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Harty: Pierschbacher’s switch to Alabama is the latest sign of Iowa being irrelevant in football

[ 0 ] August 12, 2013 |

Offensive lineman Ross Pierschbacher had lots of reasons to stay committed to the Iowa football program, but they weren’t enough to offset the one reason he didn’t have.

Pierschbacher ended months of speculation by switching his commitment from Iowa to two-time defending national champion Alabama. The Cedar Falls native, who first committed to Iowa in January, announced his decision Sunday night in an e-mail in which he thanked Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz for giving him the opportunity to be a part of the Iowa program.

Pierschbacher also praised Iowa for being a top-notch program and for having outstanding people and great tradition.

He then concluded his email by saying he had switched his commitment from Iowa to Alabama after considering his options and what was most important to him, his family and his future.

Pierschbacher’s de-commitment is the latest fallout from Iowa finishing 4-8 last season. It’s the ultimate snub and yet another example of how Iowa has become irrelevant on the big stage.

It’s bad enough when one prognosticator after another picks Iowa to finish in fifth or sixth place in the six-team Big Ten Legends Division, as is the case heading into the 2013 season.

But to lose a stud offensive lineman from in-state who grew up cheering for the Hawkeyes strikes at the very core of Iowa football under Ferentz. It would be easier to accept an immensely gifted offensive skill player from Iowa turning down a chance to play for the Hawkeyes in order to join forces with a juggernaut in a warm-weather climate because Ferentz isn’t known for producing skill players.

His area of expertise is the offensive line, and he has the results to prove it with success stories such as Marshal Yanda, Bruce Nelson and Robert Gallery. All three of them grew up in Iowa and flourished under Ferentz.

Iowa not-so-long ago was considered perhaps the best place in college football to reach your potential as an offensive lineman. That reputation has since been tainted by Iowa losing 17 of its last 29 games dating back to late in the 2010 season.

It’s unlikely Pierschbacher would’ve turned down Iowa a decade ago, when the program was thriving under Ferentz. A decade is a lifetime in recruiting, though.

Pierschbacher apparently doesn’t trust the direction of the Iowa program, or perhaps he was just blown away by the opportunity to be a part of a Nick Saban’s dynasty at Alabama. Or maybe it was a little of both.

Whatever the case, there is no crying in recruiting.

Ferentz will remind his assistant coaches that one player doesn’t make a recruiting class, even if that one player lives about 75 miles from the University of Iowa campus and is considered one of the top high school offensive linemen in the country.

Ferentz also will remind his assistants that winning is the only way to correct the problem.

Unfortunately for Hawkeye fans, Pierschbacher apparently isn’t willing to risk the chance of that not happening during his time in college. Making matters worse from a perception standpoint is the fact that the state of Iowa’s other consensus top-100 recruit — Urbandale receiver Allen Lazard — appears willing to stick with his commitment to the Cyclones.

It would be easy to rip Pierschbacher for being disloyal and indecisive, but he’s only doing what is best for him. He wants to join a program that is virtually assured of being in the national title hunt, which hardly describes Iowa at this stage.

But on the other hand, Pierschbacher’s commitment to Alabama won’t become official until he signs a national letter of intent in February.

It’s now up to Ferentz to give Pierschbacher a reason to change his mind again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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