The latest Iowa athletic department press conference, held Wednesday afternoon to address the hospitalization of 13 Hawkeye football players, was quite the eye-opener, with all relevant personnel on hand to answer any -- I'm sorry; I'm being told that this is still Iowa football, and it was therefore nothing like that. No Kirk Ferentz. No athletic director. No strength coaches. Just the hapless-appearing director of football operations, who seemed put-upon to even acknowledge that Something Happened.
SB Nation's Black Heart Gold Pants states flatly, "It's pretty obvious by now that Kirk Ferentz doesn't care about PR," and points out what's really been bothering us about this whole episode: That the university seemed to taken aback at having to respond in the first place:
The university expected nobody to reveal that the hospitalization was the proximate result of severe training right off a break that was allegedly intensified by peer pressure without S&C coach intervention. That secret, obviously, didn't stay secret.
Still, they concede, the already-icy backlash could have been so much worse:
Imagine if Barta and Ferentz were there and they stonewalled on the "I wasn't there" front as badly as Federici and Holmes did.
Which is not to say this isn't bad. Because it is. Very bad. And all too typical.
[People] want to see public demonstrations of positive values at every opportunity, and Kirk Ferentz has generally succeeded there. But he doesn't go out of his way to do so, which again speaks to his mostly Iowan/Midwestern value set, but which also opens him up for serious criticism when things start going bad. And when the UI can't even communicate the fact that Ferentz has contacted the parents of the afflicted players or that they want to get out of the hospital and back to workouts until a parent says so at a press conference, the athletic department only magnifies the perception problems facing Ferentz.