There's something interesting happening with the Iowa football offense. It started a few years ago, when Lloyd Carr announced his retirement at Michigan and was replaced by Rich Rodriguez. Michigan had already received a verbal commitment from a pro-style quarterback from Illinois, but the Rodriguez hire threw that into flux. John Wienke, who had previously narrowed his choices to Big Blue and Iowa, eventually decommitted and joined the Hawkeyes. Now he's a fifth-year senior, and he's become the holder, the backup quarterback in some capacity, and occasionally the punter.
So maybe Wienke isn't the best illustration, but the premise is there: As fewer and fewer programs run pro-style systems, Iowa has increasing odds of landing pro-style quarterbacks (and, for that matter, pro-style coaches like Soup Campbell) left as refugees when spread coaches come to town. Yesterday, that formula bore more fruit, as Tennessee-based quarterback C.J. Beathard committed to Iowa. Beathard had been a longtime Ole Miss commit, but began to waiver when Houston Nutt was fired and replaced by Hugh Freeze. The new coach might have been known for his pass-happy offense -- his previous squad at Arkansas State finished 16th nationally in passing yardage last season despite being, you know, Arkansas State -- but Beathard clearly didn't see himself fitting their plans. Mississippi's loss is Iowa's gain, etc., etc.
Beathard's ratings are tepid (3* Rivals, 3* 24/7, 3* ESPN, 2* Scout) and offers modest (Iowa, Ole Miss, SMU, and Tulane), but he's a prototypical Iowa quarterback recruit. He's tall (6'2"), skinny (just 180 pounds), appears to have a good enough arm to throw the deep out at the high school level and some touch on the long bomb. He threw for 2300 yards and 17 TDs against 8 interceptions as a high school junior. Those numbers jumped as a senior, as Beathard went for 2400 yards passing and 25 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. Not to add pressure before he hits campus, but those numbers are Ricky Stanzi in microcosm. The growth from junior year to senior year was enough for Iowa to offer a scholarship last week and, with his Ole Miss commitment looking worse by the day and no other BCS-level options on the table, Beathard flipped to the Hawkeyes.
I did a podcast with the guys at Boiled Sports before this year's OMHR game and, in between discussions of astronauts and sideboobs, we discussed Ken O'Keefe's ability to develop quarterbacks. I had to concede the point being made by our most hated rival blog: For all his faults as a playcaller, KOK has become a pretty magnificent quarterbacks coach. He made Brad Banks a viable Heisman candidate, turned the stone-like Nathan Chandler into a 10-win starter, made Drew Tate productive (if a bit unhinged), and -- after a hiccup with Jake Christensen -- turned Ricky Stanzi into the winningest Iowa quarterback since Randy Duncan. Entering 2012, he'll have five quarterbacks on the roster: Vandenberg, Wienke, Rudock, Sokol, and Beathard. That means C.J. will almost certainly be taking a much-needed redshirt, but it also means he enters the mix with two other likely unproven signalcallers in 2013. If he follows Stanzi's path up the depth chart, and if KOK works his magic on his newest protege, Beathard should be under center before we know it.