another moment of déja vu for the Hawkeye offense. I hope I’m wrong, though.

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About the Contributors
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
she/her/hers
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
(he/him/his)
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
she/her/hers
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.