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 talented Texas team in there. If you want to look at that 13 game period, I think its fair to say that our production is now what we would hope.
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. That is item number one.
Number two is general conduct issues, I guess. 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, and by the end of the interview, he was throwing the term out of 20. We have opened ourselves up to that, but that is not 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. That and football production go together. Only time will tell. I am asking you to draw the line we drew; you may choose to, the public may choose to, they may not. We will only know at the end of the journey where we are at. That is one challenge that is ahead for the team, like the 2008 schedule.
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 with what I saw, but I think a couple things are constant from my vantage point…every step of the way, from the point I got involved, everyone associated with this has had nothing but the utmost concern for the woman and her family. Secondly, I think the proper steps have been followed every step of the way from what I know, and that is all I can speak to. Following the student athlete code of conduct, the recently revised procedural conduct that the University has on a broader scale.
From a coach's perspective, there is not much more than any of us could have done. This issue is different than the other ones we have dealt with, but in all cases I think we tried to move firmly, quickly, decisively and fairly and I think we have done that. The two parties that were involved were not a part of the team shortly thereafter. There is not much more a coach can do. We are not allowed to pass out incarceration sentences or anything like that. That is not my job. If that is appropriate, someone else will do that. I think we took the proper steps and I will leave it at that.
This past weekend, a new page was turned. I really can't comment a great deal about some of the things I read over the course of the weekend, but I will say that there is an element that my name was involved with. I was in a meeting Wednesday the 17th. It was my request not to be at that meeting, and I know Gary felt the same way and it was the request of the family that we be there. That does fall with the procedural aspects and compliance of that. I think that meeting was covered in the first investigation by the board of regents, it will be covered again and all of us are confident that the outcome will be positive one more time. I will go back to a point I made earlier, I think the best interests of the young lady and her family were first and foremost, and I was at the meeting and that is consistent. I will stop there. I do take a little exception to reading the first or second paragraph of a prominent article this past weekend, and there was a suggestion of a cover up and I know that is the media's job and it's the world we live in right now. But I really take exception to that.
I think of a logical person, if they looked at this, for anyone involved to be in a cover up here, you would have to be morally bankrupt, and secondly you would have to be fairly ignorant. I guess you could be morally bankrupt and smart, but that is what it comes down to. Make your judgment on me, you can question my ability to coach, the decisions I choose to make and I am in a decision making position, no doubt about that. You can question a lot of things, but to question character, I do take exception to that. I have had experience down that road before>
I recall very vividly in 2003 an accusation being made by a person. I remember going through months of suggestion about what took place. Some people took it and ran with it, and it was a very damaging period for our program, a very hurtful time for all of us. I think specifically about one of the players involved in that one, and the suggestion was made about his integrity. I think time was proven that was hardly the case. He was one of the most exceptional young men to have ever come through our program. We sat quietly, when the resolution came around, it was hardly news months later. I expect we will go through something like that again. I see a parallel between that process if you will, what took place, and what is going on right now.
I will close in saying one thing I have learned, and I have been at Iowa nine years and in coaching longer than that. If you want to be in coaching, there is disappointment, that is part of the territory. I think if you do your homework and look around the country, talk about college, high school, or pro, this is not an unusual phenomenon unfortunately. If you are going to be in coaching, you have to endure those things. Not every season will be a walk in the park. I would ask that people look at the big picture and be fair minded and most importantly that they give this 2008 team their own identity and judge them on the merits of what they do or don't do.
I am not a great one for prognostication, time will tell. That is the charge out there for our football team now. At some point we will get to that 2008 season, but I hope people judge this team on what they are and move on at some appropriate time.
Question: Had you already removed the players from the team by the next game? Had you heard all that you needed to hear?
Ferentz: I have to be careful here. I will share this; I met with the players involved, more than two players. My decisions were made in compliance with our student athlete code of conduct and in compliance with the answers I was given in that meeting. I am not a detective, but there were some things that just didn't measure up, it's as simple as that.
Question: Did you put your neck on line by taking them off the team based on allegations?
Ferentz: I was in compliance with our student athlete code of conduct. On that front, I hope people can appreciate…I was not trying anyone involved in this. That is not my job. As of the 17th, that was my last involvement, my meeting on that Wednesday, with the formal procedure. I only acted on the things that a football coach can act on. Based on the information I had from several people, I acted on what I had. I think I acted fairly. But that is a great point, you have to be very cautious any time you are dealing with discipline. This is the stickiest of all issues you can deal with, the most distasteful and unsavory. This is the first one in my career I have ever been around, and hopefully the last one, but there are no assurances. What happened on our campus, it happens on every campus in America. I have two college aged daughters. That is common sense. All I can do is act on what I had and what I felt was appropriate and fair and I will continue to operate in that manner.
Question: I know that players have to live somewhere, but they were back in the dorm.
