Iowa conduct problems hit home for Ferentz
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
As player arrests piled up last summer and the heat continued to rise, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz tried to douse the flames with a history lesson.
Ferentz pointed out that 2001 was a very poor year in terms of player conduct, but Iowa improved both on and off the field from 2002-04, averaging 10.3 wins and far fewer arrests.
"We had our worst conduct year in 2001; probably had our best conduct year in 2002," Ferentz told me last April.
He hoped that the same could hold true after a swell of problems in 2007 and 2008. Ferentz hired former player Chigozie Ejiasi as director of player development in September, and the off-field incidents seemed to sharply decline. Oh, and Iowa had a 9-4 season and won a Jan. 1 bowl game.
Well, the problems are back, and they're hitting Ferentz close to home.
Hawkeyes center James Ferentz, the head coach's son, was arrested on campus early Monday along with two teammates and charged with public intoxication. Ferentz and tight end Zach Derby pleaded not guilty to the charge and face May 8 trials, while fullback Tyler Christensen pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal mischief and public intoxication and paid fines totaling $489.
It marked the second alcohol-related arrest for Ferentz, who was cited in October for alcohol possession by a minor and suspended from team activities for the rest of the regular season.
"It was very disappointing to learn of the behavior of our three players last night," Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. "Short term, all three will be suspended for the remainder of spring practice and they will be expected to fulfill significant community service obligations the next several weekends. Additional action will be determined at a later point and return to the team will be based on additional criteria."
According to UI police complaints, Christensen, a redshirt freshman fullback from Belmond, approached an off-duty officer wanting to fight. When on-duty officers arrived, Christensen had slurred speech, red bloodshot eyes and admitted drinking at Iowa City's Fieldhouse bar but refused to take a blood-alcohol test. Christensen then admitted to UI police he had broken the arms off of a parking gate at the mall's entrance. UI police then called Iowa City Police, who arrested Christensen for fifth-degree criminal mischief.
Ferentz, 19, was heard yelling and observed stumbling upon contact with a police officer, according to the complaint. His blood-alcohol level was .16, more than twice the legal limit for a impaired driver.
The latest arrests come weeks after starting defensive end Adrian Clayborn was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault stemming from a Jan. 20 incident involving a taxi driver in Iowa City. Clayborn pleaded not guilty to the charge and is practicing with the team this spring.
Unfortunately for Kirk Ferentz, there's a history of problems here, and it's not helping his cause.
It's hard to say you have control of the team when a player who shares your last name keeps getting in trouble with the law. James Ferentz is an adult who should know how to make good choices, but he clearly has some problems and continues to hurt himself and his dad.
You have to feel for Kirk Ferentz, who now must dismiss his son from the team. He really has no other choice.
Iowa fans love to win, but they also won't stand for another round of off-field problems.