All This Could Have Been Ours

Submitted by Brian on July 23rd, 2008 at 12:14 PM

I still believe Kirk Ferentz was someone's first choice to be Michigan's next head coach. We'll never know, but the preponderance of rumormongering from here and elsewhere is hard to deny absent any contradictory hypotheses.

From a neutral perspective, Ferentz was a weird first option. He was successful... three years ago. Because of that rapidly receding success he was paid six kazillion dollars a year. And he was way ethical if you ignore the spate of questionable characters he recruited over the past few years and the housing scam he ran with his son.

But by God, he looked like an honest man. Nice jaw. Appealing salt-and-pepper hair. Aura of calm politeness at all times. Super hot daughters and strapping lad sons. People began to question his performance, but most of the opinion directed at Iowa's extended run of Facebook terrorism was meta-criticism: "isn't it weird no one's giving Iowa heat"?

Ladies and gentlemen: heat. This Iowa stuff that's gone down? Heavy. In sum:

  • Cedric Everson (remember him?) and Abe Satterfield allegedly have nonconsensual sex with another Iowa athlete.
  • The university suspends and eventually boots Everson and Satterfield, but pressures the victim into handling it "in house," allows Everson to move in with his girlfriend(!) three doors down from the victim, and generally appears to have no inclination towards actually doing something until the victim files formal charges.
  • Some recruit is chased by eight cops whilst naked, racking up Iowa's 634th arrest in the last three years.

The mother of the victim was so incensed she released a scathing letter originally sent to Iowa eight months after she originally sent it. This is the money quote:

"University of Iowa's character was non-existent. It is disappointing to say the very least," the alleged victim's mother said in a phone interview. "We were told the school will take care of it. We will keep it in house. We will be swift. We will be just, and you don't have to worry about it."

And this is the money quote about Kirk Ferentz, Michigan's probable first choice coach in November:

Speaking of dorm rooms, the alleged assault occurred in a "ghost room," registered to a third player but unoccupied. After the incident, according to affadavits obtained by the Press-Citizen, Ferentz ordered the player to reoccupy the room, and a different player moved into the room as well. The room was never secured, evidence was never gathered from it, and the incoming players cleaned all the mess from the alleged assault. [mess including a used condom and sheets with an "orangish-reddish" substance on them -ed]

When I read the Press-Citizen article the first time around I thought it was a case of university bureaucracy exhibiting spectacular stupidity, not malice. This is not. It certainly appears like the behavior of the athletic department -- keep it "in house" because Iowa's got a first class prison right next to the chem building, throw away the evidence contained in the ghost room, keep it vague in the media -- was mostly concerned with whether or not they could salvage the careers of two defensive backs.

Black Heart, Gold Pants has been calling for mass resignations, and I'm not quite there. But Kirk Ferentz is alleged to have instructed two football players to destroy evidence in a rape case involving another football player occupy a room he knew was a crime scene. [Update: clarification; Ferentz probably didn't say "you go destroy that evidence"; he did tell someone to move into a room that he knew would be of police interest.] If that turns out to be true (since that information is based on affadavits given by the players who moved into the room, that's highly likely), Ferentz immediately sets up shop one level above Dave Bliss in coaching hell.

We've heard an awful lot about Rich Rodriguez's lack of character this offseason because he changed jobs, tried to reduce his buyout, and said some silly things about the truth coming out. This was despite a seven-year run without a hint of NCAA sanctions and repeated weak showings in the Fulmer Cup. Meanwhile, Iowa is imploding and it took the most serious allegations leveled at a college head coach since the Bliss incident for anyone to notice. If you hadn't listened to Kirk Ferentz and Rich Rodriguez, hadn't seen pictures of their wives, couldn't hear their accents, this would all be terribly mysterious.

But we have and it's not. The whispered accusation about Rodriguez -- he's a hillbilly -- is true. He shops at Costco and is only interested in Rudyard Kipling if he's 17 years old and benches 400 pounds. He makes goofy jokes at press conferences and occasionally says things you wish he hadn't. He does not inspire third-party confidence like Bo or even Lloyd did. He is not a titanic figure astride the globe, molding young men into little Academic All-American Adonises. He is resolutely, publicly human, full of venal sins. He is impossible to truly adore in the way college football fanbases wish to adore their proxy father figures. He punctures the "Michigan Man" myth every day. He, like Zaphod Beeblebrox, is just this guy, you know?

