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How Does Iowa’s 2017 Recruiting Class Compare to the rest of the Big Ten?

Iowa’s 41st ranked class is pretty close to the middle, which is what you’d expect.

NCAA Football: Nebraska at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day was a week ago now, and the dust has finally settled on what turned out to be a pretty decent recruiting class for the Hawkeyes. We’ve all finally had a chance to digest what was a very busy week for Kirk Ferentz and Co., so it’s time to look back and look at the overall picture of how this class is viewed right now. Of course, it’s hard to evaluate this class until they’ve actually produced on the field, but as things stand at the moment, how does Iowa’s class stack up to those of our rivals?

We already know that Iowa’s class is ranked 41st in the country (according to 247’s composite rankings), but SB Nation’s main page ran a piece to evaluate how each school’s class compares to the rest of their conference as a whole.

Overall, the average recruiting class ranking in the Big Ten was 35.9, which comes in third behind the SEC (21.8) and Pac-12 (32.9), as well as ahead of two Power 5 conferences in the ACC (38.6) and Big 12 (43.1). The Big Ten’s overall perception is heavily skewed by Ohio State and Michigan, who come in at second and fifth overall, respectively. On the other end of things, Purdue has the lowest rated class of all the Power 5 schools, coming in at 71st overall.

Here are the rankings for each Big Ten institution:

The number on the left, of course, is overall ranking, while the number on the far right is how it compares to the average ranking of Big Ten schools. As you can see, Iowa’s recruiting ranking is 5.1 spots lower than that of the average Big Ten school, which honestly isn’t horrible. It’s not where you want it (of course, you want it to be better than the average Big Ten school!), but it’s a lot better than where it was even a week before National Signing Day, when it looked like Iowa might be a lot closer to Minnesota and Indiana than the mean.

It’s interesting to note that they’re stuck in a logjam of Big Ten schools, as four of them occupy the 40-43 spots consecutively, while Michigan State and Northwestern are also in close proximity. The schools in the 7-11 range in the conference are all within about 14 spots of each other, which means that based on the recruiting service being used, these teams could all conceivably move up and down the list. The level of talent each school is bringing in is, in theory, very similar.

It’s hard to get an opinion of Iowa’s recruiting class based on a chart like this because it’s all based on speculation on how talented these players are coming into college, without playing a single snap of football at the FBS level. On one hand, you can choose to see how closely Iowa is ranked to the likes of Rutgers, Illinois, and Northwestern, and choose to say that’s not the company Iowa should want to share. On the other hand, you can choose to see that Iowa is also close in ranking to Wisconsin and Michigan State, two programs with recent histories of success, and say that the ranking can’t be that bad.

One thing you can always hang your hat on, though, is Iowa’s ability to develop less appreciated high school players. Iowa’s grouped with schools like Rutgers and Illinois in the 41-43 range, but they also have a history of out-developing these same schools with similar recruiting classes. Wisconsin is ranked right about where Iowa is, but would you expect Illinois and Rutgers to start performing at the same rate as Wisconsin with the same level of recruits? I’d think not, and there’s no reason to think that Iowa is going to bump down a tier in the Big Ten based on where they’re recruiting. Ferentz and Doyle, as well as the rest of the staff, have a history of getting the most out of their players, and that should continue to pay dividends for the Hawkeyes in the future.

Some other interesting notes...

  • Nebraska is the highest ranked Big Ten West team, coming in at 23. That’s behind four Big Ten East teams (Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Maryland), and five spots behind the fourth ranked team out of the East. While Maryland has yet to be competitive on the field, it’s clear that Eastern dominance is real.
  • Going off of the idea of Eastern dominance, the average ranking for a Big Ten East institution is 28.8. The average ranking of a Big Ten West institution is 54. Only one Big Ten West team is ranked higher than the mean of the Big Ten East, and that’s Nebraska. Yikes.
  • The only conference that Iowa would be higher than the average is the Big 12, which also has the weakest recruiting classes based off rankings.
  • The three schools to make coaching changes this offseason are also the three schools at the bottom of the Big Ten recruiting rankings for the Class of 2017. That would make some sense.

What strikes you about the Big Ten’s recruiting during this cycle?