Here we go again.
Greg Garmon rushed for 3 yards against Minnesota on Sept. 29 when the Hawks and Gophers met in Iowa City. (Justin O'Brien/Voice of the Hawkeyes)
As first reported this afternoon by Pennsylvania-based 247Sports recruiting analyst Bob Lichtenfels, Iowa has lost yet another running back following the decision by Greg Garmon to transfer.
So what’s it mean for Iowa other than a slew of references to a fictional deity that purportedly sets his sights on bringing harm and misfortune to Hawkeye running backs?
First off, yes, it’s hard to ignore the fact Iowa has seen an inordinately high number of running backs wash out of the program since its 2010 Orange Bowl championship. Heck, just in the past 12 months the Hawks watched Mika’il McCall (Southern Illinois), Marcus Coker (Stony Brook) and De’Andre Johnson (Dismissed) precede Garmon in exiting the program. You can add Rodney Coe to the list if you’d like as well, a non-qualifier who landed at Iowa Western Community College where he moved to the defensive line and subsequently earned a scholarship to rival Iowa State.
Yeah, it’s beyond ridiculous at this point that a program like Iowa could have, and has, suffered such attrition at one very vital position in such a short amount of time. However, perspective is the key here. Coe could have been a Hawkeye had he done his work in the classroom. No one forced Johnson to have two separate run-ins with Johnson County law enforcement over the summer, the second of which led to his dismissal from the team. McCall chose to leave the program after serving a late-season suspension for violating team rules in 2011 despite working his way back from a serious knee injury suffered in the team’s opener against Tennessee Tech. Now Garmon is leaving because, as he put it to Lichtenfels, he wants to find a better fit.
"I just didn't feel comfortable here anymore with the offense,” said Garmon, who rushed for 122 yards on 38 carries. “It is a power offense and I am not a power type of a back. I'm more of a scat-back type guy.”
Let’s no overlook the fact Garmon’s brief Iowa career didn’t exactly get off on the best of feet after he was picked up by police in his hometown over the summer and charged with simple possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance. Garmon wasn’t suspended for the incident but it couldn’t have sat well with Kirk Ferentz and there was likely some form of internal punishment for the transgression.
Entering spring ball Garmon must have also taken note of a crowded depth chart headlined by Mark Weisman, who enjoyed a Rudy-like ascension to folk hero after injuries forced him to move from fullback to tailback. Jordan Canzeri, sophomore Damon Bullock and fellow freshman Barkley Hill and Michael Malloy figured to be in the mix as well as walk-on Andre Dawson. At best, Garmon would have began the spring as the No. 2 back behind Weisman or, more likely, No. 3 behind Weisman and Canzeri/Bullock, who seems to be a slightly better fit for what Ferentz and much-maligned offensive coordinator Greg Davis are looking to do in the running game.
Stepping back and viewing the situation with a wider lens this isn’t a huge shocker. Kids sometimes see the writing on the wall and look for a situation where playing time may be easier to come by or where they can see themselves being more of a factor for a longer period of time. That’s probably the case with Garmon who, in addition to not fitting in well with the type of offense Iowa runs, would have likely had to wait for injuries to at least two other backs or simply out-work and out-perform both in practice in order to see the field. Who knows what the Iowa backfield would look like in Garmon’s final two years on campus – especially given the uncertainty at that position in recent years – but that’s irrelevant now.
Where Iowa will suffer the most from Garmon’s loss won’t likely be on the field but along the recruiting trail. It’s a cut-throat business when it comes to landing top high school talent and coaches will likely jump at the opportunity to play up Iowa’s latest bad news to any running back considering an offer from the Hawkeyes. They don’t have to tell the exact truth or present a broader picture to a recruit and their parents, all they need to do is mention Iowa’s perceived issues with keeping running backs happy and sit back with tented hands while selling the virtues of their own program.
Of course, it's not like that's all opposing coaches will have to use against Iowa in whatever living room they find themselves in between now and signing day. A 4-8 record, Iowa's worst since 2000, speaks for itself to the perceived state of the program as Ferentz prepares to enter his 15th season as coach. The Hawks, quite frankly, have bigger fish to fry than the one swimming away to a new pond.
Greg Garmon has moved on. Ferentz and Iowa have likely moved on. The media will eventually move on. Fans should do the same. There’s nothing to see here other than another kid who believes there’s a better opportunity for him somewhere else. How many grown men have we seen exercise that same approach in college football over the past couple weeks?
But that’s looking at this rationally and where’s the fun in that?
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