I know what some of you are thinking.
“Oh boy, here goes Miller with another ‘woe is Iowa recruiting piece’.”
Well, it’s not ‘woe is Iowa’, as the Iowa football program has been doing just fine, thank you very much. I guess it depends on how you look at this sort of thing. If anything, I believe the data below will support just how well the Iowa football program has been performing amidst the most difficult challenge they face; recruiting geography.
I don’t need to dwell on the following too long, as the results are there for all to see; the Iowa coaching staff is among the best in college football at identifying and developing talent that other BCS conference teams don’t offer and/or don’t have to offer, given the strengths of their recruiting geographies.
Recruiting Geography is going to be the theme of these post, so let me post a graphic now that we’ll refer back to throughout the rest of the item. I have a lot of friends who are in the scouting business. One of them compiled a spreadsheet based upon Class of 2011 signees and broke the data down by state. He obtained the data from the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The large ‘players’ column is the number of high school football players in that state and the ratio is the number of players who signed with an FBS program from that state compared to the number of kids playing high school football in that state.
Since 2001, Iowa has the 17th best winning percentage in the sport. If you take away Boise State, TCU and Utah, teams who did not play BCS conference schedules during those years, Iowa jumps up to 14th. That’s a really good number, considering the other teams in the mix and the recruiting advantages they enjoy over Iowa.
Oklahoma, Texas, USC, LSU, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Florida and Auburn are all higher than Iowa on the winning percentage list. As you can see from the graphic, the states of Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, Ohio, Louisiana and Alabama are 1-7 on the list as far as gross number of FBS signees in concerned. The only outlier on the school list above is Oklahoma, but that state still produced 44 signees and had a 272 to 1 ratio, the sixth best ratio of any state in the nation.
Iowa? This data showed nine FBS signees and Iowa’s ratio of 2161 to 1 was 42nd out of 50 states.
In Iowa’s case, both the raw number and the ratio are poor, far too low to be a consistent feeder for an FBS program, much less a state that has two such programs.
Florida has the highest ratio of 111 to 1. There were 38,268 high school players and 1 of every 111 of them signed with an FBS school, an amazing number. Louisiana was second on the ratio ranking, followed by Georgia and Alabama. Utah was next at 270 to 1 and with 30 players…those are not amazing raw numbers, but that is a solid base with which to draw from for Utah and BYU.
Recruiting is the most important aspect for all of the big boys. It’s important for Iowa, but they have to work harder and smarter to compete with the blue bloods of the sport who have a much, much easier job of maintaining a successful programs due to the non-stop supply of talent in their back yards.
I have felt this way for years, though some fans don’t want to hear ‘excuses’. It’s not an excuse when it’s reality; it’s not easy to win at Iowa and it’s even harder to win consistently at Iowa. The same can be said of Wisconsin, Kansas State and several other programs. These numbers above puts what Nebraska has done in their history in an even better light.
It’s not hard (or should not be) to win at USC, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, Texas, Texas A&M, Penn State, Michigan, Miami, Florida State and Tennessee…that’s where the players are from and each of those programs are among the Top 23 winningest programs in the history of the sport.
Here are some additional observations I drew from looking at the data:
-How can Florida State and Miami have hiccups? SOOO much talent, especially for FSU. Miami is a bit more regional and Dade County can be more uncertain. Florida has been and remains one of three best coaching jobs in the sport.
-While the state of Florida has the most talent density, the state of Ohio produced 144 FBS prospects and Ohio State is the primary player in that state. There is no Florida State to recruiting against and while there is a Miami to recruit against, it’s the Redhawks and not the Hurricanes. In my opinion, Ohio State is certainly one of the four best jobs in the sport, behind Texas, USC and Florida. Urban Meyer is making the Ohio State job even more national in its recruiting scope than it has been. That will be of benefit to Michigan and a few other Midwestern programs who can come in and get some of the cream Ohio talent.
-Ohio with 144 is far and away the Midwest’s leader in talent production, with Illinois a distant second with 73. Ohio has a ratio of 382 to 1 while Illinois is at 679 to 1. More kids play football in Ohio and there are more, better players in Ohio. Pennsylvania comes next in gross Midwestern talent with 60 (and a 446 to 1 ratio) with Michigan right behind Pennsylvania at 59 (740 to 1). Given the state population, Michigan does not produce as many FBS players as you would expect, looking at their ratio. Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and Arkansas have higher talent ratios.
-Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska and West Virginia are the clear outliers in this list as it relates to talent ratio and overall gross FBS talent. Iowa produces fewer than 10 FBS players per year and West Virginia produced three. Wisconsin had 22 players and that is a decent local base for them to augment their regional efforts, while Nebraska typically gets the instate kids they target as well as pulling in national and regional prospects.
-Minnesota’s ratio is one slot lower than Iowa’s, which is surprising. They had 6,000 more kids playing football with just two more FBS signees.
What are some of the things you see from this data?