As I posted on my Facebook wall, when working with a person for 13 years there are going to be highs and lows. But Ken O'Keefe heads to Miami with my greatest respect. He is a person who shouldered too much blame during the lows and didn't receive enough credit amid the highs. He is also a person I would trust coaching my son. I wish him the best of luck as he is reunited with old friends on South Beach.
There was a side of Coach O'Keefe many didn't see. Few saw the driven person who worked tireless hours preparing for the upcoming game. As I tweeted on December 23rd, a week before the 2011 Insight Bowl, the Iowa Offensive Coordinator was still watching video of Oklahoma, the team's opponent in the upcoming game, past 10pm. This was a week before the game, and Ken didn't treat the bowl trip as a vacation, rather it was a business trip. He took pride in being the offensive coordinator and worked tireless hours.
When around the team off the field it may be hard to pick Coach O'Keefe out as the offensive coordinator. Arriving at the team's hotel, he would be the first off the bus and the first to assist in unloading the bags from underneath. While waiting for all of the players to load into the elevators, he would be subject to small talk from others staying there. He didn't necessarily look the part of the offensive coordinator, and wouldn't talk football with these unsuspecting individuals. He could carry on a conversation with most anyone about anything other than football.
He has been successful at many different levels of football. Ken coached a national champion team at Division III Allegheny and his offenses at Iowa were part of the most successful stretch the program has ever seen. He coached a Heisman Runner-Up and Davey O'Brien winner in Brad Banks. And he followed him up with two quarterbacks who achieved leading their teams to top ten finishes as well as a Big Ten Champion with Drew Tate. Now he takes on a new challenge at the professional level. No doubt success will follow.