Posted by: marcmwm | July 26, 2008

Putting a face on a few of the good ones . . .

Listen, the Hawkeyes are 99 percent good, decent, hard-working, God-fearing college student-athletes who aren’t police blotter trainwrecks.

This is my way of saying I’ve heard enough of Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield.

I hope the accuser and her family find peace of mind and heal their bodies and souls. My prayers go out to them. I hope they find the justice and satisfaction they’re looking for. Anger is their right; healing needs to be the destination.

Everson and Satterfield will get due process. This is America. We’ll see what happens.

UI administration — I’m talking the UI/Sally Mason/Marc Mills administration — will get another serious look under the hood. The Board of Regents, et al, have pliers and blow torches and, this time, they’re PO’d. Bureaucracy can be so constipated. I hope someone with a soul breathes some morality, logic and humanity into the “process,” the quotemarks are meant to express disgust here. Here’s a thought, throw out all policies, bend over backwards to comfort the accuser, make sure the accused has access to legal representation and call local law enforcement. Sadly, this is going to happen again. The profile might shift, but it will happen. They had better have their policies (or whatever) together.

If UI sports administration gets pulled in, as it did in this case, suggest to the accuser’s family that they call the police. Better yet, make sure the re-re-thinking of UI sexual assault procedure takes athletics completely out of the picture. From conversations I had this week in Chicago, I think this will happen. I think it’s logical to conclude that sports administrators aren’t equipped for this. The recruiting argument, as in “why are these guys at Iowa,” was brought up to coach Kirk Ferentz during Big Ten media days. He referenced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who lost everything after his affairs with a prostitute were discovered on a federal wiretap. Did anyone see that coming? One of the players charged in this case had a YouTube video that was filled with objectifying lyrics. The vetting of recruits is being looked at, everything is being looked at in that regard. Ferentz asked that we judge this year’s team and its citizenship (blotter behavior) on its own, drawing the line in March. I’m good with that. The harder part, for Ferentz, is making sure even that number stays at two (I think that’s what it is). Talking to players in Chicago, I feel that the word they’re getting is that Iowa City is a dangerous place for the pseudo-celebrity that comes with being a football player. It’s a small town with a giant social scene. The police have to police one big fishing hole, the Ped Mall, that’s always stocked with trouble. There aren’t many variables here, Ped Mall + stupidity (of any sort) = police. Everyone knows the math. Now it’s time to get it right on the test, which is every weekend from here on out.

OK, I wrote about it. I’m will now try to bring the thrust of this space back to football. News and issues certainly won’t be ignored, but with actual football games just more than a month away, let’s try to introduce ourselves to the 2008 Hawkeyes. The good ones, the ones who are going to try to turn it around on the field. Hey, they have their share of problems there, too.

In that vein, here’s Saturday’s story:

CHICAGO — Iowa offensive lineman Seth Olsen got married this summer.

“I love being married, man,” Olsen said. “It’s great to come home and spend time with my best friend. We have a saying we learned in premarital counseling, we fill each other’s gaps. That’s definitely the case with us.”

Iowa defensive tackle Matt Kroul helped his parents take out 12 acres of pumpkins on their Mount Vernon farm. The Cedar River and June’s floods took their bite.

“We replanted some pumpkins but probably not enough,” Kroul said. “Who knows? Pumpkins are so touchy, and who knows what was in the water that was on the field.”

Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King pondered a question on his future. He’s got an eye toward MTV’s “Real World” and he might only be half kidding.

“I joke around with my friends all the time,” King said. “I want to send a tape in. I would love it. I would eat that up.”

These guys are Iowa football players. Check that, they’re still Iowa football players, just like Cedric Everson and Abe Satterfield were Iowa football players.

They’re sons and brothers and, in Olsen’s case, a husband. They’re not all police blotter trainwrecks, believe it or not. In fact, the majority of Iowa football players are Iowa football players.

During the Friday portion of the Big Ten Conference’s annual media days, Olsen, Kroul and King, all seniors, talked about what being an Iowa football player is. “Iowa football player” is a role that comes with super hero status, community leader responsibility and the rigors of being a college student. It’s also a role that’s played on a small stage in Iowa City, which glows in a white-hot spotlight.

More times than they care to count, they’ve found themselves explaining the actions of a few — 18 Hawkeyes have been arrested in the last 15 months, including the sexual assault charges that Everson and Satterfield face. They know it comes with the territory, but that doesn’t make it anymore palatable.

