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Harty: Attrition could be partly to blame for Hawkeyes’ struggle

[ 14 ] September 12, 2011 |

Even though Saturday’s loss to Iowa State ruined your weekend and dampened your hopes, Iowa fans owe it to Kirk Ferentz to keep the faith, at least for now

One loss in September doesn’t make a season; especially when your program has a history of regrouping in the face of adversity.

Enough of the pep talk.

While Iowa fans owe it to the coaches and the players to reserve judgment, they have every right to be concerned about this year’s team.

There is no proven depth at running back as evidenced by Marcus Coker being the only Iowa running back to carry the ball during Saturday’s 44-41 triple-overtime loss to the Cyclones in Ames.

The defensive line also failed to mount any pass rush against Iowa State. And on the few occasions when the pocket did collapse, Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz usually answered with his legs.

Fans would like to think that the Iowa program is in permanent reload mode under Ferentz. But when has that ever been the case, especially after losing three-fourths of your starting defensive line to the NFL?

You could say the same about Hayden Fry’s 20-year reign as the Iowa coach.

Part of the reason Hawkeye fans cherish the double-digit win seasons and the Big Ten titles is because they don’t happen very often at Iowa.

Iowa has been playing football since 1889, but only has seven double-digit win seasons to its credit.

That’s seven more than Iowa State has, but it falls well short of the some of the glamour programs like Ohio State (20) and Oklahoma (32).

And since we’re talking about numbers, here is something else to consider: Iowa combined to sign 67 players in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 recruiting classes, but 27 have either quit the team or transferred to another school.

Eight of the 22 players in Iowa’s 2007 recruiting class left the team early, as did 11 of the 25 players in the 2008 class and eight of the 20 players in the 2009 class.

You’d expect those three classes to fill the bulk of the 2011 roster because the players would either be in their third, fourth or fifth year in the program.

Now you’re probably wondering how Iowa compares to other Big Ten teams with regard to attrition.

Wisconsin is the program to which Iowa is most compared. But the Badgers have only had 12 players leave the team from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 recruiting classes, including just four from 2009 and 2010 classes, according to the current roster.

On the other hand, four of the 22 players in Iowa’s 2010 recruiting class already have left the team, including two defensive linemen — Donavan Johnson and Anthony Ferguson — and linebacker Austin Gray.

It’s hard enough recruiting players to Iowa, but keeping them here is no easy task, either.

This isn’t to say that a lack of bodies was the reason Iowa lost to Iowa State this past Saturday.

But to lose more than a third of the players in three recruiting classes certainly doesn’t help.

Now it might seem that Ferentz and his assistants don’t do enough research before offering scholarships.

That hardly is the case, though, because the Iowa staff is known for being meticulous and thorough in recruiting. They don’t just hand out scholarship offers.

Just ask West High senior Charles Rogers.

He’s considered one of the top instate recruits and has scholarship offers from Iowa State, Minnesota and Northern Illinois.

But Ferentz apparently wants to see Rogers play more as a senior, because according to Rogers, Ferentz hasn’t extended an offer.

So to summarize, it’s too early to give up on this season. But if Iowa fails to meet expectations, it’ll be hard not to wonder if attrition was partly to blame.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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