Peterson: Annoyed with Iowa State's recruiting approach? That may mean it's working

Randy Peterson
The Des Moines Register

I sense Brian Ferentz is annoyed that Iowa State has offered 300-plus scholarships for the 2018 class, but remember this:

It works. At least last year it worked, when various websites proclaimed the Cyclones had the best recruiting class in school history.

Iowa State coach Matt Campbell and his staff are paid to recruit players who pass the program’s internal vetting process. 

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell talks to his team following their spring game on Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Ames.

If Iowa State oversteps NCAA rules, then there’s a problem. If there's a rash of situations where Iowa State is dropping early commitments for loose reasons, then I have a problem with it. But neither has happened since Campbell came aboard before the 2016 season.

And anyhow, when’s the last time a non-Iowa State person has even bothered to wonder what’s happening on the football recruiting front in Ames?

So if you see Campbell grinning today, wherever he is, that may be one of the reasons.

Someone without any ties or allegiance to Iowa State tossed out a back-handed compliment to his two-year-old program.

Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz walks off the field with his son after their Spring Game on Friday, April 21, 2017, in Iowa City.

If you’ve read this far, you know what I’m referring to. The Ferentz Wednesday night radio interview. The interview where Iowa’s offensive coordinator said:

“What has sped things up in our state, especially, is the guys in Ames and then the new guys in Minneapolis seem to have no problem really throwing early things out.”

Ferentz was talking about recruiting. He was talking about scholarship offers. He was verbalizing how much sooner some schools offer scholarships these days.

The average Power Five school, which Iowa and the guys up in Ames are, has offered 170.2 scholarships as of Thursday, according to 247Sports. The Ames guys’ 321 offers are behind only Tennessee’s 330, among the nation’s most prominent programs. That website has the Hawkeyes' offer list at 93, second fewest in the Big Ten to Northwestern’s 68.

“And what I’ve learned — certainly about the guys in Ames, and I think we’ll find this about the guys (new Gophers coach P.J. Fleck's staff) in Minneapolis — what does an offer really mean?" Ferentz said. "I can tell you this much: If the University of Iowa offers you a scholarship and you commit to us, we intend to sign you."

It isn’t exactly news that Campbell’s strategy includes early offers — again, as long as the recruits check all Iowa State’s recruiting boxes. He did it last year, too, and Iowa State ended up with a 2017 class that recruiting experts ranked seventh in the Big 12 Conference — the highest in a long, long time.

He doesn’t owe anyone an apology. Coaches needn’t apologize, regardless of school, for recruiting strategies — unless there’s rule-violating shenanigans going on.

To each their own. And in recruiting, no one is perfect. What’s right or what’s out of the box depends on philosophy.

If Campbell’s recruiting gets under your skin — well, he’s not changing. No one’s changing their strategies, wherever they're coaching. There’s no one-size-fits-all in recruiting.

As much as people say otherwise: It’s still the Wild, Wild West.

Every coach offers more scholarships than he has available. Every coach knows players, especially players committing early in the process, can change their minds.

Name one Power Five coach who doesn’t try to poach a player who has already committed to another program. Just one.

Some programs like Tennessee and Iowa State hand out more offers than others. The more high school players who know your name, the better — especially if you’re Iowa State, or UT in the football-crazed SEC.

It's drastically different from the Cyclones’ previous regime, though, and maybe that's the rub. The average number of recruiting offers during the seasons Paul Rhoads coached Iowa State was 122.3 per recruiting class.

But you may remember ... Rhoads was eventually fired. 

Randy Peterson, senior sports reporter, has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at rpeterson@dmreg.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.




Louisville 309

Syracuse 288

North Carolina State 217

Virginia 178

Boston College 176

North Carolina 176

Duke 178

Virginia Tech 171

Miami 166

Pittsburgh 162

Wake Forest 147

Florida State 126

Clemson 92

Georgia Tech 76

BIG 12

Iowa State 321

West Virginia 225

Oklahoma 168

TCU 137

Oklahoma State 113

Kansas 106

Texas Tech 94

Baylor 91

Texas 80

Kansas State 66


Oregon 205

UCLA 180

Colorado 153

Oregon State 144

Utah 140

Washington State 135

Arizona State 122

Arizona 129

USC 116

Cal 103

Washington 57

Stanford 32


Tennessee 330

Kentucky 291

Ole Miss 272

Mississippi State 270

Georgia 242

Alabama 221

LSU 218

Florida 214

South Carolina 208

Vanderbilt 208

Missouri 203

Auburn 169

Arkansas 121

Texas A&M 88


Indiana 261

Rutgers 260

Maryland 230

Michigan 204

Minnesota 204

Michigan State 181

Purdue 179

Nebraska 176

Wisconsin 174

Penn State 146

Illinois 145

Ohio State 140

Iowa 93

Northwestern 68

Source: 247Sports