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

June 25, 2014 at 10:16a    by DJ Byrnes    

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.



The Urban Legend's picture

Way to end the article with a bang DJ. 

The Legend continues

+4 HS
OSUStu's picture

Wow.  So I guess this is how Iowa has managed to stay relevant.  

If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.  ~ Bruce Lee

Hovenaut's picture

None of this appeases the AIRBHG.

We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

+6 HS
BierStube's picture

Moneyball seems appropriate for Iowa ..


"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+4 HS
GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Hey you have to give them credit for staying competitive without southern talent. All jokes aside, they are respectable in the way they run their program and compete with less. I wish we could say the same about some of the other lower tier B1G schools.

I do miss watching this guy:

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

d5k's picture

Indeed, if there were 5 more Iowa quality programs in the bottom of the B1G it would be a much better league.  Iowa and Wisconsin have been more consistent than Michigan over the last decade, obviously.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I've always had respect for Iowa. They stay true to their scheme and recruit to fit their needs, and they obviously are doing something right. They produce more NFL talent than many other B1G schools.... Looking at you Michigan.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Floyd Stahl's picture

This is also the formula for winning B1G coach of the year awards.

RenegadeBuckeye's picture

Iowa will never be an elite national program. We all know that's true, and so does Ferentz. If this strategy works for them, then so be it. 

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Dantonio does this too. He talks often about getting kids with "chips on their shoulder", and that "fit the system".

chirobuck's picture

they are an interesting program, they are one of those teams that seem to be competitive, even if it is streaky, with sub par recruiting rankings.....I saw rankings because the players themselves are probably very solid, just undervalued......but overall they are good for the bit ten and a program that I have no problem rooting for as long as they're not playing us


^ best post ever ^