Veteran recruiting analyst Tom Lemming does not foresee racial allegations affecting Iowa football recruiting
By Tyler Devine
IOWA CITY, Iowa – While it remains to be seen how the allegations of racial inequality will impact the Iowa football team on the recruiting trail, veteran college football recruiting analyst Tom Lemming does not think Iowa will be negatively affected.
Lemming, who has been a recruiting analyst for over 40 years, joined Friday’s HawkFanatic radio show to share his thoughts on the subject.
“I don’t think there’s any – there’s no backlash from what happened with Chris and all that as of yet,” Lemming said. “I’m not really even sure if it is going to happen. They do their usual good job. They’re the best evaluators in the country and then they’re the best developers, that’s the reason.
“But they’re having a real good year for 2021 and I don’t see it ending. They’ve got a good number of guys committed. I don’t see them losing too many. The kids they got out of Chicago I think really is a good testimony to (head coach) Kirk Ferentz’s name here in Chicago, his draw.”
Former offensive lineman James Daniels first brought attention to possible racial inequality on June 3 when he tweeted that a culture change was needed at Iowa.
Daniels opened the door for over 40 other former players that spoke out about their personal experiences at Iowa, most of which centered around strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.
Since then, Iowa Doyle reached a separation agreement on June 15 and an independent review is currently being conducted by a Kansas City law firm.
Lemming said that Iowa sent a clear message by parting ways with Doyle that will make it difficult for other schools to use the allegations against Iowa while recruiting players.
“How could they?” Lemming said. “Chris Doyle has been let go. Not that he was a racist, I think he’s been judged unfairly a little bit, too. I think everybody is overreacting to a lot of these. Some are obvious and some, like Chris Doyle, they’re not obvious. They are I think overreactions, in my opinion. But he’s gone now, so how could they say that.
“Anybody that knows Kirk Ferentz knows that’s not true. And I think once the players sit down and see him it’s going to work out just fine. The other schools will use it against them because that’s what college football coaches do. They sit down, they break bread together, they have fun, they laugh. As soon as they leave, they stab each other in the back. That’s part of recruiting.”
Lemming even went as far as to make a comparison to former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who was accused, and eventually convicted, of child sexual abuse.
It was thought that Penn State’s program could suffer immensely from a recruiting standpoint.
But other than a few early setbacks, Penn State has since rebounded and is back to routinely having one of the best recruiting classes in the country, including its 2021 class which is currently ranked No. 20 nationally by Rivals.com.
“It won’t be any concern after this year,” Lemming said. “Ballplayers – I’ve been doing this since 1978-79 – they’ve probably got the attention span of six months. I can remember when you had the Jerry Sandusky situation at Penn State. Tim Brando who was working with us at the time with CBS Sports, he had said that it was going to end Penn State football, they’ll never come back. I kind of disagreed and said as soon as they’re able to play bowl games again they’ll be back, which is exactly what happened with (Bill) O’Brien. And so, with Shapiro down in Miami, same situation, it was going to end all of football. As soon as they’re back in the bowl games they’re back.
“And Iowa’s not missing out on their bowl games or anything else, so it’s not going to hurt them at all. It’ll be forgotten completely by this time next year. There are other things to worry about like Coronavirus, and how long coach Ferentz is going to continue staying, I think that’s important.”
It is likely that some parents of recruits will have concerns about sending their sons to play at Iowa, but Lemming had high praise for Ferentz and said that he would send his kids to play at Iowa in a heartbeat.
“I always considered Kirk Ferentz one of the great ones,” Lemming said. “He’s one of the really good, honest people that I’ve ever run into. And I’ve met almost every single coach in football, college and pro and high school. And I would have to put him in the top one percent to be honest with you. He’s been that nice and that good of a person.
“Kirk’s around my age, so sometimes you can be a little bit the way you were trained back when you were 17, 18, 19 years old. He’s a better person than I am, I’ve never had a bad thought about him. So, I believe that this is an overreaction and things will settle down and he’ll go on to coach for another five to 10 years.”
2022 Indianapolis receiver Javon Tracy, who received a scholarship offer from Iowa on Friday, said that he is not concerned about the allegations and that the situation could make Iowa better in the long run.
Tracy’s brother, Tyrone Tracy, is a sophomore receiver at Iowa.
“I’m glad it happened because those types of things is what makes a team more together and like a family,” Javon Tracy said. “It’s only going to make them stronger and better.”
Lemming also praised Iowa’s 2021 recruiting class, which currently stands at 17 verbal commitments and is ranked No. 11 nationally by Rivals.com.
Lemming pointed to offensive lineman David Davidkov and Beau Stephens, linebacker Justice Sullivan and defensive lineman Jeremiah Pittman as important pieces of the class.
“(Davidkov is) a big-time tackle, could play for anybody in the country,” Lemming said. “I really like Jeremiah Pittman. I thought Jeremiah – he’s a defensive end, defensive tackle – he’s a big kid, he can run. I think they could develop him into an All-American, he’s got that type of ability.
“Getting Justice Sullivan out of Minnesota was a big good catch for them, as was Beau Stephens from Missouri, two players that were heavily recruited. Overall, it’s an outstanding class, a typical Iowa class, I think they always do well. As long as Kirk Ferentz is at the helm they’re always going to do well because I think he makes sure that he gets assistant coaches that know that know how to evaluate first, and obviously once they get to Iowa City they know how to develop them.”