CHICAGO - Iowa football is building a personnel department. In other words, they're putting together a quartet of people whose job is to focus on recruiting.
Schools from around the country have been upping the ante in terms of dedicating resources to prospecting. It's become a staff within a staff.
Tyler Barnes and Scott Southmayd handled much of the on-campus recruiting administrative detail for much of the decade. Barnes left for Vanderbilt last year and long-time recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson left the program in May.
Those departures opened the door for Ferentz to rework his recruiting team. He hired former graduate assistant to be the coordinator and Southmayd remained the quality control assistant.
Max Allen was put in charge of social media and promotions. Ferentz has closed in on hiring his fourth person.
"There are a million things that need to be done logistically, starting with paper work. When prospects drop in, parents drop in and right now Max has to go back and forth. I'd like him to just concentrate on the social media and promotions, focus on the creative stuff," Ferentz said.
There's a chance the Iowa recruiting department could grow beyond being a foursome. It's about keeping up with the competition.
OLD DOG LEARNS NEW TRICK: Ferentz has been recruiting players for most of his adult life. Still, sometimes things pop up that are new to him.
"I learned something this summer that I had never heard. Is it soft offer? I had never heard that term until June or May. I said, "What the heck is that; a non-commitable offer?"" Ferentz said.
Ferentz said it's all part of games being played in the pursuit of prospects.
"It's an all-time record of rhetoric, he it non-commitable offers or "I'm kind of committed." It's an insurance policy. Take the best offer you have in August. That way if you get hurt, you're covered. Then you can open it up in December. Instead of people just doing it discretely, they're saying they're doing it. When a prospect chooses to do that, we have to make a decision if we want to continue to recruit that prospect. You have to ask yourself, if he flips and commits to you in December, what's he going to do in January. It's an interesting world, the world of recruiting. Hang on," Ferentz said.
IOWA CLASS OF 2015 UPDATE: Ferentz said he expects the current recruiting cycle for Iowa to include a group of players numbering in the mid to high teens.
"We're doing fine. We're still looking for defense right now. That's an area right now. And then probably skill positions on offense," he said.
Iowa currently has 12 known verbal commitments in the '15 group.
RECRUITING OBSTACLES: Ferentz was asked the biggest challenge Iowa faces in recruiting. His response:
"Overcoming the stigma/stereotype. We're not perceived as a sexy school or a blue-blood school. And we're not. We're not Ohio State. Ohio State has been good forever, they've had good players forever and a lot of them come from the state of Ohio. It's a football rich state.
"The trick is getting players on campus and let them see what we have. It's a really well kept secret and when players come they find out we've got a wonderful place. On top of that, we've got facilities that are now second to none. We're opining up a $30 operations building, a $55 million project total. The most important thing is we've got great people. But it's still if you're not a "blue-blood or sexy school." There are about eight or 10 of those out there."
"I wish I had a pint of Ben and Jerry's for every time we've come in second on somebody," Ferentz said. "That's just recruiting. We get close. But that's the nature of recruiting. You lose more than you win."
Ferentz said Iowa walks a tightrope sometimes. The Hawkeyes need to pursue players showing interest but beating out the top programs for high-level prospects is a challenge.
"The challenge is being realistic. We probably get in deeper than we should sometimes. Part of that is kids come to Iowa not expecting much and they get there and are "Boy, this is a lot better than I thought." It's just what I went through in 1981. So, we get them thinking about us where as (before) they were just being nice to us. Then all of a sudden they're in the thinking about us stage. Historically, we haven't won a lot of battles against USC, Ohio State. It's just the nature of football. It's been that way for a long time. It will probably be that way for a long time," the coach said.
WAITING GAME: Iowa remains in wait-and-see mode with JCUO defensive end Torey Hendrick. As HI reported back in May, the New Jersey native needs to qualify academically with a summer school course that has yet to finish.
"He's on one of our rosters but he's not in school yet and he hasn't signed a letter. I really can't say much on him, specifically. But hypothetically, if he does come, he's not eligible to play this year. So, it's really not a pressing thing. He's finishing up some academic work and we'll see where it all goes. We hope he makes it and can red shirt. That's what we're hoping," Ferentz said.