And, like, okay. I'm nearly 30. I have a father. I just want someone who will win football games and not utterly disgust me when the scales fall from my eyes and the preposterous lie is exposed for all to see. I prefer my heroes poor and uncertain of their future, anyway.

Comments

Ms. Wolverine

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:25 PM ^

A+ for the Hitchhiker's reference. I'm not sure the details really point to Ferentz actually instructing his players to destroy evidence, but allowing the crime scene to be so swiftly tainted is almost just as bad.

Oops Pow Surprise

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:27 PM ^

He told them to move back into the room, according to affadavits, not to "destroy evidence." Even the Johnson County AG is on record saying that nothing that happened amounts to obstruction of justice, which "evidence destruction" most definitely falls under.

We're calling for mass resignations, not mass firings. This isn't a matter of criminality or the minutiae of procedure. This is a human rights issue that goes way beyond Ferentz. This is an issue that involves how a university protects its most vulnerable students, NOT how a football coach runs amok.

C'mon, you're so much better than this, Brian.

Other Chris

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:47 PM ^

I don't think Ferentz was hoping they'd destroy evidence -- I think he never even considered whether there was any and whether it might be important.  Football coaches have no business making decisions about cases like this.  Someone in that mass of highly-compensated, alleged adults should have realized they were all in over their heads.

dex

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:33 PM ^

I think the implication was that Ferentz, who was not totally up to date on the situation, sent them to the room as "punishment" and thought he was doing the correct thing. Obviously, the responsibility still falls on Ferentz to understand the situation better, but I don't think he was trying to tell them to destroy the evidence.

patrickdolan

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:35 PM ^

This is very similar to the way Iowa handled the Pierre Pierce case a couple of years ago. This weekend, I was in a bar in Iowa City that displayed a bumper sticker that read, "Thank you, New Mexico." (For taking Steve Alford off our hands.) If Michigan had hired Ferentz away, there would be one that reads "Thank you, Michigan."

This is not the university's first chance to do the right thing by a woman who has been raped. And this is not the first time they've totally screwed it up. If what's alleged is true, and there was any justice, they'd fire everybody (and some people would go to jail for obstruction of justice) and then de-emphasize intercollegiate athletics until the athletic department proves it can get it right.

I don't think it diminishes the evil of what the young men are alleged to have done, to suggest that since we expect far more of the "adults," their shame is greater.

I'm ashamed to work here in a way that I've never been ashamed of being a UM alum. Dammit.

dex

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:36 PM ^

I just want someone who will win football games and not utterly disgust me when the scales fall from my eyes and the preposterous lie is exposed for all to see. I prefer my heroes poor and uncertain of their future, anyway. Welcome to The Revolution.

WolvinLA

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:41 PM ^

I have pictures of Kelly (my best friend in college was having relations with her, often). We're facebook friends. If someone tells me how, I can hook it up.

ctmaizenblue

July 23rd, 2008 at 4:06 PM ^

I agree, Kelly and Joanne have a right to their privacy and to not deserve to have internet junkies drooling over them, just 'cause daddy is head coach.

On a separate topic. . .

Brian. .  do you know the name of the girl modeling the MGoStore shirts on the side bar? 

 

big gay heart

July 23rd, 2008 at 12:49 PM ^

Nice work on this, Brian. I agree; being a good man and having a robust vocabulary and a cul-de-sac upbringing aren't mutually exclusive. Rich Rod's sort of hick, and that's alright. And, to me, Lloyd quoting forgotten Irish poets was just as embarrassing as public mention of the Lion King. It's like, really? If I went around dropping Ezra Pound and Francis Bacon references in my day-to-day life, people would look at me as pseudo-intellectual asshole with a small penis. And rightly so. Lloyd should have just bought a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and called it a day. @ Ooops Pow Surpise: You wrote We're calling for mass resignations, not mass firings. This isn't a matter of criminality or the minutiae of procedure. This is a human rights issue that goes way beyond Ferentz. This is an issue that involves how a university protects its most vulnerable students, NOT how a football coach runs amok. If the issue is, as you say, an institutional one, that would also seem to indict Ferentz. As a figurehead of the institution (along with the President and the AD and other positions of power), a football coach is absolutely linked to the greater institution. Him "running amok" is inherently problematic because he's a functionary of the greater institution. And, as said figurehead, how he chooses to conduct himself in relation to "protecting vulnerable students" is a reflection of the morals demonstrated by the institution as a whole. These aren't recruiting violations, these are moral violations. And morality, like it or not, is tied to the decisions made by controlling forces.

chitownblue (not verified)

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:01 PM ^

The irony in people obsessing about the rack of a woman they've never met in the comment section of a post about sexual assault is making me choke a little. BGH, if you read the BHGP piece on their site, they certainly include Ferentz in the pile of people whom they would like to see resign. I think OPS's point is that Brian's column focuses on Ferentz, where, in his opinion, Ferentz is one of several people who need to quit.

