The Hawkeyes landed another recruit last week, the latest big get in what appears to be a successful recruiting season. Ten sentences to think this through:
1. Last week Iowa football’s recruiting apparatus went into Nebraska, targeted a player whose dad played for the Huskers, and came back home with a new wide receiver.
2. Without making too a big a deal over where Keagan Johnson grew up, or who is father is, it’s clear that this was the latest sign of how strong Iowa’s reputation is right now as a football program.
3. We already know Iowa coaches, the athletic department, and some within its fan base hold self-defeatest (some would say “realistic”) lowa recruiting expectations; despite the demographic advantages and similarities between the states of Iowa, Alabama, and South Carolina, not to mention the structural similarities between schools like the University of Iowa, University of Alabama, and Clemson University, the Hawkeyes and the Hawkeye state will never be like those schools.
4. It took me a few years of hemming and hawing before I gave up and chose to accept Iowa’s self-image problem: “Aw shucks, we’re just Iowa, give us your 2-star athletes, your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, maybe an occasional 3-star.”
5. But, whatever, we can only play the cards we’re dealt, and so we accept that Kirk Ferentz and his staff view themselves as the homely kids from the 1980s teen movies who don’t realize they’re actually one of the smartest, coolest kids in school, but unlike those movies, in which they undergo a makeover and a musical-montage transformation to reach the top, Ferentz and Company have nearly perfected their formula to reach pretty-goodedness: great coaching of good recruits, strong culture, and a killer weight regimen.
6. Right now the Hawkeyes are in an upswing, landing what is on paper one of the best recruiting classes of the Ferentz era.
7. We have no idea how the recruiting classes will actually shake out, whether there will even be college football this fall, or how it will look to start the 2021 season a year-and-a-half from now, but to see Ferentz and his staff working so hard to grab and keep recruits is to see them rewarded for all of the hard work they have put in not just the last few years, but the last 20.
8. Of course recent success matters – a lot – both in terms of the standings as well as the NFL Draft; three first-rounders (Tristan Wirfs, T.J. Hockenson, Noah Fant) and three second-rounders (A.J. Epenesa, James Daniels, Josh Jackson) over the last three drafts, while not on the level of the more successful, more confident Southeastern Conference-slash-Ohio State teams, is still a pretty good stock portfolio to be able to attract perspective clients.
9. Since 2000, the Hawkeyes rank 18th in the country in having their players selected in the NFL Draft, which is awesome considering there are 130 FBS teams, and one has to think Iowa’s athletic program, through its recruiting and other marketing efforts, makes sure potential recruits know that.
10. Wherever Iowa’s recruiting class ends up – seventh, first, 19th, 25th – the Hawkeyes should rest easy knowing that their success is well-earned, the product of two decades of creating, honing, and sticking to a coaching and teaching philosophy that created a tradition of consistent pretty-goodedness, with occasional bouts of greatness.
* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.