Over at the Mothership, Pete Volk came up with a method for determining which state is best for recruiting. He totaled the number of three-star and higher recruits from each state over the last five seasons and divided that by the number of FBS football programs in the state. The results were not so good for Iowa: 41 recruits between the two major state universities, or 4.1 recruits per program per year. That ties Iowa with Nevada for the 43rd-most recruits. In cartographical form, it looks like this:
As you can see, that places Iowa behind every Big Ten state, which we kind of already knew.
The good news is that Iowa has done a fairly good job of landing the relevant in-state recruits. The following is a list of those 41 three-star recruits and where they ended up:
|Darian Cotton||Iowa State|
|Brock Dagel||Iowa State|
|Jamison Lalk||Iowa State|
|Charlie Rogers||Iowa State|
|Collin Bevins||Iowa State|
|Jake Campos||Iowa State|
|Jesse Ertz||Kansas State|
|Joel Lanning||Iowa State|
|Ryan Glenn||Iowa State|
|Allen Lazard||Iowa State|
|Glyeb Ewing||Oregon State|
|Julian Good-Jones||Iowa State|
|Bryce Meeker||Iowa State|
|Seth Nerness||Iowa State|
GOOD NEWS: That's 19 of 41 three-star-or-better recruits in the state of Iowa that (at least originally) signed up to wear black and gold, seven better than Iowa State and far ahead of anyone else. Just two in-state Iowa recruits in the last five years has ended up at a rival Big Ten school, a solid record of Kirk Ferentz securing the state borders against foreign invasion.
BAD NEWS: Those guard towers might not be as strong as they first appear. The state's four-star talents, like four-star talent from elsewhere, have avoided Iowa in the last five years. All four consensus four-star recruits generated by the state have gone elsewhere, with three leaving the state for premiere programs (Oregon, Alabama, Michigan). It might not be that Iowa is protecting the borders. Rather, it could well be that Iowa's talent is simply not of a level to encourage invaders. It's the Catch-22 of recruiting in Iowa: Many of the three-star recruits cited above only earned those stars after Iowa (and, often, Iowa State) had offered a scholarship. If they were in another, more talent-rich state, they might not ever see those rankings.
GOOD NEWS: Successful programs with Iowa's in-state talent profile -- Nebraska, Oregon, Kentucky, Louisville -- have broadened their recruiting scope greatly in recent years. Oregon has arguably the greatest reach across the country, thanks to its offense, its facilities and its Nike benefactors. Nebraska has fewer recruits from its own state than Iowa, opting for its traditional territories in California, Texas, Florida and (increasingly) Ohio. Kentucky and Louisville have installed proven recruiters who have cultivated talent from the SEC footprint and beyond. Less successful programs with those same profiles -- Colorado, Oregon State -- have opted for something very familiar to Iowa fans: Local players, a pipeline to second-tier Texas talent, and "player development" above all else, and they have collapsed.
So how is this good news? While Iowa remains hopelessly backward schematically, the combination of new facilities and new recruiting coordinator Seth Wallace has opened the map like never before. The formerly-conservative Iowa recruiting plan has been shredded, and the Hawkeyes are handing out scholarship offers like candy. It shows both an acknowledgement that the old way of doing things isn't working and a belief that the new facilities give Iowa a chance with top-level talent from anywhere in the country. It might be stupid, but it's bold, and it's the only hope of stopping the slow bleed.
BAD NEWS: Especially concerning is the fact that a previous study of high school football participation rates found that the Hawkeye State was second only to Mississippi in percentage of high school students playing football. Iowa kids aren't watching Macfarland, USA and suddenly joining cross country teams or playing fall baseball. They are especially loyal to the game. They just largely aren't athletic enough to earn the creepy stares of recruitniks.
GOOD NEWS: In response, Iowa has landed its first two recruits of the 2016 cycle out of Wisconsin, which produces more decent college football talent with far less competition than anyone else in the region and have just undergone two coaching changes in three years. Illinois and Ohio remain loaded, though highly competitive. New Jersey and Maryland, now in the Big Ten footprint, have more talent per school than almost anyone. And there's always Texas and the South. Iowa continues to do well in Iowa -- as long as Reese Morgan has a job, that will be true -- but it might no longer need those in-state projects to fill its classes soon.