By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa - On Wednesday afternoon, Kirk Ferentz will step to a podium inside the Iowa Football Complex and answer questions from the media about his latest recruiting class.
He will praise and congratulate Iowa’s newest recruits, and his coaches and support staff for working hard to make Wednesday’s early signing day a huge success.
And Ferentz won’t be alone.
Every college head coach will do the exact same thing on Wednesday because national signing day, even the early one, brings out the best in everybody.
The glass isn’t just half full on national signing day, it’s spilling over the sides with hope, optimism and confidence.
And that’s even true at Rutgers, and at Kansas, especially at lowly Kansas where former Louisiana State head coach Les Miles was hired recently to rebuild the perennial conference doormat. It doesn't matter that Kansas only has seven players currently committed to its 2019 class because all seven will be described as being great additions on signing day.
And there is always the traditional signing day in February for Miles to add more recruits.
The hiring of a new head coach is probably the only thing that creates more hope, optimism and buzz than national signing day does.
Ferentz is actually pretty conservative and careful with what he says to the media on national signing day. He speaks highly of the recruits because that’s what head coaches do on national signing day, but he doesn’t get carried away with his praise.
He doesn’t make bold statements or wild predictions about recruits because Ferentz is always a team-first guy, even on national signing day where the focus is on the individuals.
Iowa is expected to sign at least 18 recruits on Wednesday, including a quarterback from Colorado (Alex Padilla), who turned down a scholarship offer from Georgia; a running back from Georgia (Tyler Goodson), who turned down an offer from Michigan; and a linebacker from Ohio (Jestin Jacobs) who turned down a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes.
See, even I’m getting in signing-day mode by accentuating the positives about Iowa’s 2019 recruiting class.
Signing day, more than anything, is a nationwide celebration where only the good matters for at least one day.
But just once wouldn’t you like to see a head coach say the hell with decorum and paint a different picture on signing day?
I know it’ll never happen, but it still is fun to picture it going something like this:
Head coach: "I’d like to welcome everybody to our signing day press conference and thank you for your interest in our program. I can confirm that we have received all of the signed letters of intent that we were expecting to receive, but we’re not celebrating because this group is average at best, on and off the field.
At least two-thirds of the class are what we call fallback recruits, and a fallback recruit for those who aren’t familiar with the term is somebody you settle for after failing to land the players that you really wanted at each position.
We have way too many fallbacks in this class and I blame that mostly on my assistant coaches for being lazy and disconnected. My assistants, I’m sorry to say, couldn’t sell hope to a lottery winner.
Okay, I’ll take your questions."
Question: Given your opening statement, what concerns you the most about the class?
Head coach: Everything. We’re short on athleticism, size, depth, character, toughness and intelligence. Did I miss anything?
Question: Why do you think that is?
Head coach: Because in a lot of ways we suck when it comes to recruiting. My assistant coaches are about as connected as Tom Hanks’ character in “Castaway” or as Bob Knight is to Indiana.
Question: What do you like the most about this class?
Head coach: I've picked up several great recipes from the grandmothers and from the mothers of some of the recruits and now my wife is a much better cook.
Question: Where do you go from here?
Head coach: I’m going home to spend some time with my wife and kids because I’ve just wasted the last 51 ½ weeks assembling this sorry excuse for a recruiting class, and nobody has suffered from it more than my family. And I'm sorry to say the fans will, too, eventually.
Question: You didn’t sign a quarterback in this class. Was that by design?
Head coach: That’s a stupid question because it certainly wasn’t by design. My only explanation for not signing a quarterback is that you have to be pretty smart to play quarterback, so maybe we couldn’t find a quarterback dumb enough to join our class.
Question: Do you see any of the new recruits playing next season?
Head coach: Sure. If they all appeal for another year to stay in high school and win the appeal.
Question: What are your thoughts on the early signing day with this being the second year for it?
Head coach: I don’t like it because it happens before Christmas and puts me in a rotten mood in which the only cure is drinking lots of egg nog and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” over and over while feeling bloated due to the heaviness from the egg nog.
Okay, back to reality where all is well.
It is important to remember that Wednesday is the first of two national signing days with the second scheduled for the first Wednesday in February, which is the traditional signing day.
So all of these recruiting classes will only get better as they add more pieces.
The three recruits I already have mentioned in this column are intriguing because all three of them turned down a blue blood program to stay committed to Iowa and because two of them - Padilla and Goodson - come from states where Iowa rarely recruits in Colorado and Georgia, respectively.
Hawkeye fans always love it when a recruit turns down a blue blood to play for Iowa and that love will contribute greatly to the festive atmosphere on national signing day.