“I get that everyday,” Kroul said. “Basically, I give the same answer to you guys. There are so many guys with so many different backgrounds that it is tough to walk into a culture like Iowa City, where you’re in the spotlight and you’ve got to watch your back. If you’re doing something wrong, people are going to see, people are going to find out. You’ve got to do the right thing all the time.”

The 105 Hawkeyes have to do the right thing all the time, in a small college community with a big social outlet. Oh yeah, and it wouldn’t hurt if they won some games too, right?

“I hope the fans understand that we are trying to turn it around,” King said. “There are people doing the right things and there are more people doing the right things than the wrong things. I hope they realize that.

“In my mind, the biggest thing is the fans. Being super heroes, that’s all in their eyes. Fans make Iowa football, I hope they recognize that and I hope they still come out on Saturdays.”

One of the right things was a May trip to western Louisiana for two days of clean up around a school that was ravaged by Hurricane Rita in 2005. Coach Kirk Ferentz took the trip with 16 players. Sophomore defensive back Lance Tillison, whose family lost its Louisiana home in Hurricane Katrina, was part of the crew.

“It was a great educational experience and a great opportunity to do some constructive work,” Ferentz said. “Little did we know that we were going to have plenty of opportunity the next month.”

The floods hit Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Iowa players helped fill sandbags in Coralville and through the duration in and around Iowa City. In mid-June, a couple busloads of players went to assist with the Parkersburg cleanup, in the wake of the EF5 tornado that flattened much of the town, including Aplington-Parkersburg High School.

Charity can quickly become public relations if you advertise. Ferentz is very conscious of this. Iowa played down the service trip angles with local media when they took place and again Friday. Ferentz said he’d like to make service trips a yearly mission for his team.

“We’re building it into our structure, getting a handle on it and putting organization to it,” Ferentz said. “You’ve got to be realistic with time demands, but it’ll certainly be a bigger element of what we do.”

Another right thing, seniors and upperclassmen have been assigned two or three incoming freshmen to keep in contact with and make sure they’re on the program. The freshmen have been encouraged to contact their upperclassman “anytime about anything.”

“This comes with responsibility,” King said. “We might be put on a higher pedestal than any other college in the nation, if you think about it. There are no pro teams here. But that’s making an excuse and I’m not going to do that.

“I’ve been saying it all day, but you’ve got to think twice before you act. It sucks to be that way, but we chose this life and you’ve got to do it. You have to do it.”

Then, King looked around the room, took in the swirl that was Big Ten media day. Coaches and athletes at tables conducting interviews with scores of print and radio interviewers.

“It’s discouraging,” he said. “This is the Big Ten kickoff luncheon. This is my first time here and we’re talking more off-field issues than we are football. But I find myself answering those questions all the time. And it’s not just you guys (media), it’s everybody.”

With a Tiger Hawk on your helmet comes great responsibility. The majority of Hawkeyes get that.

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Responses

  1. Yeah, great story yesterday Marc!

  2. Speaking of football, here is my early Big Ten prediction:
    1) Ohio St.- could play for the national title again.
    2a) Wisconsin-
    2b) Illinois- both of the teams could be top 10-15.
    4) Michigan- top 25 team?
    5) Purdue
    6) Michigan St.
    7) Indiana
    8) Penn St.- definite drop off
    9) Iowa- all the teams above are better, no matter how “easy” the schedule is.
    10) NW
    11) Minnesota

  3. I think this could easily happen, but I also think Iowa could get into a bowl game, which is the realistic goal for this team. Bowl game, at 6-6 even, would be progress. I can’t believe I wrote that last sentence, but that’s where the thing is today.

    If Iowa comes out of Wisconsin, Purdue, Michigan State and Indiana (counting Ill. and PSU as losses and NW and Minn as wins) with at least 2-2, that’s a damn good year in my mind.

    Is it realistic?

  4. Boy, I agree. Coming out of those 4 games at 2-2 would be super.

  5. Every game, except Maine and FIU, is going to be a street fight.

    I think this could be 2001 (7-5 Alamo victory) or 2000 (was it 3-9? I think it was).

    Consarnit, I was just going to walk out the door for golf and then I looked at the radar.

    I think I’m still going to give it a shot.

  6. yeah, wetness coming our way.


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