Tim Waymen

July 23rd, 2008 at 3:07 PM ^

Spare us the self-righteousness. There were like three posts concerning the potential attractiveness of an individual mentioned in Brian's post, which was not primarily about sexual assault. I was just wondering if one of the daughters in question was one that I knew had gone to Michigan and was a friend of a friend. The mention of breasts came up once in passing. This was gossip; not obsession. Making somewhat objectifying comments about a girl, though sexist, is far from trivializing, sanctioning, or even committing sexual assault, although I imagine that rape may very well be the product of objectifying and control-seeking mentalities.  I am no expert on the criminology or psychology of a rapist.

cfaller96

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:05 PM ^

I've been lurking at BlackHeartGoldPants watching this shitstorm unfold, and I fully agree with where the Iowa fans are coming from. To wit: administration officials did NOT follow procedure, they withheld important information from the Regents, and they have yet to factually refute or rebut any of the accusations made by the victim's mother. Given the nature of the crime, this "incompetence" (or willful obstruction, IMO) constitutes firing offenses for pretty much everyone. This.Is.Bad. (and where are all those Ferentz fans now?)

big gay heart

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:22 PM ^

I think Brian was merely pointing out that Ferentz's lack of transparency and/or his compliance with directives/courses of policy set forth by his superios certainly indicate a manifested lack of morality. That's not saying other administrative forces don't share blame. This is a college football blog - of course the focus is going to be on those elements most closely associated with, you know, college football.

Yinka Double Dare

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:35 PM ^

If it were the first time, it would still be bad. But for a university that dealt with Pierre Pierce this decade to STILL do things so spectacularly wrong is just reprehensible. You'd think if there was any school that would know the right thing to do after the shitstorm they had with Pierce, it would have been Iowa, and instead of turning it right over to the police and immediately suspending the players, they tried to cover it up? I think BHGP is right that people need to resign, but I think the Regents would be within their rights to start firing people too. These people are paid a lot of money to know better, and they made the wrong decision at nearly every turn. That lack of judgment is a pretty clear indication that they're not good at their jobs. And if you suck at your job, that usually means you get canned.

Ninja Football

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:38 PM ^

OPS, I agree with you, but I think the issues are not mutually exclusive. Much will be written and re-written before this is over regarding the rights of the young lady involved, and how her trust has been violated. I don't think Brian had an obligation to go on a rant about it here. What he does have is an obligation (kinda?) to report it to his readers and the fact that Ferentz was on the short list of coaching hires makes it relevant in that way. After all that has been implied in the media about "DickRod" and his lack of ethics, it's interesting to see such a pillar of the community get torn down by his own mistakes, and I think that's what belongs here. Having said that, as educators and coaches those people had an obligation not only to teach those under their charge, but to protect them as well. They have failed in that, sold out for PR and a game that in the grand scheme of things means nothing. That is completely and utterly inexcusable.

imafreak1

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:45 PM ^

I found the extended argument over ‘if the protocol was followed’ to be an unfortunate distraction from the actual issue. If THAT was the protocol then the protocol sucks ass and all the higher ups who followed it should have realized THE PROTOCOL was designed first to minimize outside knowledge/involvement and the best interests of the students, who aren’t super important athletes, were nowhere to be found. Regardless of protocol their response was an unacceptable abdication of responsibility. While there is no reason to make snap judgements, Ferentz (and whatever other Univ. officials) have some 'splainin to do and then they should probably cease being employess of Iowa--one way or another.

