Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ouch! IU's NFL draft history ...

In anticipation of the NFL draft this week (perhaps the last event in the history of pro football?), there’s been a lot of articles looking at the history of the draft this week. Tonight, I looked at the charts in this article:

which detail how many NFL players, and how many first-round draft picks, each Division I school in America has produced in the last ten years.

As an Indiana University graduate and casual football fan, I’ve usually had the sense that my alma mater is always a couple bricks shy of a load … it seems like every year, IU is three plays away from winning three close games that would turn a 4-7 season into a bowl season.

But if you measure a college program by its ability to recruit, and/or develop, NFL talent, IU is a lot further away from the middle of the pack – let alone the top – than I ever realized.

With 10 NFL draft picks and no first rounders in the last 10 years, IU is dead last in the Big Ten – not even close to 10th-place Northwestern (16 and 2).

In the SEC, of course, they’d be no better … Vanderbilt’s 14 and 2 would trump them, as would Mississippi State’s 18 and 0, and Kentucky’s 18 and 1.

Surprisingly, they would be even less competitive in the Pac 10, where Washington State’s 17 and 1, and Stanford’s 33 and 1, are the only programs even remotely as futile as IU.

Big Twelve? Close. IU almost matches Iowa State, which has produced 11 NFL draft picks and no first rounders; or Baylor, with 9 and 1.

Well okay, the ACC. They’re not a football conference. And sure enough, IU is better at producing pro talent than … Duke, which has produced 2 NFL draft picks, neither of them first-rounders. But IU would still finish way behind Wake Forest (19 and 2) and everyone else in this basketball league.

The decimated, national-joke Big East? Nope. UConn, which may not even have been playing Division I football for the entire decade, has produced one more NFL draft pick and one more first-rounder than IU. Cincinnati is next worst with more than twice as many NFL picks as IU.

So, out of the 65 schools in the six BCS ‘power conferences,’ IU finishes next to last – ahead of private-school Duke and behind Iowa State – in producing NFL talent.

So, in which conference would IU be competitive?

The Mountain West? They would trounce Air Force (no NFL players; they don’t fit in the cockpits) and Wyoming (4 and none); but would slightly trail Colorado State and UNLV for seventh place in the nine-team league.

How about Conference USA? They do slightly better than Houston, Rice, SMU, and Tulsa, but rank behind East Carolina, Marshall, Memphis, Southern Miss, Tulane, UCF, and UTEP. IU would be in the bottom half of Conference USA.

The WAC? Well, they’re no match for Boise State or Fresno State or Hawaii (all between 13 and 20 NFL picks, and 1 and 3 first-rounders), but they could give Idaho (7 and 1) or Louisiana Tech (9 and 0) a good run for fourth.

Well, good grief, the MAC. Yes, IU could be competitive in the MAC. No MAC school can match IU’s ten NFL players in the last decade … although a few of them can claim a first-rounder to go along with their other NFL picks (Miami’s 9, Northern Illinois’ and Central Michigan’s 7). IU could regularly compete with these three schools for the MAC’s Motor City Bowl berth.

This isn’t so much a rant or a complaint, as an admission of shock. Frankly, I would have expected Indiana to rank firmly in the bottom third of all the schools in the so-called “power conferences” – but not at the very bottom (save Duke), and not merely in the middle of the “mid-major” conferences. Given IU’s inability to attract NFL-calibre talent, I’m frankly amazed they’ve been as competitive as they have.