Ferentz: It ties right into the last question. There is only so much power a football coach has and only so much control. I don't have any right to pull anyone out of the dorm, I don't have that authority. It's not just cut and dried or black and white, this has a lot of gray area. I took the action I was allowed to take that was appropriate. As you might imagine I talked to the parties involved and instructed them to be on the best of their conduct. And if there was any turbulence on anyone's part, I wanted it to be reported to me. At that point they would have to work through Gary and the University officials.
Question: Doesn't the policy say that the coach of an offending player or players in this case, and the athletic director are not permitted to speak with the victim at any point? Yet the parents of said victim requested to speak with both of you?
Ferentz: I don't pretend to be an expert in our policy, along those lines. If I have a question, I ask someone that does know. Any action I took, I conferred with Gary for obvious reasons and I think he has been consistent in say that was within the policy of the University. I think it's part of the discussion, but my guess is the policy will be reexamined one more time, that will be a result of this whole thing. All we can do is act on the policy that is there. I was not enthused about going to the meeting, I felt uncomfortable about that and I think I speak for Gary. But we were requested to be there. When I walked out, I thought it was very positive for being a very tough circumstance. Positive on all fronts. What I read (this weekend) contrasted that.
Question: Is it true that the victim's family not only wanted the players tossed off the team, but kicked out of school immediately?
Ferentz: I can't comment on that. I took the action I felt was appropriate. I made my decisions based on what I felt was appropriate. I don't make decisions like that without running them by Gary.
Question: Once you gathered the information from talking to them (Everson/Satterfield), were they essentially off the team at that point?
Ferentz: I can't think of an instance where I kicked anyone off immediately. They were suspended immediately. As the week went on, and my conversations with parties involved were ongoing, I finished on Thursday (four days after the alleged incident), 6 or 6:30 on Thursday it was my last information gathering conversation. I made the decision at that point where we were going. It's not as simple as saying you are off the team. To remove a player from school, I don't have that power to remove a player from scholarship immediately.
Question: Did aspects from the Duke case enter into your thoughts at all during that time?
Ferentz: I am not here to lecture anyone, but I would ask everyone to be fair minded. If in fact there is a trial, I know there is one scheduled. If that takes place, that is the place for that to be decided. On our end, from my experience, everybody at our end did all they could to follow the proper procedures and that is all that we can do. We have already been judged one time favorably by the board of regents. I am confident the next review will prove to be the same result. I expect there will be tweaks to the policy. All of us involved are condiment we took the proper steps.
Question: There will be a program on the Big Ten Network this year, cameras following Illinois coaches and players around. How would you feel about that?
Ferentz: I haven't heard anything about that. The bottom line is this, as coaches we cannot follow our players around 24 hours a day. We have more players that support personnel. Your best approach is education, and we will try to ramp that up. I have asked that this team be judged on its conduct, this year's conduct. That being said none of us can turn our back on what happened this past year. I have to take a different approach. It m ay not be fair, but anyone that violates our team rules this coming year, the consequences will be more severe. Just like curfews, things I'd rather not do for young adults, college is about growing up, but at the same time you have to earn some rights. We have some things we will address, but I think our emphasis above everything else is to help people do a better job in transitioning. They are very visible. We need to do a better job in making them more aware of where they live, the kind of decisions they choose to make because ultimately, that is at the core of good or bad behavior. If you go back over nine years and anything our players have done improperly, I would suggest that most of them knew in the third grade or seventh grade that right is right and wrong is wrong. I don't think its more complex for that.
Question: When you told Tillison to move back into his room, at that time did you have any idea that that it would become a crime scene?
Ferentz: No, my mind doesn't work that way. It was news to me that the room was vacant. I learned that (it was vacant) that week. My first thought there was to get people back there in the proper spots.
Question: Do your players have a curfew?
Ferentz: We do right now.
Question: What is it?
Ferentz: I am not going to tell you that.
Question: Did you change it last year?
Ferentz: That started back in the fall. We kept it through the spring and curfews don't guarantee anything. Bad things happen. Unless you are just blind to everything going on, in Iowa City, bad things happen after midnight. You can pinpoint a few nights ago.
Question: Is Riley Reiff a part of this new process?
Ferentz: I think that is fair to say. I am not going into details, but I think it's fair to say that his incident will be treated a lot differently than we did a year ago. It will hurt a little bit more. All that being said, I hate that term throw guys under the bus, but I would like to think we are educators and we will be fair to him, yet at the same time, he has been in Iowa City long enough to know, I would hope, that what he did was not only bad in and of itself, but directly worked against the cause that our team is committed to taking the path on.
Question: So he is not kicked off the team?
Ferentz: No, I don't plan on that, but it will be a painful thing.
Question: So were Everson and Satterfield kicked off the team on the Thursday following the incident (alleged to have been four days earlier, on a Sunday)?
Ferentz: They didn't participate in anything we did all week, as of Sunday.
Question: You heard about it Sunday?
