In the world of college football recruiting, there are scholarship offers and then there are scholarship “offers.”
Some programs send out way more (verbal) offers — especially to prospects who are two, three or even four years away from completing high school — than others. Programs can only sign 25 prospects in a class (though there are ways around that figure — hello oversigning!) and have 85 scholarship players at a time, so they obviously can’t sign every prospect with an “offer,” meaning some kids get turned away if they attempt to commit.
Brian Ferentz, the new offensive coordinator at Iowa (and head coach Kirk Ferentz’s son), isn’t necessarily a fan of that approach. He won’t offer a kid unless he is completely sure the prospect is one the Hawkeyes would be willing to sign. In a podcast interview with the Des Moines Register, Ferentz was critical — without naming names — of the staffs at Iowa State and Minnesota for the way they give out offers.
“What has sped things up (in recruiting) in our state, especially, is the guys in Ames and then the new guys in Minneapolis seem to have no problem really throwing early things (offers) out,” Ferentz said. “And what I’ve learned — certainly about the guys in Ames, and I think we’ll find this about the guys in Minneapolis — is what does an offer really mean? I can tell you this much: If the University of Iowa offers you a scholarship and you commit to us, we intend to sign you. And we intend to take your commitment.
“I think you have to look no further than in-state, to see there were a lot of offers in the 2018 class that went out very early out of Ames. And I’m not sure all those guys were able to commit to them if they wanted to, because some of those guys have since gone other places.
“We took a little bit of flak for not being out early. We weren’t sure about some of those guys and how they would fit and if it was the right opportunity for both sides. We didn’t want to do anything that we would have to change our mind about later. So I think you’re going to see things speed up, but we have to be sure before we do something.”
(The Ferentz interview begins around the 17-minute mark. The recruiting conversation begins around 28:15.)
Ferentz, who was Iowa’s offensive line coach for the past five seasons before being promoted to coordinator, makes a valid point about offering committable scholarships (Hawkeye Report’s Tom Kakert offers good perspective on some of the prospects Ferentz may have been alluding to and the recruiting landscape in the state), but that’s just part of the recruiting game these days. Iowa State and Minnesota hired Matt Campbell and P.J. Fleck in part because of their recruiting ability. Both programs have been more aggressive with doling out offers under these new regimes, and their strategies have paid off. There’s more to it than just early offers, but it’s certainly part of the equation.
Ferentz can gripe about it all he wants, but it won’t go away.
On top of Iowa State and Minnesota, Ferentz didn’t mince words when talking about the supposed “NFL pipeline” at Nebraska.
“A lot of new staffs are selling kids on hope,” Ferentz said. “They hope to win. They hope to graduate guys. They hope to have former players go on and play in the National Football League. They hope to develop guys, because they’ve never done it. You watch the draft and it always amazes me all the guys that (say) ‘Congratulations to so and so,’ and they never even coached the guy. They didn’t develop them, but they’re quick to take credit for it.
“We recruit against a couple schools that talk about their pipeline. I’m thinking of one a little bit west of Omaha that talks about their pipeline. I think they’ve had like two guys drafted in two years, so I’m not sure how much of the pipeline the coaches have contributed to. But perception is reality in recruiting, so you work against that a little bit.”
For the record, Nebraska has had five players drafted in the past two years — four in 2016 and one this year. That total is the same as Iowa, which had four players selected this year and one in 2016. But hey, those are just facts.
For more Iowa news, visit HawkeyeReport.com.
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