powered by the Iowa City Press-Citizen & The Des Moines Register
Subscribe via RSS Feed

Harty: Ohio State’s dominance over Iowa starts with recruiting

[ 0 ] October 15, 2013 |

Iowa senior tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz deserves congratulations, but not just for making the John Mackey Award Midseason Watch List.

The Johnsburg, Ill. native is also on a list that few Iowa football players have made over the years.

Fiedorowicz is believed to be the only member of the 2013 Iowa squad to have been offered a scholarship by Ohio State, which plays host to Iowa on Saturday. As a high school senior in 2009, Fiedorowicz was considered one of the top tight ends in the country. He pretty much had his pick of schools, including the very selective Buckeyes.

Several of his Hawkeye teammates, including junior tight end Ray Hamilton, sophomore offensive lineman Jordan Walsh and redshirt freshmen defensive linemen Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie, also were heralded recruits in high school. All four of them had at least 20 scholarship offers from some of the top BCS programs in the country, but not from Ohio State.

Hamilton reportedly had offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Florida State, Oregon and Wisconsin. He also grew up in Ohio, and yet the Buckeyes, who were coached by Jim Tressel at the time, took a pass on him.

On the flip side, it’s probably fair to say that a majority of the Ohio State players who are on scholarship could’ve had the same opportunity at Iowa.

It’s no mystery why the Buckeyes have dominated Iowa over the years — and all the other Big Ten teams not named Michigan for that matter.

Woody Hayes became a coaching legend at Ohio State mostly because he had more talent than his opponents.

Urban Meyer is midway through his second season as the Ohio State coach and still hasn’t lost a game, a streak that currently stands at 18 consecutive victories. Meyer is considered a coaching genius after winning two national titles at Florida and after being largely successful at Utah and Bowling Green. Part of his genius, though, is surrounding himself with better players than his opponents.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has seen his share of Ohio State teams and they all had one thing in common: an abundance of talent. Ferentz couldn’t recall a time when asked Tuesday if Iowa ever had more talent than the Buckeyes.

“If it happened, I can’t remember it,” Ferentz said. I don’t think I was here.”

That covers a lot of ground, considering this is Ferentz’s 24th season as a member of the Iowa coaching staff. He is in his 15th season as head coach and also spent nine seasons coaching the Iowa offensive line from 1981-89 under Hayden Fry.

Ferentz is 1-7 against Ohio State as a head coach, his only victory coming in 2004 by a lopsided 33-7 margin. The victory wasn’t a fluke, considering Iowa won the Big Ten title in 2004, while Ohio State finished 8-5. But it was an abberration based on what happened before that game against the Buckeyes and since then.

The Big Ten has come a long way since the days when Ohio State and Michigan had the conference in a stranglehold, which hit its peak in the 1970s.

But some things never will change because the circumstances won’t allow for it. Ohio State is built for long-term success in football mostly because it’s located in a heavily populated state where football is almost considered a religion.

Iowa junior strong safety Johnny Lowdermilk grew up in Ohio and wanted to play for the Buckeyes until he realized they didn’t want him.

“I ended up here and I’m extremely grateful to coach Ferentz for giving me the opportunity,” Lowdermilk said. “I bleed black and gold and I’m 100 percent Hawkeye and nothing else.”

Iowa junior offensive lineman Andrew Donnal had a similar situation while growing up near Toledo, Ohio. His bedroom used to be filled with Buckeye memorabilia, but that changed once he became a Hawkeye.

“When you get into the business of getting offers, you kind of drop that fan mentality,” Donnal said. “That was kind of the last time the Buckeyes were anywhere in my head.”

They’ll be in Donnal’s head this week as Iowa prepares to face the Buckeyes for the first time since 2010. Iowa has only defeated Ohio State four times since 1963 and is a 17-point underdog for Saturday’s game.

Combine those facts with Fiedorowicz being the only Hawkeye to be offered a scholarship by Ohio State and the chip on Iowa’s shoulder should be huge.

Will it be enough to offset the difference in talent? History says probably not.

Tags: , , ,

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.

Comments closed