"The Ultimate News Dump"
Last week, Iowa associate athletic director Gene Taylor left to become AD at Kansas State, leaving that position open as the Jane Meyer trial -- a discrimination case centered on Gary Barta's decision to keep Meyer out of that job and transfer her out of the department -- opened.
Yesterday, we found out that Iowa has hired Barbara Burke as Taylor's replacement. We found out because it was in the opening statement at the trial.
Barbara Burke is the new Iowa deputy AD, according to the Jane Meyer trial. (That's Gene Taylor's job. Taylor is now the AD at K-State.)
— marcmorehouse (@marcmorehouse) April 18, 2017
Burke comes to Iowa from Tulane, where he was deputy AD and COO of athletics. She has worked in college athletics for 20 years, including a stint with Gary Barta while he was at Wyoming. I don't think there's any denying her qualifications for the position, and hopefully she is as good at it as Taylor was.
But just when I think Iowa couldn't come up with a better news dump than its typical "5:30 on the Friday before a holiday weekend" move, the department finds a new and innovative way of leaking news. I'm not even mad about them announcing the new associate AD as a blatant trial ploy. The cynicism is just too damn impressive.
As expected, the NCAA adopted a bunch of football rule changes late last week. And with Bob Bowlsby prominently involved in their design and implementation, you can assume at least some of them are not particularly well thought-out.
Here's what happened:
Early Signing Period and other Recruiting Changes
At long last, football gets an early signing period starting in mid-December (for next year, Signing Day becomes December 20). That is going to change the January process considerably, which could be a double-edged sword for Iowa. While there could be a reduction in late decommits -- anyone verbally committed to the program is going to be pressured to sign in December, and anyone who doesn't comply could see an offer pulled under the same theory as the no-visit rule -- it also reduces the chances of grabbing committed players out of the MAC in late January. Those decisions may simply get moved up to December.
The bigger change for Iowa could come from the decision to allow junior-year official visits. Until now, all official visits had to take place during a player's senior season. With commitments largely moving into the summer before that season (or earlier), it made official visits an add-on taken largely after the process was complete. That led to Iowa's particular issues with fall visits by committed players to other programs, which led to disaster this fall. Iowa will push hard for official visits in the spring -- this is a certainty, as Ferentz notoriously hates in-season official visits -- and will probably use this as cover to keep the no-visit policy in place for at least one more year.
One more change: Coaches can have recruiting talks with players participating in summer camps, so long as the coach is employed as an instructor at that camp. Those camps are now limited to a ten-day period in the summer and to the campus and facilities of a college. Like everything, this is in response to Jim Harbaugh. It's amazing how scared college coaches are of a guy who can't beat Iowa.
As was increasingly expected, the tenth assistant will be added in January. That allows schools to budget the salary for the next fiscal year and minimizes disruption to existing staffs.
But the most short-sighted of all rule changes came at the intersection of coaching and recruiting: No parent or coach of a recruited player can be hired to an off-field position within two years of that player's enrollment date, before or after. This is supposed to cut down on a problem that barely exists, in which schools are hiring high school coaches to make-work positions in order to land prized recruits. It's existed in basketball for a while.
The problem with the rule is obvious: Where a basketball program might bring in three recruits in a given season and rely far less on connections with particular high school programs, football programs have to fill 25 spots per year and rely heavily on pipelines to high schools for recruits. Most high school coaches moving up to college football start in off-field roles, positions offered based on relationships built over years with college coaches. This destroys those opportunities for coaches unless they essentially forbid players from joining those programs for two years. It's absurdly short-sighted and built on unfounded fear and hysteria at the top levels of recruiting.
Two-a-days are, at long last, banned. This might be the only part of the plan geared solely toward player safety, and it comes on the heels of most programs moving away from that much preseason work.
Pros and Cons
The NFL Draft is quickly approaching -- the first round is next Thursday -- and C.J. Beathard is poised to become the second Iowa quarterback drafted during the Ferentz era.
Depending on where you look, Beathard is projected to be a late-round pick or wind up as an undrafted free agent. Given the position he plays, his bloodlines (grandfather Bobby Beathard is an accomplished former NFL general manager) and his QB acumen, the odds seem promising that his name will be called during Rounds 4 through 7 on April 29.
“I’m confident I will (get drafted). That’s just me. I’m confident in that,” said Beathard — and if you know him, that optimism is not a surprise. “I’m not worried about it. I know I’ll get a shot at some point, whenever that is.”
There are no "franchise" quarterbacks in this Draft, which probably helps; teams in need of help under center are probably more likely to take a flier in the mid-to-late rounds, particularly on a guy with a pro pedigree from a pro system who can explain away his faults.
Jake Duzey, who tore his patellar tendon in spring practice two years ago, essentially missed the final season of what could have been a great collegiate career, then tore it again before the Rose Bowl, is finally healthy and attempting a pro comeback.
While college prospects across the country put in final preparations for next week's draft, Duzey, a Troy Athens graduate who played the 2011-15 seasons at Iowa, is hoping for one last shot from an NFL team.
He spent last fall rehabbing his knee after January surgery, this winter training with Jim Kielbaso and local draft prospects at Total Sports in Wixom, and after turning heads at Iowa’s pro day last month with a 4.62-second 40-yard dash and 34-inch vertical jump, took part in the Lions’ local day workout this month.
He’s officially a first-year free agent, eligible to sign with any NFL team. And after ignoring suggestions last year that he put his finance degree to use and give up on football, Duzey said he hopes to get a free-agent offer or at least a rookie camp tryout invitation after the dust settles on what’s considered a deep tight end class in the draft, and live out his NFL dream.
Duzey always had the speed and the hands to contribute at the next level, as we saw during his performance in Columbus as a sophomore. The time off is a concern, but it's a low-risk investment for some NFL general manager. Here's hoping someone makes it.
Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus' most recent mock draft does not include Desmond King or Jaleel Johnson, because any time you can choose the Big Ten's third-best cornerback at number 6, you have to do it.
Odds & Ends
Fran McCaffery showed up on the On Iowa podcast for a ridiculously informational interview, covering the spring recruiting circuit and roster status. I don't want to take away from the good work done by Jeremiah Davis, so you should just listen to the whole thing. One takeaway: Fran saying that Connor McCaffery will probably play baseball exclusively next year and could end up in prep school.
Jarrod Uthoff tells the story of his first year in pro basketball to Chad Leistikow. Dude closed strong. He should be back in the Association next fall.
Former Hawkeye Mike Daniels gets interviewed on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."
— GMFB (@gmfb) April 13, 2017
Greatest Iowa City Police call ever.
IM ON IT https://t.co/CZDzqwYvrp
— Iowa City Police Log (@IC_ActivityLog) April 19, 2017
A professional tennis tournament match was interrupted by, well, let's just say some fuzzy balls.