Despite criminal charge back home, Duke hires former interim Big Ten head coach

Gerad Parker, Purdue’s interim head coach for six games last season, has joined Duke’s football coaching staff as an offensive assistant.
Gerad Parker, Purdue’s interim head coach for six games last season, has joined Duke’s football coaching staff as an offensive assistant. AP

Duke has added someone with Big Ten head coaching experience in a position that doesn’t even allow on-field coaching.

Yes, there’s a backstory.

Gerad Parker, who coached the final six games of Purdue’s season on an interim basis last fall, has joined Duke coach David Cutcliffe’s staff as a football operations assistant for offense.

“We really are thrilled,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s going to be able to do the things that an offense assistant does with film and breakdown of opponents. It’s great to have that kind of experience, a guy who has been an interim head coach and a very accomplished offensive assistant.”

The 36-year-old Parker is available for this type of job because he’s facing criminal charges following a drunk driving arrest last Feb. 21. According to information posted on his Twitter account following the arrest, Parker said he was out with his wife and friends and believed he wasn’t beyond the legal limit to drive in Indiana.

But court records show West Lafayette, Indiana, police stopped Parker at 11:30 p.m. as he drove the wrong way down a one-way street. He was charged with a misdemeanor for operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent but below .15.

Parker was jailed and released on bond. His jury trial was scheduled to begin Thursday but has been pushed back with a new date pending, according to court records.

“Everybody has made mistakes,” Cutcliffe said. “This is one I felt very strongly about. This was an outlier. There are trends. There are people that have issues. He’s not one of those. I have zero concern. I know he’s comfortable with it, and I’m comfortable with it, that as we move forward that will not be any issue whatsoever.”

Parker, who played at Kentucky and previously coached collegiately at Kentucky, Marshall and Tennessee-Martin, was at Purdue for four seasons, first as tight ends coach and later as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. Duke assistant head coach Jim Bridge, in his second season at Duke, was on Purdue’s staff with Parker prior to coming to Durham.

After Purdue fired head coach Darrell Hazell midway through last season, the Boilermakers lost all six games with Parker as their interim coach. When Jeff Brohm was hired as Purdue’s new head coach, he replaced the previous staff, including Parker.

Cincinnati hired Parker as its running backs coach in January, but Parker left the Bearcats in February intending to join East Carolina’s staff as wide receivers coach for Pirates head coach Scottie Montgomery, a former Duke player and assistant coach.

Following his arrest, ECU rescinded the job offer, leaving Parker, a married father of three daughters, unemployed.

Parker set about traveling to college campuses to visit coaching friends. Cutcliffe had never met Parker, but received a call from a mutual friend that Parker was interested in visiting Duke. Cutcliffe took the meeting.

“We sat and talked,” Cutcliffe said, “and had a really, really great visit. I could just tell in conversation that he had the same values in coaching and approach. I had heard nothing but great things about him. I absolutely was overly impressed.”

So when an opening came available on the Duke staff, Cutcliffe offered it to Parker.

Parker has been staying with Bridge and is in the process of moving his family to Durham.

Current NCAA rules only allow teams to have nine full assistant coaches who can recruit off campus and work with players on the field. Parker’s role doesn’t include those privileges.

But Cutcliffe will have an opportunity to elevate Parker to a full assistant role after this season. The NCAA passed legislation last April allowing schools to add a 10th full assistant coach this January.

Cutcliffe, though, said he has no set deal with Parker to get that job after this season.

“I’m not speculating anything there,” Cutcliffe said. “I think what you have to do is get through the season and see, with your staff, where it all lies.”

Parker is one of four additions to Duke’s staff since the end of last season. The Blue Devils also hired 2013 ECU graduate Andrew Parham (assistant director of information technology), 2011 N.C. Central graduate Justin Manning (football operations assistant for defense) and Corey Beck (graduate assistant coach for offense).

Beck graduated from Purdue in May after spending four years on the Boilermakers staff as an undergraduate assistant where he worked alongside Bridge and Parker.

Also, Duke has promoted Adam Barkley to director of football information technology.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC