Inside College Athletics with Bob Bowlsby

In this month's installment of ICA with Bob Bowlsby, the Iowa athletics director discusses: The Tony Temple accusations, rumblings that the ACC is looking at Notre Dame, talk that the Chicago Bears might be looking at his football coach and his impressions of meeting recruits during last week's ASU game.

Did you read the article in the KC Star earlier this week where Tony Temple said an Iowa booster had enticed him?

BB: Actually, I never did read it. I think it's really irresponsible journalism for them to run with a story like that without the name and without real details on it. The kid could have made it up. It could have been an offer made by a Nebraska fan saying that he was an Iowa alum that was going to take care of him. It's Internet journalism. I was really quite surprised to see it out of the Kansas City Star.

Are you concerned by there perhaps being someone from another program trying to sabotage you or some Hawkeye fan who thinks he's helping your program out there?

BB: There's the reality of it that someone out there that thinks they're a friend of the program could do something that would be damaging. We're constantly on the watch for that sort of thing. It's important to us. There's a reason why we haven't been probation in a long, long, long time. It's because we sweat those details. To be honest about it, there is nothing that would keep Citizen X that lives in Sioux City from offering something to a kid that's inappropriate. If we find out about it, obviously we take appropriate action. Sometimes we wouldn't find out about it. That's the actuality of something happening. The other things is that right now you've got the so-called recruiting experts and you've got average fans who have the email addresses of high school kids. There's the Illinois fan who writes to a kid that says Iowa is at the top of his list and tries to torpedo our coaches or convince him to go to Illinois. This is the first time in history where average Joe fan on the street can actually correspond with the top recruits in the country. It's not a positive thing for college athletics. There are many ways where people get into areas that they have no business being involved in. But it's something that we have to deal with. I mean, what's to keep me from going on line and corresponding with Colorado's top recruit and saying that I'm a Colorado booster and that they'll be a big package of cash in your mail if you commit to Colorado? There's absolutely nothing that keeps you from doing that. It's a crazy environment out there right now. But I'm really more concerned about the ethics and the professionalism of our staff. The people we can control. Our staff understands what our expectations are. That is that we conform to the rules. We work our tails off. And that we do the best job that we can of selling the institution and selling the coaches and selling what it is that Iowa is about. It's a very genuine place where you can get a good education and really have a lot of fun playing college football. We can't really concern ourselves much with the rest of it. We have vigilant. We have to keep our eyes open. We have to watch for things that might be signs. But we've got to control what we can control.

Do you guys educate your boosters on the rules?

BB: We put out a compliance newsletter that goes out to internal and external constituent groups. We put out a column in the HawkTalk that deals with compliance issues. Every forum we get through speaking engagements and things like that, we talk about wanting to do things the right way. And then on campus we've got lots and lots of compliance mechanisms. There aren't many of those things that go on that the booster just goes out and does it on his or her own. After the fact, the coaches are hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. But the fact is that that stuff doesn't go on very often without somebody institutionally knowing it's going on despite people's protests to the contrary.

Have you heard anything from the NCAA on this Temple accusation?

BB: No. We might. But I don't know how we would ever begin to track it down.


You get to meet with all of the recruits on campus when they visit. How do you think that the visits are going?

It's pretty unusual to have kids make official visits (this early). Usually all of our official visits are during December, January and February. I'll be interested in seeing how many of those seven kids (that visited during the ASU game) actually make an early commitment. I think the reason that they take those visits during the school year is two-fold. One, they want to see what it's about on game day. They want to feel that. They want to see what the kids go through and what the coaches go through. The other thing is that they want to get it over with. They want to gather as much information as they can. They want to make their decisions early and get on with it. We're probably in on a better rated kid. I don't know when it's all said and done if we're in on kids that will end up being better football players or better people.

What were your impressions of the kids that visited?

BB: They seemed like real nice kids. They looked you right in the eye and asked good questions.It was good to see.


Does it surprise you that the ACC appears to be courting Notre Dame for membership outside of football?

BB: Given what they've done over the last six months, I guess I wouldn't say that anything would surprise me. (laughs) From what I understand, I don't think that Notre Dame is all that happy with the remainder of the Big East. I'm sure that they're looking around trying to keep their options open, and they're willing to listen to anybody willing to make overtures. Geographically it certainly doesn't make much sense. And there are other issues.

With the ACC approaching Notre Dame, do you see other conferences going to Notre Dame and asking if they're interested and possibly adding football into the mix?

BB: You mean other conferences like the Big Ten? I don't know. It's hard to say what others would do. If it were known openly that Notre Dame was looking for a new home, there would probably be several that would at least have some conversations. It doesn't cost anything to talk.

How attractive are they?

