It’s late July with just a month to go before the Iowa Hawkeyes open up the football season with a home game against Maine. Yet the only talk here in the state of Iowa revolves around the rape of a young woman by three U of I football players.
Numerous callers into sports talk radio have called for a clean sweep with AD Barta and head coach Kirk Ferentz’s removal from the program, and even for the season to be scrapped. All signs point that the season will go on, and that Barta and Ferentz will be at the head calling the shots.
The question now remains: How will the season play out, and can the play on the field overcome the shadow of the offseason?
The football team knows that putting the offseason and last season’s bad taste behind them can only come with results on the gridiron. In my opinion it will take more than that.
Seniors have to step up and clean up by providing the leadership that has been missing from the Hawkeyes since the teams of Dallas Clark, Bob Sanders, and Robert Gallery.
At the same time leadership does not mean babysit. At some level freshmen have to be treated like adults and be told that they now represent something far bigger than themselves, a team and University, and their conduct should reflect that.
We can’t change the atmosphere that is Iowa City, and to be honest the atmosphere is not the problem. Iowa City is no different than any other college city with a major NCAA program.
What has happened in Iowa City and at the U of I has no quick fix, no quick answer.
While expectations for the season are certainly higher than last season’s 6-6 record, I see no reason to expect anything different. QB Jake Christensen failed to end the season on a high note, and the running game that Iowa tends to lean on so heavily is now anchored by a newcomer in O’Merea.
The wide receivers Brodell and TE Moeaki have yet to show that they can be around all season and not be injured. To boot, the defense has many new starters as well. I foresee another average to sub-par season.
For years head coach Ferentz has been offered NFL head coaching positions and has remained at Iowa. This time it could change; I fully expect coach Ferentz to be on the first plane to an NFL city come January or February.
The U of I’s new President Meyers will likely be forced by the Board of Regents to take actions, and if she herself is not forced to resign Barta or both could be shown the door.
The worst part of all this besides that the victim and what she has had to go through is what the fans are seeing. We deserve better. Just several seasons ago Iowa was thought to be a national title contender. Now the direction in which this program is headed is unclear and in a deep fog.
It’s not unthinkable to see this program fall from the ranks and see a new head coach every three to five years, and become a place where the words "job security" are something to laugh at.
It is always said that, "Things always get worse before they get better." "The night is darkest just before the dawn." More times than not these are true, and it is almost a certain that more questions and dirt will be raised before everything calms down.
More professional sports beat writers love to write stories about teams who defy the odds and beat adversity when the team's back is against the wall, but truth be told no one at the University of Iowa, or its football team, wants to be in that position.
Because if they don’t rise up they will be subject to a long hard ride through the wall.