Posted by: marcmwm | July 24, 2008

Ferentz speaks, Part I

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz spoke publically for the first time since the Everson-Satterfield Hillcrest sexual assault arrests took the latest turn, the revealation of the letters from the woman’s mother to UI administration.

Ferentz spoke for nearly 40 minutes to Iowa media Thursday afternoon at the Big Ten media days here in Chicago.

He defended his character, explained his actions in the dismissal of Everson and Satterfield and asked that the 2008 team be judged on its performance, on and off the field.

I went through his statement and the Q&A. I’ll post it in two parts and insert some play-by-play where needed. (I also cut out some of the verbal fillers and chit-chat).

“My hopes are that after today we can move forward and look forward to the 2008 season. We’ll maybe open a small window on our media day back in Iowa. Outside of that, I would prefer to focus on what’s ahead of us and would ask all of you to respect our players in that light. I just ask you to use good discretion with the questions that you ask them in the next 48 hours and then certainly once we get back to Iowa.”

He then talked about on-field expectations, the disappointments of last season — basically the stuff that wasn’t the assault. 

“I have three things on my mind, and I will start with the lowest priority for those of you in this room, the upcoming season.

“I think it’s a matter of how you choose to look at it. Last year was disappointing that we didn’t go to a bowl game. We had a disappointing start to the year, and a disappointing ending to the year when we did have an opportunity to clinch a bowl game and we were unable to do that. I’d ask some fairness in judgment in what we have done. From my perspective, the low point of our football production centered on the midpoint of the 2006 season. If you’d care to lump in the first six games last year, you are welcome to do that. We finished 1-5 at the end of 2006, 2-4 to start last year, with a loss to a fairly talented Texas team in there. If you want to look at that 13 game period, I think its fair to say that our production certainly less that what we’d hoped.

 “I look at it the other way, if you will. I lump 2005 in with three pretty good years, a four year string of January bowls, which is not easy to accomplish, not a lot of schools have been able to do that. If you look at the 2005 season, glass is half empty half full. In 2004 we were able to win the close games, and you recall we had eight in a row, and we dropped a few close ones in 2005. That is the difference between being a championship football team and a team that doesn’t measure up to that. When I look at it, we had four pretty successful years, and there is no denying we had a rough stretch, the most disappointing stretch, would be the last six of the 2006 season.”

Then, he moved on to “general conduct issues,” which would be the main topic — given Iowa’s numerous run-ins the last 15 or so months — but this was still leading up to the Hillcrest incident.

“We have opened the door for the immense attention that we have received. Some fair, some unfair maybe, but the bottom line is that we opened the door for it and that comes with the territory. You can expect negative reporting, because there was negative behavior. The only thing I would say is that I don’t think at any time that any coach on our staff, or player, has offered an excuse. Unfortunately, just kind of like going through bad seasons, chances are if I am able to hang in there long enough, there will be more. We went through a very disappointing year in 2001 on the conduct front and that was not much fun, either. Chances are we will go through them again as long as I remain in coaching, that is a possibility. If you want to rank the years, last year was the most disappointing off the field for obvious reasons. That being said, I would request that we give fair coverage on that also.

“I listened to an interview recently, the last several days, where a fairly prominent radio personality started talking about our conduct and ranked it 15 or 20 offenses — I think he used arrests, which I’ll come back to — and by the end of the interview, he was throwing the term out 20. We have opened ourselves up to that, but that isn’t fair or responsible. He used the term arrest, and I would not call PAULA’s arrest, and that is the law and serious. But I would ask that responsible coverage take place and go from there.

“The bottom line of that is we have taken the approach as a team back in March, the beginning or prior to spring ball, with this roster we have now and it took shape, I think March first is when that happened . . .  we have talked to our team to draw a line of demarcation at that point. I would hope people would be fair enough to judge us from what happens from then on. That being said, I am not minimizing what happened a year ago, we didn’t going into the 2002 season. As you might imagine, we have taken steps and will continue to do so to address that, which is the most prominent thing on our minds right now, moreso than our football production. I really believe the two go together. Only time will tell. I’m asking you to draw the same line that we drew. You may choose to; you may not. The public may choose to; they may not. We’ll only know at the end of the journey where we are. That is one challenge that is ahead for the team, like the 2008 schedule.”

Then, the sexual assault investigation and the mother’s initial letter that prompted last week’s Board of Regents meeting in Iowa City and the re-opening of the Regent’s investigation of the UI’s handling of the matter. 

“The last point, and the most prominent on everyone’s mind in our state, is the sexual assault case that is being dealt with. I think there are two main parts, a criminal investigation that is ongoing, and as you might imagine there is not much I can say about that. Most recently the attention is on the procedural part. I have to be guarded about what I say, but I think a couple things are constant. First and foremost, and I can only speak from my vantage point, the parts I’ve been involved with and have knowledge of, every step of the way, from point one when I’ve been involved, everyone associated with this has had nothing but the utmost of concern of the young woman and her family, first and foremost. I think that’s been very, very consistent.

“Secondly, I think the proper steps have been followed every step of the way, again from what I know. That’s all I can speak to. Following the student-athlete code of conduct certainly the recently revised procedural conduct that the University has on a broader scale.

“From a coach’s perspective, there’s not much more that I think any of us could do or could’ve done. This issue is certainly a little different than the other ones that we’ve dealt with, but in all cases, I think we try to move firmly, quickly, decisively and fairly. I think we’ve done that. The two parties involved were, as you know, no longer part of the team shortly thereafter. There’s not much more a coach can do from my vantage point. We’re not allowed to pass out incarceration sentences or anything of that regard. That’s not my job. If that’s appropriate, it’ll be done by someone else. I think we’ve taken the proper steps, I’ll leave it at that.”

<<<<<< This is becoming a giant post, so I’ll continue it to part II. >>>>>


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