April 10, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Chris White is new to the University of Iowa football coaching staff, but he is familiar with the Hawkeye program.
White, Iowa's running backs coach and special teams coordinator since February, knew what he was getting into when he joined the Hawkeye coaching staff: He knew from firsthand experiences as an assistant coach at Syracuse University. He knew from coaching former Hawkeye linebacker Chad Greenway during a stint on the staff of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.
White's most-recent position in college coaching was at Syracuse, where he worked with wide receivers when Iowa defeated the Orangemen, 20-13, in double overtime at Syracuse in 2006, and again in 2007 when Iowa won a night game in Kinnick Stadium, 35-0.
"Iowa came to the Carrier Dome, and we had that great game; and I can remember the goal-line stand there that they had," said White. "The thing that stuck out to me about that game was the crowd. The away crowd was probably the biggest away crowd that we had at Syracuse, and it was all Iowa fans. So the people here are passionate about football. And then the next year we played here and we got whipped."
White also knows about Iowa football after coaching Greenway as a member of the Vikings staff from 2009-12. Greenway was a first-round NFL selection in 2006 and quickly made a name for himself with the Vikings, despite missing his first year because of injury. Greenway has earned a spot in the Pro Bowl following each of the past two seasons.
"Iowa came to the Carrier Dome, and we had that great game; and I can remember the goal-line stand there that they had. The thing that stuck out to me about that game was the crowd. The away crowd was probably the biggest away crowd that we had at Syracuse, and it was all Iowa fans. So the people here are passionate about football. And then the next year we played here and we got whipped."
UI assistant coach
In his first spring session with the Hawkeyes, White is working with veterans such as Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock among the returning Iowa running backs. The Iowa special teams feature senior kicker Mike Meyer and sophomore Connor Kornbrath, two players who handled all of Iowa's kicking duties in 2012.
Outside of that group, White will assist with a lot of the younger players on the Iowa roster, both at running back and on special teams.
"We have a great combination coming back with Mark and Damon," said White. "And they've bought in big time. It's been such a joy to watch both of them, and really the whole group. We're working on some things with each guy. And we have three young recruits coming in that I watched film; I think the future of the program is in pretty good hands."
Iowa has performed well on special teams throughout the tenure of head coach Kirk Ferentz. White hopes to build on that success and add to what special teams play can bring to the table for the overall team performance.
"Special teams have been kind of what I've been known for since I've been coaching," said White. "It's a different deal when you need to punt the ball back in your own end zone and get the ball out of there. There's a different feeling, butterflies going in your belly. The thing that excites me about special teams, is that they can galvanize the whole football team. I saw it happen last year at Minnesota. We went from a 3-13 team to a playoff team, and we ended up being ranked the No. 1 special teams in the NFL. The special teams here have been pretty good over the history of the program, and I think what coach Ferentz wants to do is make sure the emphasis is back to where, he always says, this is how we win here. Special teams players, the Chad Greenways of the world, they have worked their way up. We're smart, tough, disciplined and play great special teams, and that's why I'm here."
White began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1990. His experience has been on the college level for all but his four seasons with the Vikings. He is more than happy to be back in college football, and happy to be at Iowa.
"I missed college football," said White. "I left a job at the Vikings -- it was a great job. I missed the interaction with the players, the college atmosphere. I came down here and I was blown away. I've always admired this program."