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Harty: Question about Tressel put Ferentz into tough spot

[ 16 ] June 6, 2011 |

After 12 years on the job, there are certain things we know about Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz:

He is more likely to punt on 4th-and-2 at mid-field than risk going for it.

He wants his fullback to block and block and block some more.

He refuses to throw anybody under the bus publicly.

That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised that Ferentz took the high road when asked recently to comment about Jim Tressel’s demise as the Ohio State football coach.

Ferentz called Tressel a good man and described his resignation as an unfortunate situation.

It was vintage Ferentz. He refused to kick a colleague that was already down and out of a job.

The reaction has been mixed, though, with some criticizing Ferentz for defending a coach that resigned in disgrace and for not taking an opportunity to say that coaches need to stick to the rules.

It’s no longer a question of whether Tressel broke the rules at Ohio State, but rather to what degree.

The question is whether you can break rules and then lie about it and try to cover it up and still be a good man.

Ferentz apparently believes you can, which doesn’t make him right or wrong. It’s just an opinion from somebody that knows Tressel better than most of us probably do.

But if he had ripped Tressel, some people would’ve been upset at Ferentz for not minding his own business and for using Tressel’s misfortune to promote his own cause.

Ferentz also might have been criticized for throwing stones from his glass house because of all the off-the-field problems that have occurred with the Iowa program recently.

Tressel’s supporters will argue that he did more good than bad as the Ohio State coach and that most of the bad he did was to protect his players.

His critics will say that Tressel is a hypocrite who felt that he was above the rules and that his reckless behavior finally caught up with him.

Ferentz, on the other hand, tried to speak without really taking sides and without blasting a colleague. Being asked to comment on Tressel put Ferentz in a no-win situation because no matter what Ferentz said, somebody likely would have taken offense.

And it’s not as if coaches are lining up to blast Tressel publicly. Has even one head coach said anything negative on the record about him? Why should Ferentz take it upon himself to break the silence?

Division I football coaches are a tight-knit group and many of them feel that outsiders don’t understand the stress and the demands that come with the job.

There is a part of Ferentz that probably feels sorry for Tressel because it’s tough watching somebody’s career unravel, even if the damage was self-inflicted.

Ferentz probably would’ve been better off not calling a Tressel a good man under the circumstances, but it’s not always easy saying the right thing publicly.

Sometimes, the smart thing is to say nothing. But even that can be misconstrued.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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