IOWA Magazine | 03-22-2024

Tim Lester, Iowa Football’s New Offensive Coordinator, Gets to Work

4 minute read
Lester, a former collegiate quarterback, hopes to use his more than two decades of coaching experience to jumpstart Iowa’s offense.
Tim Lester PHOTO: HAWKEYESPORTS.COM Iowa's new offensive coordinator Tim Lester speaks earlier this year at an introductory press conference.

There are more questions than answers surrounding the Iowa offense heading into the 2024 football season. Tim Lester, who started as Iowa’s new offensive coordinator on Jan. 31, is busy reimagining what the Iowa offense will look like this fall.

“Everything will be new—from the way we name plays to the players and cadences,” says Lester who has more than 20 years experience as a head coach and offensive coordinator. “The guys have been great, and they’ve been eager to learn.”

Hawkeye fans will get a first look at the team during the Saturday, April 20, spring practice at Kinnick Stadium. We caught up with Lester to learn more about him and what Iowa football fans can expect this fall.

First off, what made Iowa a desirable coaching spot for you?

During the offseason, I had two college and two NFL coaching opportunities in front of me—but there were a lot of reasons why Iowa was a good fit. I’ve always had an affinity for Iowa. My sister, Cori Lester (97BSN), went to nursing school here, and being from the Chicago area, I’ve been to Iowa City a few times. Working with head coach Kirk Ferentz was also a big draw. We really hit it off when we first started talking, and I got really excited about the opportunity here.

How do you envision improving the offense’s efficiency this season and putting more points on the scoreboard?

I told the players this the first time I met them—anything that happened in the past has zero impact on the Iowa offense moving forward. It doesn’t matter if it was good, bad, or indifferent. Everything is new now—a clean slate.

What I can tell you is that we’re going to run the ball, have an efficient pass game, and be aggressive. Whether you want to go fast or use a huddle, you still need some kind of deception that the defense has to catch up to—a shift or a motion. We’re getting the guys used to that. That’s one thing I learned last year with the Green Bay Packers as senior analyst. You can throw the starting formation out the window because it’s going to morph and change. The Kansas City Chiefs and Detroit Lions do a great job of that—getting the defense’s eyes in places they shouldn’t be.

How do you go about getting an accurate representation of what’s worked and what’s not worked offensively—especially with returning quarterback Cade McNamara out until closer to the first game of the season?

Everyone is a rookie on our side, and we’re all learning together. It’s a lot of fun. Spring football will be huge for us to see how the guys are reacting to what we’re doing. Cade will still be recovering, so we will go through a similar process again this summer. There will be good days and bad days, but we will keep investing our time and energy to get it right.

You were a quarterback at Western Michigan University—throwing for more than 11,000 yards during your career. How does your playing experience shape how you think about the game and how you call a game?

Having played quarterback and calling some plays in college, you certainly have a different perspective. When you’ve sat in the pocket and ran plays, I think that helps you connect with quarterbacks better. I’m excited to work with our quarterbacks and get back to calling plays again.

You’ve worked as both an offensive coordinator and head coach. Can you talk about how the relationship between a head coach and offensive coordinator works?

It all depends on the head coach. Coach Ferentz—from the get-go—told me that he loves to be in the room and throw his two cents in. He’s been in most of the meetings, and I’ve given him playbook pages to see what we’re doing. He’s been excited, and we’re running something that he’s definitely interested in.

What are your favorite moments from coaching?

You always remember the big games and the big wins. And as a head coach, there are two wins that I’m still proud of to this day.

When I was at Division III Elmhurst College, we beat top 10 perennial power Wheaton College. We had to execute perfectly, and we did that day. In 2021, when I was at Western Michigan, we beat eventual ACC champion Pittsburgh. We went there and played a great game. Those are great memories—doing things that people think you can’t do—and then to see the guys celebrate on the field. Those are special memories for me.

Beyond football, what do you enjoy doing?

I have four kids, and when I’m not chasing them around and watching their various sporting events, golf is my favorite pastime. I get to play about six weeks a year, and I always look forward to it.

Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
Join our email list
Get the latest news and information for alumni, fans, and friends of the University of Iowa.
Related Articles

We use cookies to understand how you use our site and to improve your experience. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies in accordance with our Privacy Statement unless you have disabled them in your browser.