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Iowa assistant coach Reese Morgan, who has been on Ferentz's staff since 2000, discusses his boss' approach on the way to a school-record 144 wins. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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A giant in Iowa football — both in the high school and college ranks — is hanging up his legendary whistle.

Reese Morgan announced his retirement on Wednesday through the University of Iowa.

Morgan, who will turn 69 in June, has spent the past 19 years as an assistant coach under Kirk Ferentz. Before that, he was an iconic high school coach at Benton Community and Iowa City West. In October, he was named by the Register as one of the 50 greatest high school coaches in state history.

Ferentz has often joked (well, half-joked) that his biggest mistake upon being hired as the Hawkeyes’ head coach before the 1999 season was waiting until his second year to bring Morgan onto his staff. While at Iowa, Morgan did a little bit — make that a lot — of everything.

He’s been recruiting coordinator and coached tight ends, offensive line and — most recently — defensive line.

"A genuine and authentic person, Reese handled every challenge we threw his way in magnificent fashion. Every player and coach who had the opportunity to work with Reese Morgan is much better for it," Ferentz said. "It's like losing a great player — Reese's shoes will be hard to fill."

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Kelvin Bell, Iowa’s recruiting coordinator who assisted Morgan on the defensive line, would be the natural choice to succeed Morgan as defensive line coach. He’ll at least take the Hawkeyes through spring practice in that interim role, the university release said. Ferentz will have to make an assistant-coach hire, though, at some point.

Beyond football X’s and O’s, Morgan was known for his relationships. He was widely respected in every high school coach’s office in the state. He was a tireless recruiter who had a knack for finding under-recruited guys who made it big — Chad Greenway and Josey Jewell became just two of the dozens of “Reese Morgan finds” during his 19 years.

Off the field, Morgan became a father figure and high-character role model for hundreds of athletes that came through the program.

His fingerprints are all over Iowa football. While he will be missed, he won't be forgotten.

"My wife, Jo, and our family have been so supportive over all these years allowing me to enjoy the sport that I love," Morgan said. "I can never thank them enough. Now it is time for me to give back to them." 

 

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