Ferentz: No, but Sunday would have been their last participation with us. It's a matter of record I was somewhere early Monday morning (meeting with victim and father). Players don't work on Monday's, so our first scheduled activity was Tuesday, and I felt it was best to hold them out at that point, so their last participation was that Sunday.
Question: Had you made up mind to take them out? They were not going top play for you again?
Ferentz: The picture was fairly clear in my mind. Again, I can only focus on the responses I was given. There wasn't enough consistency.
Question: When the players moved back into the dorm room, was that a decision out of your hand?
Ferentz: The player never had permission to move out of the dorm, that is the issue there. When I learned that the room was open, that prompted me to move him back in, simple as that.
Question: Is Dace done forever?
Ferentz: Unfortunately, he was making progress and he had a mishap right prior to the fourth of July break. Basically, there is no way he will play this year. Right now the focus is to get him to where he can have a function life. He is out. Rick Stanzi had an injury. The wonders of modern technology. Rick landed on his shoulder in a workout a week ago Friday. He has an AC sprain. We expect him to be ready if not the first week, most likely the second. Not a major setback….in camp, yes.
Question: What of Marcus Wilson?
Ferentz: He is working to get back.
Ferentz: Yes. Academics right now. I can't predict the outcome on that one as to when.
Question: Shonn Greene?
Ferentz: We are in good shape there. That is good news.
Question: Austin Signor?
Ferentz: Austin is going to transfer, yes.
Question: David Blackwell (not listed on website roster)?
Ferentz: To my knowledge, he will be OK. Clearinghouse issues, I can recall some of those. As far as I know, he will be with us in camp. He is still rehabbing an ACL injury. I don't expect him to be 100%. That will be weeks, not days.
Question: What about the surgery guys, like Moeaki and Bulaga?
Ferentz: Everyone is fine. Throw in Bernstine, too. All three of those guys have had great summers. The team is training extremely well, the attitude has been great. I had a great meeting with our seniors and leaders last Wednesdays. You face bumps in the road…one thing that keeps coaches going is being around young people. The people you work with, the staff, the support folks. It's what really gives you optimism that you will work through these challenges and we will. Our team is in a great frame of mind.
Question: Have you been able to talk to the team about the sexual assault?
Ferentz: It's hard for me to have contact with our entire team. I met with the seniors and the leadership group a week ago Wednesday. I have before that. I will address it when we get together in camp. So I have not done that yet. There is not a lot to be said right now. There are two parts of this equation. As far as I am concerned, from our involvement, I don't know what else there is to say about it. Other than the fact that it will be a great teaching instance unfortunately. I am not saying right, wrong, guilty not guilty. But this whole thing…one thing I have known for a long time, but there are no winners. How can there be any winners? It's a lose-lose thing for everyone involved. Maybe the only winners are the people that write stories.
Question: How are things going with your ‘Life Skills' coach?
Ferentz: We are working through it. I am confident we will have a player involvement, personnel person in place. I am excited about it for sure. But I would be remiss if I didn't say that this person is strictly a supplement person. We are not going to hire Dr Phil, he is not available and we don't need him. We need someone to help us help the players make the transition. It will not be a glamorous job, it will be an entry level position in some ways. What we are looking for is someone, just one more person to have more one on one interaction with our players about their transition, help to educate them with the process. We are not looking for a PHD. We are looking for someone that understands student athlete life. If they are knowledgeable of a college town like Iowa City, that would be a benefit. It will be a resource of the coaching staff and players, like academic counselors are. There will be some grunt work involved that is the nature of coaching.
Question: Do you ask your team leaders to ‘police' things downtown?
Ferentz: That is the next step. Anytime you go through turbulence that we have, and we did in 2001, for change to happen people have to think smarter and we need more proactive behavior from our football team. I am not offering up excuses. We were a young, immature and inexperienced team on the field last year, and I think it showed. That probably would be part of the reason we struggled off the field, in my opinion. We will have to have more accountability. The next step to be a winning team on and off the field, we will have more veteran, confident players stepping in. But older guys cant be with younger guys every second of the day. It gets back to each individual giving great thought to what it is they are doing. Just having a good awareness of what is right and wrong, which most of us have by 7th or 8th grade we have that.
Question: I think you did a PSA on women and violence. You kicked Dana Brown off the team after he was involved in a domestic assault. You have a pretty good track with this stuff
Ferentz: I have two daughters that attend the University of Iowa. But anywhere in this country, everyone has the right to live their life, and people should be respectful. Football is one of the rare places in our society where we have a large but very diverse group. Educationally, race, religion, economic stratus, football is a huge challenge, but it's a great thing. When it's done right, players on the team can learn to be accepting of others. I would like to think my reputation is at least fair with everyone. This has been tough for everyone involved. I go back to the point I made earlier; it happens. Things happen in our society that is inexplicable. I wish I had a rationale for why we didn't play well in our last game last year, but I can't. Sometimes that happens in life, too.