My friend Kevin at College Football Zealots is doing his (pretty darn extensive) previews for every team in advance of the 2013 college football season and he's now reached Iowa. He asked me a few questions; I answered them. Here's a sample:
CFBZ: Iowa has seen diminishing returns on the football field over the last three years as they've gone from 11-2 in 2009 to 4-8 in 2012. What have been the biggest issues that have caused this decline?
Ross: The biggest problem for Iowa the last few years has been a talent drain. They had a pretty fair amount of talent from 2008-2010, but the guys that fueled that run are long gone. The problem is that Iowa had a few poor years of recruiting, which was coupled with some equally poor retention of the recruits they did bring in. Under Kirk Ferentz, Iowa has been a developmental program -- it works by having guys stay in the program for multiple years and make steady progress. That whole process gets short-circuited when guys leave after a year or two. And too many of the guys who did stick around never made the expected (or necessary) progress, leaving Iowa pretty talent-deficient at several positions.
The struggles were exacerbated last year by significant turnover in the coaching staff. Iowa brought in multiple new coaches, including at both coordinator positions, which meant new schemes to learn. Needless to say, the players did not exactly pick up on those new schemes too quickly, especially on offense. So you have players without top-notch talent who aren't exactly sure what they should be doing on each play... yeah, that's a recipe for disaster. Injuries further robbed Iowa of some key players (especially on offense, where OT Brandon Scherff and RB Mark Weisman, arguably Iowa's two best players on that side of the ball, missed several games), but the main issue Iowa had was just a lack of talent, frankly.
Fixing that issue comes down to better recruiting, better retention, and better development. The recruiting has picked up in the last few years and the retention has also been a bit better. As far as the development... TBD. The players should be more familiar with the schemes after a full year with the new coordinators, which is a plus. The main hope is that some of the more talented recruits Iowa has landed in the last few classes will be able to contribute immediately -- that, and that some guys who have been in the system for several years are able to make a leap forward in their ability.
You can read the rest here. Go give it a look, won't you?