Kirk Ferentz's 'Moneyball' Approach to Recruiting in Iowa

By DJ Byrnes on June 25, 2014 at 10:16a

Moneyball is a 2011 film adaption of Michael Lewis' 2003 book of the same name, about Oakland A's manager Billy Beane, a statistical revolution in scouting, and the A's surprising competitiveness in during the 2002 season.

If the movie were about Iowa and its football recruiting, then Brad Pitt would've played Kirk Ferentz.

From Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN:

As more and more schools -- including virtually every program in the Big Ten -- flock to Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi more than ever, Iowa has done the exact opposite. Over the past 12 recruiting cycles, Iowa has stuck to its Midwest roots, signing 128 players from Iowa, Illinois and Ohio. Also during that time, Texas and Florida are the only Southern states among the 10 states from which Iowa most commonly lands commitment. It's more common for the Hawkeyes to land players from New Jersey, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Maryland.


"Iowa just does things differently than anybody else in our league, and virtually everybody else in the country," one Big Ten recruiting coordinator said. "I don't think you'll ever see us focus only on the Midwest like [Iowa has] done, because it won't work for us. But for them it does. It's kind of like what you see in baseball with Billy Beane. The way Iowa recruits is kind of like 'Moneyball' on the recruiting trail. They have their formula, and a lot of people think they're crazy for doing it that way. It's produced a lot of good results, though."


Since 2002, Iowa has the Big Ten's fifth-best winning percentage -- fourth if you remove Nebraska, which entered the league in 2011. The Hawkeyes also have the 25th-best winning percentage in the country during that time and have won two Big Ten titles. Iowa has also done a very good job of turning the Midwest talent into NFL players, with 38 players selected in the past 10 drafts, including first-round picks Dallas Clark, Robert Gallery, Bryan Bulaga, Adrian Clayborn and Riley Reiff.

I suppose it's a fitting comparison, because like Billy Beane's Oakland Athletics, Kirk Ferentz's Iowa has never won a national title.

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