In this multi-part series of articles, I will discuss the effects of Kirk Ferentz to Iowa football. I will talk about the good and the bad of Ferentz. I also will talk about the future of Iowa with Ferentz at the helm and if Iowa is better or worse with him as the coach in the future.
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been criticized a lot lately but no one can dispute that Iowa football would ever be as big as it is now without Ferentz. Kirk Ferentz IS Iowa football.
Ferentz has an all-time record of 108-79, or a .578 winning percentage, which isn’t that great. But, if his first two seasons are taken off, his record goes to 104-60, or .634. That means that he has averaged 8.2 wins per season. Winning 8 games per season is pretty solid, especially at a school with so many disadvantages compared to big time programs.
Iowa does not have very fertile recruiting grounds. The state of Iowa is lucky to have one four star prospect a year. Then if they do have one, they have to battle with in-state rivals Iowa State for their services, not counting Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio State, and other big schools for their services if they are good enough.
So since Iowa’s high school recruits aren’t good enough to build a successful program, they have to go out of state. Iowa has a hard time getting those recruits because if they are really good recruits, they have to compete with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Michigan, and other powerhouses. They lose those battles almost every time because Iowa doesn’t have a whole lot they can use to attract recruits.
SEC schools can tout their conference, they can talk about the warm weather, they can talk about their storied histories, and their program’s prestige. Iowa can’t brag about the weather. Which recruit from the south would like to spend their winters in Iowa’s bitter cold? Iowa doesn’t have the brand name that Notre Dame does; they don’t have the storied history. Iowa doesn’t have a big city like Chicago or Minneapolis to attract them either. The only thing they can brag about is that they have Kirk Ferentz and his skills as a player developer.
Because the big recruits don’t find Iowa that attractive, Iowa has to scour the nation for the overlooked recruits that they can use to develop into Big Ten players. Most of Iowa’s recruiting classes are littered with two and three star recruits with a rare four star sprinkled in every once and a while. Because of talent of the recruits they get, it is crazy to think that they have averaged over 8 wins a season.
The reason why Iowa wins that much is because of Ferentz’s ability to develop talent. He takes two and three stars and turns them into NFL talent. Since 2010, Iowa has had 22 draft picks go to the NFL. Ohio State has had 23. In the past 12 seasons, Kirk Ferentz has had 49 players drafted in the NFL. That’s an astounding average of four per draft.
He has shown a talent to turn walk-ons into college and NFL stars. Dallas Clark was a walk on linebacker when Iowa moved him to tight end and he became an all-pro player. He also knows how to make position changes to help the players. Bryan Bulaga came to Iowa as a highly touted tight end, but left Iowa as a first round draft pick as an offensive tackle.
A crazy statistic found by sportsnation and blackheartgoldpants is that a two star prospect has one in 34 chance of getting drafted. At Iowa, it is one and six. A three star recruit at Iowa is three times more likely of being drafted than an average program. Iowa four star recruits have a one in four chance of being drafted.
That just shows that Iowa’s player development is absurd. Iowa would not be competitive if they had a normal coach combined with their typical batch of recruits. But they don’t have a normal coach; they have a coach who can find two star gems and develop them into stars. That’s why Iowa needs Kirk Ferentz. That’s why Kirk Ferentz IS Iowa football.