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Betting on College Football Coaches: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz

Betting on College Football Coaches: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz

Betting on college football coaches is an important aspect of the handicapping puzzle. GoSooners aptly explains this concept in his article Before You Place Your Bets – You Better Know Your Coaches.

Iowa Hawkeyes and the NFL

The 2012 NFL draft is in the books and only Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma had more players drafted than the Iowa Hawkeyes. For the third consecutive season Iowa had six players selected in the draft, something only Alabama can share claim to in all of college football.

Based on this year’s draft results Iowa moved from 7th to 6th in The College Football Matrix’s updated NFL Draft Count vs Recruiting Rank Ratio. In other words, based on players drafted compared to their national recruiting rank, only 5 teams in the country are doing a better job than the Hawkeyes.

Updated NFL Recruiting Draft Rank
National Draft Draft Composite Rank vs
Ratio Rank Team Picks Rank ’02 – ’09 Recruiting Rank
1 Cincinnati 21 31 80 49
2 Utah 22 30 72 42
3 TCU 21 31 66 35
4 Wisconsin 34 13 48 35
5 Boise State 17 44 74 30
6 Iowa 34 13 38 25
Note: The higher the number between Draft Rank vs Recruiting Rank, the better the overall National Ratio Rank. In the chart above Cincinnati is # 1 because they have a Draft Rank vs Recruiting Rank of 49 (Recruiting Rank: 80 – Draft Rank: 31 = 49).

So why isn’t Iowa winning more games?

And more importantly, as a college football handicapper, if Iowa is sending more players to the NFL than their recruiting rank would indicate they should, wouldn’t it stand to reason that they were also winning at a higher percentage than they should, and in turn performing better ATS?

This definitely has not been the case for the Hawkeyes between 2005 and 2011. As the following chart indicates, not only does Iowa have the lowest straight up win % than the top 6, they also have the lowest ATS win % too:

Updated NFL Recruiting Draft Rank
National Draft Draft Composite Rank vs SU ATS
Ratio Rank Team Picks Rank ’02 – ‘-09 Recruiting Rank Wins % Wins %
1 Cincinnati 21 31 80 49 66.29% 51.81%
2 Utah 22 30 72 42 72.22% 53.01%
3 TCU 21 31 66 35 85.56% 60.00%
4 Wisconsin 34 13 48 35 76.09% 54.65%
5 Boise State 17 44 74 30 89.13% 58.82%
6 Iowa 34 13 38 25 60.67% 50.00%

When Betting on College Football Coaches, Kirk Ferentz is OVERRATED

Clearly coaching is an important variable when trying to determine why some of these schools are able to do more with less.

However, based on The College Football Matrix’s Big 10 Coaching Effect, Ron Zook was the only Big 10 coach who had a worse coaching effect in games than Kirk Ferentz. And as we all know, nobody could do less with more than The Zooker, which is why he is no longer roaming the Illinois sidelines.

Coaching Coaching Coaching
Coaching Effect Effect Effect Total
Effect Home Road Trend Annual Home
Team Coach (Games) (Games) (Games) 4 Yr Max Average Avg/Yr
Northwestern Fitzgerald – ’06 +11  +1  +10  4  +2.75  0.25
Michigan State Dantonio ’07 +7  +3  +4  4  +1.75  0.75
Wisconsin Bielema – ’06 +2  +2  0  4  0.50  0.50
Penn State Paterno – ’66 -1  -1  0  4  -0.25  -0.25
Purdue Hope – ’09 -1  -2  1  2  -0.50  -1.00
Nebraska Pelini -’08 -3  -3  0  3  -1.00  -1.00
Iowa Ferentz – ’98 -4  -2  -2  4  -1.00  -0.50
Illinois Zook -’05 -10  -5  -5  4  -2.50  -1.25
Minnesota Kill -’11 NA  NA  NA  NA  –  –
Michigan Hoke – ;11 NA  NA  NA  NA  –  –
Indiana Wilson – ’11 NA  NA  NA  NA  –  –
Ohio State Fickell – ’11 NA  NA  NA  NA  –  –
Betting on college football coaches - Iowa & the NFL Draft 2012

Iowa - NFL Draft 2012

Kirk Ferentz and his coaching staff obviously do a good job of evaluating talent and recruiting said talent. And based on the results of the number of players they are sending to the NFL, they also appear to have the ability to develop the talent they are recruiting.

But they are not maximizing their stellar recruiting efforts by producing enough wins straight up and they are definitely overrated against the spread. Ferentz’s negative in game coaching effect is bringing down Iowa’s talent, even if it is NFL talent.

So based on the numbers, if betting on college football coaches is one of the strategies you use when handicapping games, proceed with caution when considering Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Please let me know your thoughts or opinions on Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes in the comment section below. Thanks – Pez.


11 Responses to “Betting on College Football Coaches: Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz”

  1. Troy Steger says:

    Interesting data Pezgordo!

    As a hawkeye fan, I can attest to the reasons behind – this dispropriate “Talent development” and “Wins: Especially vs. the Spread”. Kirk Ferentz is as conservative as it comes – and his coach style causing games that should be blowouts on paper to be close (but on the opposite side – we rarely get blown out).

    So we develope lots of talent (mostly at what is considered non-skill positions)….but we squelch that talent by running a vanilla offense and defense.

