It's not often you see a program just roll over and quit on a region when it comes to recruiting, but it's hard to otherwise describe Iowa's recent decision to no longer recruit the state of Florida.
Does that sound like an exaggeration, something done for comedic effect or for the sake of—what is it you kids call it these days—hating? Because, oh no, that's actually the explicit route Iowa's going here. To wit, this from Hawkeye Nation:
The topic of Iowa football and recruiting in Florida came to a head Tuesday night in Des Moines when Recruiting Coordinator Eric Johnson said the program would not be making Florida a priority in the near future.
Johnson’s comments echoed that of Kirk Ferentz from last winter when he decided not to assign one of his assistant coaches to the Sunshine State for the first time during his tenure at Iowa. Not surprisingly, this last recruiting class didn’t have any Florida preps in it, also the first time that has happened under Ferentz.
Johnson said they feel they have the best chance to land and keep players on campus who come from no farther than six to eight hours away from campus.
This is, to put it simply, a mistake. As ESPN.com points out, Florida is where 22 of the 2013 ESPNU Top 100 recruits came from. The state had 52 4- or 5-star recruits in the 247Sports.com rankings, to say nothing of more than 200 3-star recruits with which many schools are more than happy to bolster their ranks after the giants of the region have taken their fills of the elite prospects.
Now, yes, as The Gazette points out, Iowa's track record with Florida signees as of late has not been stellar. And yes, there's some merit to the notion of recruiting closer to home. All right. Now let's double-check how Iowa did in the 247Sports.com composite team rankings for 2013.
Ah yes, that's right.
This isn't even a surprise, though. If there's one pattern to Iowa's recruiting lately, it's that for whatever reason, Kirk Ferentz doesn't often compete very hard for recruits. As mentioned here a while back, we found 45 4- or 5-star recruits—the elite type of impact players that put a program on a level playing field with the big boys—to whom Iowa offered scholarships. That was woefully behind every program in the Big Ten with one exception: Northwestern. Northwestern has the excuse of unusually rigorous academic standards that limit the number of student-athletes it can recruit.
Iowa, suffice it to say, has no such academic excuse.
So if Iowa's not going to recruit Florida, not going to go after the same number of elite prospects and evidently not going to find other ways to out-recruit its Big Ten brethren...where, exactly, are the conference-championship aspirations going to come from?