Gone Baby Gone
Over the weekend, Iowa's 2018 football recruiting class expanded to four. By Tuesday night, it was back to three: Linebacker Mike Bruner announced his decommitment on Twitter last night.
Bruner had been the first commitment in this class, signing up back in October while the Texodus was in full effect. At the time, his only other offer was Iowa State. According to the recruiting sites, Bruner has not received any other offers since, and Derek Young from Scout says Wisconsin is not pursuing him. So what happened?
Maybe Bruner has an unreported offer from elsewhere (Michigan and Notre Dame reportedly had interest back when he committed). Maybe Iowa had never given a "committable" offer and lost contact. Or perhaps it is what it looks like on its face: Bruner moved too quickly and had second thoughts. Best of luck to him wherever he lands.
As for Iowa, this adds to a particularly-strange trend: Four of the last six players to be the first announced commitments to the Hawkeyes have eventually decommitted.
If it seems like a lot of Iowa's first commits eventually end up decommitting and going elsewhere, it's because it's true pic.twitter.com/VHwkUC0fJk— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) April 26, 2017
There are extenuating circumstances on just about all of those. David Kenney's dad was hired by Indiana. Pierschbacher got an offer from Alabama. And Juan Harris just really liked committing to Iowa and wanted to do it a few times. But that's still an odd recruiting factoid, particularly for a program that prides itself on recruiting to its culture.
Remember Tate for Heisman?
With Iowa installing a new, presumably run-first offense and breaking in a new quarterback, and with a flashy star running back preparing to run behind a seasoned and talented offensive line, the murmurs have already begun: Akrum Wadley is a Heisman Trophy contender. And
Mitch David Schwartz at Hawkeye Nation says the athletic department should embrace it:
The University of Iowa athletic department finds itself in unfamiliar territory when it comes to Akrum Wadley. He likely won’t win the Heisman, but he might. And just the possibility that he could win means the UI should be ready to market him in ways I’m not sure they know how.
They’ll need to sell Wadley ahead of the football program itself. They’ll need to push Wadley on every network, to every talking head, across every social media channel, on program covers, at weekly press conferences, to nationally syndicated radio shows.
We can talk about the cost-benefit of a Heisman Trophy advertising campaign, how most of them only set up a player for failure by highlighting every game, or how it's possibly the most anathema thing possible for Kirk Ferentz, but that's not really necessary. Before we spill ink on the rationale for a Heisman media blitz, we need to ask whether Iowa's even capable of doing it.
Iowa isn't a sexy program, as Ferentz loves to say. People who don't have a rooting or financial interest in the outcome of an Iowa game, the observers of the game writ large that vote on the Heisman Trophy, likely don't spend much time on Iowa unless the Hawkeyes are in the Big Ten and national title picture. "Push Wadley on every network"? Iowa can't even get its spring game live on the BTN. Use "every social media channel"? Iowa's athletic department still blocks critical fans from its Twitter profile. Program covers are preaching to the choir. Press conferences have regional reach at best. National sports talk radio is a minefield of trolling that's not going to push a chosen storyline.
Heisman "campaigns" are for mid-majors who get no coverage otherwise, the province of the quirky and obscure. It is that very quirkiness and obscurity that make them successful. Iowa can't do that from its position in the Big Ten. The other contenders do it the old fashioned way: With extraordinary performances on the field and team success. If Akrum blows up opponents and leads Iowa to victories, the Heisman coverage will come, and Iowa should amplify all of it in any way possible. But starting now with some sort of ad blitz is functionally impossible.
Odds & Ends
Iowa baseball won against UW-Milwaukee last night on a walk-off chopper that got over the shortstop.
McCoy's walk-off winner Tuesday: https://t.co/Y7Lt8iNRrz— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 26, 2017
Last week, Fran McCaffery told the On Iowa podcast that his son Connor would play baseball next year at Iowa and implied that basketball was not a certainty. Connor knocked that down yesterday, according to Rob Howe:
Seeing speculation that Connor McCaffery might not play hoops at Iowa, just baseball. CM: "I am definitely playing basketball." 1 of 2— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) April 25, 2017
So I guess we can put that to rest for the moment.
Kirk Ferentz went full-on #GoodStory at the Polk County I-Club event last night. Also, linebacker Jacob Sobotka tore his ACL at the end of camp. Sobotka, a walk-on from Mt. Ayr, hasn't played much and wasn't expected to contribute significantly in 2017.
Allen Iverson lights up Tim Hardaway like it's 2001:
And finally, former Hawkeye and current WWE star Big E followed through on his promise and spent the weekend marrying people in Los Angeles. But the far bigger story came when Big E and the WWE's other Iowa-based star, Davenport's own Seth Rollins, talked about Iowa City's best burritos:
In related news, I'd literally kill for Pancheros right now.