BB: They're attractive in a lot of different ways. Obviously, they're an outstanding undergraduate institution. But when you get to comparing them to institutions like the ones in the Big Ten, they aren't very much like us. We have a lot of major research programs and big graduate programs. They don't have the kind of medical programs that major research institutions have. From an institutional snapshot, they're not like a lot of the schools in the Big Ten. Athletically, obviously they've got as rich a tradition as there is any place in college athletics, especially in their football program. Mike Brey has done a great job with their men's basketball program. Their women's basketball program has been strong. They've got a lot of centers of excellence. So, from that standpoint, they would be attractive to virtually anybody. And they do it the right way. They care about graduating kids.

So, it would be tougher to sell Notre Dame to the academic administrators in the Big Ten as opposed to the athletic officials?

BB: I couldn't characterize any aspect of it from the Big Ten standpoint. As far as I know, we haven't made any overtures to Notre Dame and they haven't made any to us. I don't find 11 (schools) particularly uncomfortable. Until we find an institution that brings what Penn State brought, at least that much, I just don't see any movement in our alignment.


Believe it or not, there are already rumors that the Bears might consider Kirk Ferentz as a candidate for the heading coaching position should the current staff not turn things around. Does it surprise you that the talk is starting already?

BB: It's ironic then that I used the Chicago Bears as an example in the paper yesterday. (laughs). No. When you've got good people, others always going to covet them. We can't compete with the salaries in the pros. But there are some other things that are pretty good about coaching at Iowa and in college football. And those are the things we'll hope will carry the day.

Are you surprised by the 4-0 start by your football team? The so-called experts didn't have you guys doing this well.

BB: I guess we were viewed as a flash in the pan. Today, I'm told, is one-hit wonder day nationally. The radio stations are all playing and touting one-hit wonders. I guess there were a lot of people that thought we were a one-hit wonder. I'm kind of hard to surprise anymore. I thought all along that we had a good football team, that we would particulary good defensively. And we knew our kicking game was good. Our special teams have been good for the last three years. There's no reason to think that they wouldn't continue to be good. We've got lots of places where we can improve. We've moved the ball enough to score and win games. We've played the defense we thought we could play. I'm certainly not shocked to be 4-0. I thought we were coming into the season with the chance to win every game. And I think we continue to have a chance to win every game. Will we? Who Knows? But we will go into every football game with a chance to win.

Can Iowa be a Michigan or an Ohio State?

BB: There are some places that it's easier than others. We're in the smallest state university in the least populated state in the Big Ten. Penn State has 50 million people within 200 miles of their campus. Ohio State has 20 million in their state and a lot of kids playing high school football. They can recruit nationally and pick up seven, eight, nine, 10 kids. And the other 15 can all come from their state. They're going to be good enough to have a Top 5, Top 10 recruiting class. Michigan is the same way. It's easier at those places because they have larger alumni bases. They have more people in their state. They have more resources. There are a lot of advantages they have. Is it ever going to get that comfortable at Iowa? Probably not because we're always going to have 10 or 12 kids in the state of Iowa that are legitimate Division I prospects. And when Iowa State is pretty good and Iowa is good, you're going to get some division of where those kids go. We're always going to have to take 80 percent of our recruiting classes from outside the state of Iowa. So, kids are making decisions based upon other things other than, "I grew up my whole life as a Buckeye fan" or "I grew up my whole life as a Wolverine fan." Not that it's easy at Ohio State or Michigan or Penn State, but it's easier than it is at Iowa.

Does that in turn make it more difficult to earn a reputation as one of the top programs in the country?

No. I think we have a reputation of being one of the best-coached programs in the country. I think we have a reputation out of making a lot out of what resources we have. I think it makes it all the more important that we have a first-rate academic learning center and a first-rate football developmental facility and a first-rate practice facility, where we spend all of our time. And that we have high-quality weight rooms and the sports medicine program is the best that it can be. I think you have to have all of the oars in the water if you're going to win consistently at Iowa. And that's the thing that I admire most about Kirk is that he sweats all of the details. He does all of the little things well that help you win at a place like Iowa.

When you look at what you're doing, are the recruiting rankings overrated?

BB: They're vastly overrated. If you go back and look at the so-called recruiting experts four and five years after they've made their prognostications, if they're right on 30 percent of them, you know the guys that are sure-shot, four-star, blue-chip players, it would be remarkable. There's not much accountability in that system. If a recruit shows up on Ohio State and Notre Dame and Michigan's lists, all of a sudden they're a four-star recruit. Well, the kids that we took up to Michigan last year, there weren't very many of them on the four-star recruit list. And there were a whole bunch of them on Michigan. It's how hard you work, how well you deploy your forces, how committed you are to what it is that you're doing. There are a lot of guys out there that can play college football. How you develop them and how they come on from the time they get there until the time that they leave is really what's more important than how highly-touted they are when they come in.

Is talent assessment one of the most underrated strengths of this Iowa staff?

BB: And it's not just an assessment of their talent. It's an assessment of their work ethic of their personal qualities, how well they fit into the environment that we have here. It's a lot of things. But you're not always out there looking for a diamond in the rough, but you're looking for a particular set of qualities. Work ethic is certainly one of them that our coaches place a real high premium on.

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