Prior to the start of the 2016 season, LSU coach Les Miles was asked to make an offensive identity switch. The simple move would be to fire then-coordinator Cam Cameron after failing to score more than 20 points in 4 of the last 5 games.

But Miles said he could fix the ship with Cameron. He believed that another year and a quality offseason would be enough to turn the ship around. After all, the Tigers were 9-3 and were 2 years removed from back-to-back 10-win seasons with the same offense.

Four games and a 2-2 record later, Miles and Cameron both were fired. A 12-year legacy capped off with a national title and multiple SEC championships tarnished in the blink of an eye.

And the reason?  Stubbornness. Ego. Loyalty. Close friendship, though not outright nepotism in that case.

That’s where Iowa is now with Kirk Ferentz. After yet another abysmal offensive showing from the Hawkeyes in a 54-10 loss to No. 2 Ohio State, there’s no other way to put it. Pride and partisanship not only have clipped the Hawkeyes’ chances to take flight. There’s no sense of direction moving forward.

Kirk Ferentz needs to be a coach, not a dad. It’s either Brian Ferentz — Iowa’s offensive coordinator and Kirk’s oldest son — must be fired, or both need to be shown the door. And there are no ifs, ands or buts about it anymore.

There can’t be after Saturday’s trip to Columbus. There’s low, and then there’s whatever one would call that showcase of poor play-calling and bonehead designs Brian Ferentz thought would work against a Jim Knowles’ defense that’s improving every week.

It feels impossible to think of anyone coaching in Iowa City but Kirk Ferentz. He’s the longest-tenured coach in college football. His 181 wins are a program record that won’t soon be broken.

But something has to give. Spencer Petras was benched at the start of the third quarter after throwing a pick-6 directly into the hands of OSU linebacker Tommy Eichenberg. Alex Padilla entered the game and was intercepted on his first pass attempt.

Blame the quarterbacks. Blame the scanty run game. Blame receivers for dropping balls on passes that were vastly overthrown.

It doesn’t matter. It’s the offensive play design that’s failing. And it’s been failing for months. How many? One would have to go back to 2021 to see where it all went wrong.

Neither quarterback was effective in moving the ball vertically downfield. They combined to go 11-of-24 passing for 81 yards and 3 interceptions. The offense has 6 turnovers, totaled a whopping 157 yards and went 1-of-13 on third down.

And the lone touchdown? That was on an 11-yard scoop-and-score by Joe Evans in the 1st quarter.

Again, the defense continues to make plays. Imagine if the offense had any life whatsoever.

Most people would say Iowa’s a quarterback away from running away in the B1G West. It’s easy to say since Petras can’t get worse and Padilla proved why the former is still QB1. But the biggest flaw is the puppet master pulling the strings in on offense that now ranks dead last among Power 5 schools in total yards, passing yards and scoring.

Brian Ferentz is still running the show. Damn whichever passer is delivering duds on the daily.

Nepotism at its finest

Coaches are fired regularly in-season. Paul Chryst was sent packing at Wisconsin following a loss to Illinois. Scott Frost was canned by Nebraska after losing to Georgia Southern. And coordinators such as Rutgers’ Sean Gleeson, Boise State’s Tim Plough and Nebraska’s Erik Chinander were all handed pink slips before the final month of the season.

Why? Because smart coaches understand what’s at stake if loyalty outweighs results. It’s not a “him or you” situation. It’s a “him and you” if changes aren’t made.

Brian Ferentz will make $900,000 this season for leading 1 of the worst offenses in recent Power 5 memory. The Hawkeyes have failed to reach 20 points in 10 of their past 15 games. They’ve totaled 10 points or fewer in 7 of those.

Most teams have a plan; if we can’t throw it, run it. Iowa averaged 3.4 yards passing on Saturday. They averaged 2.2 yards rushing. And as a unit? Just 2.7 yards per play.

Punish the player, not cut the coach, right Kirk?

Nepotism exists throughout life. How many people do you know who cruised on by in college just to work for their parents after receiving a piece of paper for doing the bare minimum? What’s worse is they likely will be handed the keys to the business and eventually tarnish the legacy of what was created by those who worked for a fine reputation.

College football isn’t any different. Steve Belichick stands on the sidelines in New England with his dad, Bill. Jim Harbaugh’s son, Jay, has either coached for his uncle John in Baltimore or with his father in Ann Arbor since 2012. All 3 of Dabo Swinney’s sons took roster spots at Clemson when eligible.

There are countless more stories like this out there, throughout the last century, too.

According to Ralph Russo of the Associated Press, 25 of the 65 power conference schools are employing family members of the head coach. That’s a 38% nepotism rate that could grow over time. It doesn’t seem to be waning.

Will Kirk Ferentz finally pull the trigger?

Athletic director Gary Barta has stood behind Kirk Ferentz for decades. He’s never once asked the 67-year-old to make changes or to switch up the tempo. Then again, Iowa was playing winning football, so why break the formula if it’s creating a product people are buying?

But Saturday’s loss — the worst of Kirk Ferentz’s career since facing a Nick Saban-led Michigan State roster in 1999 — must call for change. It has to if Iowa plans on actually being a threat in the B1G once divisions are removed with the arrivals of UCLA and USC in the future.

It’s a shame. Kirk Ferentz picked up where Hayden Fry left off and created a new, yet sustainable culture that made the Hawkeyes a threat in the B1G. Now, they’re a laughing stock with an offense that almost is letting the defense outscore it through 7 games.

Everyone knows what the problem is in Iowa City, but Kirk Ferentz is letting his role as Dad trump his role as coach. And at this point, someone has to step up and say something for a change.

If not, Kirk Ferentz’s legacy will forever be tarnished.

Just like Miles in Baton Rouge.