Why Iowa Is Having Its Problems in College Football Recruiting

Adam Jacobi@Adam_JacobiBig Ten Football Lead WriterJanuary 30, 2013

IOWA CITY, IOWA - OCTOBER 20:  Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes runs off the field following the first half against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 20, 2012 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Penn State defeated Iowa 38-14. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Looking at 247Sports.com's Big Ten list of composite team recruiting rankings for 2013, Iowa is near the bottom at 10th. No 4-star recruits dot the list; S Delano Hill de-committed for Michigan and DE David Kenney backed out to commit to Indiana, while LB Trevon Young, a recent commit and the top prospect in Iowa, had his offer pulled after multiple brushes with the law over the past year.

That's a pretty bleak recruiting landscape for the Hawkeyes, and while ranking recruits is not an exact science on the micro level, it's certainly instructive on a macro level, and the inescapable conclusion is that this is a relatively weak class as a whole.

So how did Iowa, with its four 10-win seasons over the last decade and highly-paid head coach in Kirk Ferentz, get to this level?

First of all, there's the obvious point: Iowa was not a good football team in 2012. The Hawkeyes finished off the year with six straight losses and a 4-8 record, the worst under Kirk Ferentz since his first two rebuilding years on campus. The offense was a horror show under first-year coordinator Greg Davis, ranking a catastrophic 114th in the nation in total yards and 111th in scoring. That is a fantastic way to scare off a recruit who's looking for a little excitement in his football.

Second, according to this nice (if a little overzealously marked-up) breakdown from a poster on HawkeyeNation.com, Iowa is historically a borderline top 40 recruiting program, nationally—and rarely breaks into the top 25. This is due to, among several other things, a generally light level of talent in the state of Iowa on a year-to-year basis. Nick Saban himself couldn't pick up enough talent from the state of Iowa to put a consistently competitive team on the field. And Iowa's not even the only BCS-conference team calling the state home.

Still, Iowa's not exactly aggressive when it comes to offering top-level talent. Per 247Sports.com's list of Iowa offers, the Hawkeyes offered 45 prospects that were a 4-star or better on either 247Sports.com's service or its composite scores (which average in Rivals, Scout, and ESPN ratings for the same players). Forty-five sounds decent on its own, but then consider that Nebraska offered 129 such players. Ohio State offered 115 of them. Heck, Illinois offered 91. 

It also doesn't help that the uncertainty surrounding the Iowa staff's makeup is affecting recruiting. Despite no official word of their departures from the athletic department—always a great sign, that—WR coach Erik Campbell is evidently gone from Iowa, per The Gazette. If Iowa has a successor in mind, recruits aren't aware. Here's this from Monday on HawkCentral.com:

Brian Lemelle made a verbal commitment to Connecticut on Monday, according to the Hartford Courant. His commitment came less than 24 hours after Lemelle returned from a recruiting visit to the University of Iowa.

Lemelle spoke highly about his visit to Iowa City to Hawkeye Report.com, but he also said he was concerned about Iowa not having a receivers coach at the present time.

Erik Campbell has reportedly resigned as the Iowa receivers coach, although, it hasn’t been confirmed other than Campbell acknowledging well-wishers on Twitter a few weeks ago.

Obviously, something needs to change here. If recruiting is a priority at Iowa, it's certainly not evident in the way the Hawkeyes have gone about putting this class together. Yes, the only thing that matters is the record and that happens Saturdays in the fall, but the guys who'll be playing on those Saturdays have to get wooed during the offseason, and on that front Iowa's just not competing.