Kirk Ferentz and three current Iowa football players spoke to the media yesterday about the necessary changes the Iowa football program needs to make.
Here’s the bad news, Kirk Ferentz admitted that the Iowa football program had a “coaching style by some was at times demeaning and created unnecessary anxiety and frustration.” Ivory Kelly-Martin said, “there was a feeling you had to walk on eggshells, you couldn’t really be yourself..”
But here’s the good news, things in the Iowa program are changing for the better. After two days of meetings that were described as “heated and emotional” and “raw, powerful and productive” by Kirk; all three players detailed a change of culture made by the Iowa football program and supported their head coach.
Keith Duncan said “I wouldn’t want any other coaches to be here right now”, IKM said “there is a moral change within the program” and Iowa’s new most popular activist, Kaveon Merryweather, said, “from Monday until this last workout (Friday), we’ve made steps.”
Granted, solving racial disparity can’t be done in a week. It can’t even be done in a month, a season, a year, or even five years. By the time Kirk Ferentz ends his long, lustrous career at the University of Iowa it will still be a problem, but the most important thing is the University of Iowa and Kirk Ferentz are making steps in the right direction. And current players see that.
Matt Hankins references “anxiety being lifted off of the shoulders” with Doyle being gone in his recently published tweet:
Silence speaks volume. ✊🏾 pic.twitter.com/jhqYI5fkPS
— Hachiiiiiiii (@Matt_Hankins1) June 13, 2020
Things are positively changing in the Iowa football program and the team is uniting together. May current players have referenced how conversations have become more collaborative, the “committee” of former players has been chosen (although Kirk elected not to announce those names yet).
Above all else, the media, general public, and fans narrative of Kirk Ferentz being complicit or albeit, the main perpetrator, seemed to not be the believed narrative of both current and former players.
Kirk got emotional when discussing the infamous “twitter rule”, referencing himself as a father figure, that just wanted to protect his players from the toxicity of social media. But giving his players a way to express themselves is more important, and Kirk understands that.
Side note: Kirk also called the rule stupid because “the tweeter one is the same thing as Instagram” if you expected him to become a social media savant, then I don’t know what to tell you. He followed up calling the popular social media the wrong name with the correct name saying “I don’t know much about Twitter…I know it’s very popular.”
The Iowa Football culture is changing, but don’t expect Kirk Ferentz to be joining Twitter (or any other social media for that matter).
When Iowa football returns, the culture will be changed. Black players will almost certainly want to take a knee during the anthem and those players expect support from the Iowa football fans, which they will receive from a majority.
Fixing the culture of Iowa football is going to be the toughest test of Kirk Ferentz’s career, but steps have been made in the right direction. And through continued conversations and making necessary changes, Iowa football will continue to come together. Players, coaches, and fans will all need to continue to have difficult conversations, but we can do it, together.