By most accounts, National Signing Day was an extremely quiet one for Iowa football. Everyone we expected to sign with Iowa yesterday did (JUCO DE Torey Hendrick didn't sign yesterday, but we also knew he wouldn't be able to sign until the summer). There were no surprise commitments, nor any last-minute decommitments. There were no players doing elaborate hat games with Iowa caps. It was about as ho-hum as you can get for a circus like National Signing Day.
And then Paul Rhoads decided to open his mouth. Per Rob Gray of The Gazette:
"That's Allen Lazard's National Letter of Intent," Rhoads said of his four-star crown jewel recruit. "Let me talk about Allen Lazard a little bit."
So he did.
Lazard, a 6-5, 215-pound wide receiver from Urbandale, maintained a commitment he'd made 14 months ago to the Cyclones' program.
That's a big deal, as Rhoads' affirmed while referencing Lazard's main other suitor (Notre Dame), as well as an in-state program to the east.
"He's not going to a school in northern Indiana," Rhoads said of Lazard, a high school all-American. "Boy, they wasted a lot of time and money. He's not going to another school in this state, who feverishly tried to call him about a half a dozen times in the last week."
As they say: SHOTS FIRED.
It would be news to us that Iowa was continuing to recruit Lazard -- Iowa didn't have a lot of opening remaining in this class (as evidenced by the fact that there weren't a lot of last-minute offers handed out to 2* prospects; even last-minute OL commit Ross Reynolds only got a grayshirt offer) and there hadn't been a peep about Iowa continuing to pursue Lazard in recruiting. But that's neither surprising (depending on how public the recruit decides to be with the entire process, we really only catch a small glimpse of the recruiting beast and a lot happens that we don't hear about) nor remotely alarming (you mean, Iowa might have wanted to get the signature of the top in-state skill position player? Imagine that). Where things get stupid is when Paul Rhoads gets self-righteous.
As anyone who's followed recruiting for more than a nano-second realizes, verbal commitments -- the only thing recruits are allowed to give coaches until signing their Letters of Intent on National Signing Day -- are rarely worth the words it takes to express them. Recruits change their minds All. The. Time. Which makes sense: they're 18 years old and they're making probably the biggest decision of their lives so far. That ain't the easiest thing to do. Given that landscape, it's not surprising that coaches keep pursuing recruits after they make a verbal commitment to another school. Because you never know... So if Notre Dame and Iowa want to keep making sure that Lazard is still firm in his commitment with Iowa State, even after their worst year in half a decade, well, can you blame them?
Apparently Paul Rhoads can blame them. Because Paul Rhoads would never pursue a recruit who's given his verbal commitment to another school, right? I mean... surely not? Right, Des Moines Register?
Rhoads, in fact, benefited from the recruiting practice in the past when he lured West Des Moines Valley High School offensive lineman Jake Campos, who had verbally committed to Missouri, to his 2013 class. Linebacker Willie Harvey, part of this year's class, had previously committed to Southern Mississippi, according to reports.
In a December 2012 interview, Campos told the Des Moines Register, "When I told (Rhoads) I committed (to Missouri), he was great. He said, ‘I'm happy for you. I hope this is the right decision for you. But we're not going to stop recruiting you.'
"And he didn't. He just kept going."
There's a reason you "waste" all of that time and money pursuing recruits who might have already given verbal commitments to other schools: because those verbal commitments don't guarantee anything, and minds change frequently. I know that. You know that. And Paul Rhoads damn sure knows it, especially when he's the beneficiary of an 18-year old changing his mind.
The charitable interpretation of Rhoads' comments is that he's just getting an early start on the Cyclone Club booster circuit and pumping up the Cyclone fan masses by crowing about the fact that he was able to get a highly-touted local recruit to spurn (better) offers from elsewhere to stay home and go to Iowa State. He can't beat Notre Dame and Iowa on the field, but he can beat them for the heart and mind of Allen Lazard. Lord knows he needs to give Iowa State fans something to cling to after scraping together a 3-8 wet fart of a season on the field last year. But it's also hard to ignore the stench of hypocrisy hovering over his comments in light of Iowa State's actions in the creepstakes over the last few seasons.