What follows are quotes from Don on these topics:
But during this entire process, he had consistently expressed a desire to take all of his visits, or at least to the schools that he had identified wanting to visit.
During this entire process, I think there were four schools that he originally had down; Notre Dame, Minnesota, Iowa and Miami. Then Oklahoma and Maryland were being tossed around.
So when the Notre Dame thing fell apart, we moved Minnesota up (the visit date), because it was close, and then we went to Iowa. Then that third visit, we were going to go to Oklahoma, then to Miami and always waiting to see what would happen with Notre Dame.
I have to be honest and say that of all the schools that Rafael was visiting, Iowa was the only school that seemed to be applying a little bit of pressure, if you can even call it that. They had kind of made it known to us that they only had two or three slots left and they were going to operate on a first come, first served basis.
I had mentioned to Kirk while we were there that we as parents would support our son's desire to take all of his visits, and that we knew that you only had those slots left and that we were hoping that Rafael could take his visits before he made his decision. If those slots were filled and Rafael could not come to Iowa, we thanked them for the opportunity, etc.
Kirk started to say something, but then my son had asked him to leave the room and the next thing you know, he was committed.
Were you surprised that Rafael committed then and there, sort of wavering from the plan all of you had somewhat put into place with regards to him taking all of his visits before making a decision, something that Rafael was quoted as saying on numerous occasions during the fall?
A little. We knew that to have the Iowa crowd cheering for the boys at the basketball game, and Doering had told him that he was going to silently commit, and as Saturday rolled around, I think that Dace was starting to weaken and then he committed.
We were not disappointed with his decision to commit at all. When we got home, we started to wonder if he might not have wonder in his mind someday along the lines of, ‘Gee, I could have gone to Notre Dame, but I will never know because I never took the visit.'
As parents, we felt that he had committed without fully seeing things through the way we had all always talked about. The day after we got back from Iowa, Notre Dame had hired Charlie Weiss and Charlie called Rafael immediately. So we encouraged him just to take the visit so that he would not find himself in a situation where he would second-guess himself for the rest of his life.
We wanted him to visit and compare and make his decision.
I think what happened is that the Iowa visit had a much larger impact on him than he thought. From a parent's perspective…I went to a small private college here in Saint Paul and his mother also went to a private college. We know the advantages of having a private college education and what that means.
The teacher to student ratio at Notre Dame is like 13 or 14 to 1. That is hard as a parent to not encourage your child to at least visit them, when it's something that he had talked about doing for so long.
Coming back from Notre Dame, it got tough for him. I think it impacted him more than he thought it was going to.
Again, from a parent's perspective, we helped him talk it through. When it came down to the nuts and bolts and all of the variables that the kids have to look at…I kept asking him how connected he felt to the other young men that were committing to Iowa. He has a friend that goes to Notre Dame that he played high school with.
I played football at Macalester and I know what it's like to be a part of a group. When he expressed to me that it was important to him, I said ‘well son, if that is how you feel, then you need to go to Iowa.' Because as a parent, if you feel confident that your son will gel with some other young men and be a part of a great group, it becomes an exciting thing. Not only can he thrive on the football field due to that, that same enthusiasm will flow out of that and he will thrive in the academic situation at Iowa, also.
Our desire as parents is for our child to thrive no matter where they go, and if he feels Iowa is the place for him, then any perceptions we may have regarding a degree from Notre Dame and the networking possibilities that could come out of that is overridden.
There was never anything against Iowa. We just wanted him to take the proper degree of due diligence, which was always the plan from the outset. We have always been happy with Iowa.
Rafael had a total of 15 or 16 offers, and when we as a family would sit down and as an exercise, we all put down our five schools, and Minnesota, Iowa and Notre Dame were the only three that we all put down. Iowa was always high on our list, also.
When he committed to Iowa, we were not disappointed that, we were just a little shocked that he didn't take all of his visits. We just wanted him to get rid of any second guesses down the road.
Now he has worked this through, and his mother and myself are happy. The idea of him being at Iowa, being a Hawkeye and being a part of this group of kids that he has met makes me very comfortable with him being there. I think for him to be a part of this group that he has gotten to know a bit is special.
I mean, when Iowa made that play in the Capital One Bowl, five seconds did not go by and Rafael's cell phone went off and it was Dace Richardson. They were hooting and hollering and he hangs up and a minute later his phone rings again, and it's Dan Doering.
When a father sees that, I just think these kids are going to thrive and have a hell of an experience for the next four or five years. I am very excited to have a chance to see that and see all of them grow.
In my nearly six years of covering recruiting, I have never seen such a ‘rat pack' type of bond between so many prospects as what Iowa had this year, something that your son was a part of.
This is our first experience with all of this, but Iowa's strategy worked.
When they invited us down there for the Iowa-Ohio State game, they invited Doering, Dace, Jake and some other kids and they had them all together. That gave them an opportunity to meet. I think Rafael gained a lot of respect for them while they were there, and I clicked with their fathers.
Then they had them down there for the football banquet, it just gave them an unreal experience. I have never seen anything like that, either.
So we are happy, because to see your son impacted so much by a school, by coaches and by his peers, it is neat. It was hard to see him go through this last week, as it was hard on him.
But in the end, Iowa is the place that he needs to be.