    But, I’m not complaining…I behind each and every Hawkeye coach. Kirk has done a great job – just hasn’t won the close ones like he used to…if we keep turning out NFL caliber talent, we’ll continue to recruit talent.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Troy, thanks for commenting and thanks for sharing your opinion.

      I did a quick check on Iowa’s performance ATS since 2005 as a dog or a short favorite (3 points or less) and they were 17-14 for a respectable 54.8%. So you are definitely right about Ferentz and the Hawkeyes having more value in those situations as opposed to being (bigger) favorites.

      You are correct about Iowa recruiting talent and developing them. I just found it interesting that despite all this NFL talent the Hawkeyes (or Ferentz) has underperformed the last 4 of 5 years on the field – Pez.

  2. Ray Guy says:

    Iowa’s most recent draft picks represented a 4-year program record of 35-17, including winning 3/4 bowl games over solid to outstanding opponents. The formulas may not show K.F. doing as much with the NFL caliber talent (that he works to develop) as some people would like to see, but the actual results are not as dismal as indicated.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Hi Ray, for some reason I thought you would be more of a Southern Miss fan than an Iowa one ….. Just kidding.

      I do not believe the article and the referenced numbers indicate (or suggest) dismal results. The main point I was trying to make was that based on Iowa’s recruiting rank and their NFL draft rank, they are not winning as many games as they should compared to other programs.

      Wisconsin is a perfect example. Based on the updated numbers, Iowa and Wisconsin have an identical draft rank of # 13. However, Iowa’s recruiting rank is better than Wisconsin’s, # 25 vs # 35. Yet Wisconsin has won 76.09% of their games vs Iowa’s 60.67% (2005 thru 2011).

      And in the 4-year period you mention, Wisconsin’s record is 39-14 = 73.6% (vs Iowa’s 35-17 = 67.3%) and they have been to 2 BCS Bowl games (albeit both losses) vs Iowa’s 1.

      Of the Top 15 Teams on the CFBMatrix’s NFL Draft Count vs Recruiting Rank Ratio, only Miami underachieved worse than Iowa. Miami fired Randy Shannon.

      I am not suggesting that Iowa fire Kirk Ferentz. I am just saying that based on the information available, Ferentz and Iowa are recruiting and developing players at a high level, but those efforts are not having the effect on the W/L record like they should.

      If your recruiting is high level and your player development is high level, than what is left in the equation for winning on the field? Coaching?

      At least that is the way I am seeing it. Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate the feedback. – Pez.

      • Todd says:

        Having seen all of this data a logical conclusion would seem to be to let Kirk handle everything outside of gameday. Let the coordinators devise the game plan and execute it- let Kirk just stand by and be a proud papa. 🙂

  3. DonnyDonovan says:

    I know it is the hope of many, if not all Iowa fans that this year’s offseason coaching staff shakeup, including replacing much-maligned OC Ken O’Keefe with former Texas OC Greg Davis, will bring some fresh ideas to the sideline and start to correct this very accurately-described disparity between apparent talent and wins on Saturday. As noted, Iowa’s record holds up very well against the Michigans, Michigan States and Penn States of the Big Ten. It’s the losses to Minnesota and Northwestern, teams Wisconsin routinely crushes, that cause Iowa fans to tear out their hair. Former Patriots assistant (and Kirk’s son) Brian Ferentz should also be a great addition to the staff and may even have the head coach’s ear just a bit more than most. Iowa has good young talent in the program and even though 2013 appears to be a bit of a transition year the pieces are in place for another run in the next few years. Let’s hope it happens or it might be KF’s last stand.

  4. DonnyDonovan says:

    I meant 2012.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      I agree that 2012 will be a transition year for Iowa. I am working on a “Season wins total” article for the Hawkeyes right now and I see them winning 7 to 8 games (regular season).

      After 3 straight years of 6 NFL draft selections, including a first rounder in each of those drafts, I don’t believe Iowa has the talent this season to match those draft numbers in the 2013 draft.

      There does not appear to be any first round talent on hand this season and early draft projections (which of course can be wrong) are saying the third round is where the first Hawkeye can expect to hear his name called.

      As for Davis at OC, we will have to see how that goes. I do know that some of the Big 12 people I correspond with didn’t have a lot of good things to say about him. Hopefully he is a good fit for Iowa.

      Thank you for the comments.

  5. Crapgame says:

    Iowa has always been risky betting on because of the conservative offense. They always play at the level of their opponent. I think there is some real truth to the coaching being the factor. Now you have to give coach credit for the recruits he is picking up but I think Iowa lacks speed demons at WR. Why would a top WR go to Iowa with the offense they are running? I watch Iowa every year and they can be very tricky betting on. You have maybe a 3 week window where they are playing really good on both sides of the ball. This is where you can go 2-1 ATS on them.

    • Pezgordo Pezgordo says:

      Hey Crapgame, I think you are spot-on about the Iowa offense being too conservative and especially about the WR position. Wasn’t McNutt Iowa’s all-time leading receiver and he still only went 6th in the NFL draft? Which proves your point that the Hawkeye receivers are not necessarily playmaker types.

      I usually like to look to bet Iowa when they are short favorites or underdogs, especially at home. They just don’t seem to do well in the favorite roll.

      Thanks for your comment. – Pez.


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