imafreak1

July 23rd, 2008 at 1:57 PM ^

Regarding RR and father figures. I’ve always been confused by the canonization of sports figures. I’m mildly put off by RBUAS’s veneration of Michgan players and coaches. I’m as a big an elitist as the next brie scarfing, Shakespeare quoting jerk (although I really hate oaky chardonnay’s… chardonnaies?... actually I can’t stand chardonnay and prefer a fruity sauvignon blanc) but I don’t care if my football coach or players are intellectuals. In fact, I don’t care at all how they spend their free time and am always confused why anyone reads the puff pieces about that stuff. I prefer the coach avoid saying things which betray an obvious lack of education (Carr’s Kipling quotes were weird to me). I hate poor grammar but can live with widely accepted or fashionable malapropisms (such as misusing the verb ‘to see’). I try to avoid hearing the players speak at all. There are 2 main stereotypes of football coaches, tough sumbitch northerners (Woody, the Tuna, ‘Jersey boy’ Weiss ha ha ah ahha) and velvet glove on the iron fist southerners (Bowden the Elder.) Pete Carroll is his own category of life loving free spirit! RR is fine example of the hick variety of the velvet glove. Aw shucks good manners, soothing good ole boy accent, chases Justin Boren ‘down south’ with his foul game day mouth. WTF, he’s a football coach. I want him to be honest in an earthy way (with out being pious and self righteous—never liked Tressel’s prosthelytizing) and I want him to win football games w/o embarrassing me (either morally or intellectually.)

El Jeffe

July 23rd, 2008 at 3:23 PM ^

I ranted about this in some other post, but I maintain that the rapidity with which the media (Rosenberg) excoriated RR for supposed family values problems and the kid gloves with which they're treating Ferentz for his role in covering up a rape are not accidental or unrelated.

As soon as Boren opened his eye-blacked, ping-ponging gob, the media swarmed. In contrast, Ferentz's name appears exactly once (and in a quote by UI AD Barta at that) in the story posted on espn.com (http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3500804).

RR is a hillbilly, and hillbillies cheat, lie, and drink that corn likker. Ferentz is not a hillbilly, and therefore is honest. Or so the narrative up north goes. I say the more l'affaire Ferentz bursts that myth, the better.

hat

July 23rd, 2008 at 2:42 PM ^

I'm not sure I really understand the point about RR "not inspiring third-party confidence like Bo or even Lloyd." As far as I've paid attention, everyone with any familiarity with RR's coaching thinks he's terrific at doing it.

I admit to being a little elitist about grammar (I liked that Lloyd would never misuse a word when he spoke to the media) but that's nitpicking. It's more important to me, from a media-relations standpoint, that the coach conducts himself with dignity (which you couldn't be sure of with Les Miles) and avoids being too antagonistic with the press (which was sometimes a problem with Lloyd). I think RR scores well on both of those.

Other Chris

July 23rd, 2008 at 3:07 PM ^

"As far as I've paid attention, everyone with any familiarity with RR's coaching thinks he's terrific at doing it."

And what about those who aren't familiar with his coaching, and really don't follow football, but are M supporters for reasons other than athletics?  Lloyd was much more their cup of tea.

cfaller96

July 23rd, 2008 at 5:11 PM ^

Coaches, be they at Michigan or Eastern Mississippi Tech A&M, should project an air of professionalism.  And although I disagree with the media's hunch that RichRod is a little loosey goosey and emotional (and thus unprofessional), I can understand where they're coming from.  Again, I don't agree, but I at least see what they're saying.

My problem is with some people assuming that Lloyd somehow "did it right" while RichRod is doing it wrong.  While I always liked Lloyd the man and the teacher, his orneriness with the media was unnecessary, unrealistic, and, yes, a tad unprofessional.  Somehow Rosenberg and his ilk have forgotten that.

The aura of "professionalism" cuts many ways, and RichRod is at least no worse than Lloyd was as a very public face of University of Michigan.

turbo cool

July 23rd, 2008 at 6:05 PM ^

i agree, and you can't compare richrod with lloyd. lloyd was hired from within program and basically just steered the ship in the direction that Bo initially had. there was no controversy because it was a boring story. i love lloyd but he didn't really have the 'sex appeal' that richrod does. richrod is coming into a2 completely changing the face of our program and doing it his own way. as a result everyone surrounding the michigan program is too stubborn to accept the change in order to take our program to the next level. enough of these 8-3, 7-4 seasons. richrod is here to win national championships.

The Barking Sp…

July 23rd, 2008 at 5:13 PM ^

If I'm Ferentz, I have a plethora of young, agile cheerleaders lined up for XTREEEEME SEX and a nice posh apartment outside of Cedar Rapids where they all fulfill my fantasies.

colin

July 23rd, 2008 at 5:41 PM ^

that it's malice versus incompetence? It certainly sounds like willful intent to cover up, but I'm a little unclear on the timeline and the exact nature of what happened. That said, either is unacceptable and I absolutely support BHGP's collective call for mass resignation. At some point, you need to recognize what your responsibility as officials for a major university are and if you can't, that disqualifies you from the position.