Ferentz to weigh additional punishment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz won't make any decisions on the status of three recently arrested players, including his son, until after the team concludes spring practice later this month.
James Ferentz, Tyler Christensen and Zach Derby were arrested for public intoxication early Monday on campus. Christensen pleaded guilty; both Ferentz and Derby pleaded not guilty and will face bench trials May 8.
Hawkeyes center James Ferentz, fullback Tyler Christensen and tight end Zach Derby were arrested for public intoxication early Monday on campus. Christensen pleaded guilty to fifth-degree criminal mischief and public intoxication and paid fines totaling $489. Both Ferentz and Derby pleaded not guilty and will face bench trials May 8.
Before Monday was out, Ferentz announced the players would be suspended for the remainder of spring practice and possibly face additional penalties. The Hawkeyes conclude spring drills April 18.
"Those players aren't with our team right now," Ferentz said Friday during an interview with ESPN.com. "We're going to get through spring ball, and then we'll handle it after that."
James Ferentz's arrest was his second alcohol-related incident. The 19-year-old was cited in October for possession of alcohol under the legal age, pleaded guilty and paid a fine.
Kirk Ferentz suspended his son from team activities for the remainder of the 2008 regular season. James Ferentz returned for the Outback Bowl and entered spring practice as the team's No. 2 center.
"Any parent that has a problem is disappointed, but any parent realizes kids are going to disappoint you at times," Kirk Ferentz said Friday. "That's part of being a parent, certainly part of being a coach. Is it tough? Yeah, it's tough. But we signed on for the duty. We'll be fine."
Asked if James felt disappointed, Kirk Ferentz replied, "Sure. He cares."
Iowa's recent off-field issues are magnified because of a wave of player arrests in 2007 and the early part of 2008. In response to the trend, Ferentz in September hired former player Chigozie Ejiasi as director of player development, and the number of arrests has since declined significantly.
Starting defensive end Adrian Clayborn was arrested last month and faces a misdemeanor charge of assault causing bodily injury stemming from a Jan. 18 incident involving a taxi driver in Iowa City. Clayborn on Wednesday entered a plea of not guilty and continues to practice with the team.
"Alcohol's a huge problem on any college campus, and it's basically been at the root of any incidents we've had this year," Ferentz said. "I don't anticipate that going away totally in the next 100 years. We're going to deal with it, but I'm not overly concerned. ... If you look at this year from August on, I don't think this is an exceptional year [for off-field incidents]. Would we like to do better? Yeah. But I don't think we're much different than any college campus."
His son's arrest has prompted some to question Kirk Ferentz's control within the program. But Hawkeyes players are firmly behind their coach.
"He's a tough son of a gun," linebacker Pat Angerer said. "The people who write stuff in the paper, they don't [know] anything. They don't know what's going on in the program, they don't know how hard he works, how much he cares about everyone on the team."
Kirk Ferentz reiterated that he would like each Iowa team to be judged individually, but he understands the additional scrutiny of the incidents because his son has been involved.
"He's not like any kid on the team, I know that," the coach said. "We signed on for that a year ago, and we all knew that going in. That's one of the downsides. He's going to have to deal with it, but we'll all get through it."
Adam Rittenberg covers Big Ten football for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.