After a lengthy search, Tim Lester is the person Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz chose as the Hawkeyes‘ next offensive coordinator.
Lester spent the 2023 season as an analyst with the Green Bay Packers. Before that, Lester served as Western Michigan’s head coach from 2017-22. During his run with the Broncos, Western Michigan’s offense finished as one of the nation’s top-40 scoring offenses in five of his six seasons at the helm. WMU also ranked inside the nation’s top 35 total offenses in four of his six seasons.
The Broncos were the nation’s No. 16 total offense in 2020 and the No. 12 total offense in 2021. Western Michigan averaged 41.7 points per game in 2020 to rank as the country’s No. 9 scoring offense.
Lester will meet with the Iowa media at 1:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday, but he joined the Voice of the Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin, for an exclusive interview beforehand.
For those that want to listen, here’s everything Lester had to say with Dolphin on the “Fight For Iowa” podcast about taking over as Iowa’s new offensive coordinator. Lester’s full remarks are also included below.
The flexibility he will have to turn Iowa's offense into one of the Big Ten's best
“Well, I think it still starts with running the ball. I think every offense lives and breathes, even some of the wide open, spread offenses that you see across the country, make no mistake about it, they run the ball. So, we have to find ways to run the ball. It’s exciting because of the success they’ve had running the ball. Our job is to make sure that that running game turns into explosive plays. One leads to the other. We’ll have a system of running the ball first and then making sure that we have a chance to be explosive offensively.”
Successfully building, retaining a roster in the NIL, transfer portal era
“Yeah, you know, it takes a whole program and it takes the recruiting department, it takes coach Ferentz and his approach. I think the biggest thing is you want people that want to be here. Right, I mean that’s what you’re looking for as a head coach, as an offensive coordinator, but you’ve got to be able to put a product out there that people want to be a part of. That’s important.
“Running the offense we’re going to run, obviously I just spent last year in Green Bay and running one of the multiple variations of Shanahan’s offense there. You see it all over the NFL right now and they all run it a little differently, but the DNA is the same of running the ball, creating explosive pass plays. Hopefully, if you’re doing those things, people want to come be a part of that. There’s probably a 70% chance if they get to play on Sundays, they’re going to be running a version of the same thing. It seems like they’re getting every year there’s a couple more offenses that are running a version of it, so hopefully that will help people want to be here and we’ll have fun when they get here.”
How Aaron Jones helped the Packers' passing game
“Yeah, I mean, we were the youngest team in the history of the NFL playoffs. Every single tight end we had was a rookie. We had two sophomore wide outs and the rest were rookies, and obviously Jordan Love was playing his first year as a starter. And they all got better as the season went on, our pass game got more efficient as the season went on, but when Aaron Jones came back from injury, it went.
“And we were one of the top five offenses in the NFL the last 10 games and it did coincide with getting our running back back. Give tons of credit to how those guys executed down the stretch, but that’s the key to the whole thing. I thought our O-line did a good job. We were banged up and just got better as the season went on and it was a lot of new on offense. Obviously, it’s going to be a lot of new on offense here in Iowa, so we’re excited to get to work.”
What a balanced offense looks like
“You know, I think a 50/50 split is the goal. I’ve called enough games. I mean, I’ve been calling games since right when I got out of playing and I’ve had a game where I’ve called 70 passes and I’ve had a game where I’ve called 70 runs. So, you really have to be able to adjust. The plan is always 50/50.
“Depending on how explosive we are in the pass game or how efficient we are in the run game, as the game goes on, you make adjustments and I think that’s the key to being a successful play-caller is being able to adjust. But, going into the game, 50/50 is always a good number and then you kinda lean toward the things that are working. But, you never abandon anything and you’ve got to have both. Having one thing in this day and age of college football as good as these defenses are, you have to be efficient in everything and I think that’s something that we have a chance to be really good at.”
What convinced him Iowa was the next logical step in his career
“You know, it was between being an NFL quarterback coach and having a chance to work for coach Ferentz, which being from Chicago, a lot of my really good friends went to school here. My sister is a graduate of Iowa. She’s been a nurse for I want to say 27 years now, so I came down here to visit her. I came down here for graduation and I don’t know if you guys remember Matt Bowen, but I played T-ball with him and I’ve known him for a very long time. So, a lot of connections to this place and the coaching staff and everything I’ve heard about what it is to work here and be a part of this football program. That was just too great of an opportunity to pass up.”
Follow Josh on X: @JoshOnREF