The Muted End

According to the National Coalition Against Censorship and Mike Hlas, Kirk Ferentz recently engaged in a blatant act of censorship. Ferentz, for reasons not wholly understood, chose not to make Derrell Johnson-Koulianos available to the media after the spring game this past Saturday.

It was in keeping with a pattern Ferentz has established with DJK, limiting the wide reciver's free expression to the media since his freshman year. Censorship, in general, is a tactic Ferentz has employed with regularity with freshmen but it is not often seen with upperclassmen. DJK was held back despite being a rising senior, a star player and an impeccable dresser. 

This did not go unnoticed by Mike Hlas who pointed out recently on his Gazette blog that DJK is very much a beloved player by Hawkeye fans. Hlas, like most of us, is baffled by Ferentz's steadfast reluctance to set DJK free to the media. As Hlas wrote in his blog:

Anyway, I tracked down DJK for a moment after the game and asked why he wasn’t participating in post-scrimmage interviews. “They don’t let me talk,” he said. “I don’t know why.” I asked if he’d be getting in trouble for telling me that. “Probably,” he said with a smile. Then he jogged off to sign what probably ended up being a few hundred autographs for young fans who clearly adore him.

 

For those who have followed DJK’s career it is a well-known fact that the door to Ferentz’s doghouse is always open for the Dapper Ohioan, although no one knows for sure why. In the past most suspected it might have been due to his not so Protestant work ethic. As for the spring game exclusion, here are just a few speculations as to why Ferentz may have decided not to allow Johnson-Koulianos to speak with the media:

  • DJK does not use enough pre-approved clichés.
  • DJK uses his smile as a paralinguistic tool to subliminally send messages to every reporter except Harty.
  • DJK refers to himself in the fourth person.
  • DJK’s just not with the program, yet.

Typically when Ferentz holds back a player from the media it is to protect the player. In the case of DJK though it appears Ferentz is making a misguided effort to protect the team. What is most confusing is that this was a spring game. It’s not as if there is an upcoming opponent who’ll be using his comments as bulletin board material. Besides, what could DJK say that could really hurt the team anyway? Let’s speculate:

 "I like McNutt and Davis a lot, I'll be happy when they retire the Faberge cologne and Members Only jackets."

"With the running backs acting up, I’m guessing Ken will be wanting to talk Wildcat with me…again."

"Did I ever tell you guys about Kirk’s daughter?"

"Soup? Makes a killer margarita and other than DiBona, has the most convincing theories on Roswell and the Princess Di murder, er, accident."

I wonder if this is a universal for Ferentz too. I recall Mitch King as pretty outspoken yet he was always available to the media. He would not hesitate to speak bluntly (bordering on disorderly), and occasionally did so about the opposition--as he famously did before the Outback Bowl in 2009. So, why was he deserving of different treatment than Johnson-Koulianos receives even now? How come he didn’t get the muzzle? Perhaps it is because King symbolized the lunch pail attitude that Ferentz holds near and dear, while DJK symbolizes effortless cool, making things look almost carefree—an impression Ferentz is not in synch with.

After the spring game I was able to get DJK’s cell phone number and spoke with him about all this off the record. Below is a loose reenactment of that phone call with certain parts spiced up for dramatic effect.

Me: Do you feel that Ferentz is trying to motivate you by limiting your contact with the media?

DJK: I hope not. Because no one is more motivated than me. It’s kind of like that Churchill quote. I am enthusiasm, wrapped in zeal, inside an enema.

Me: I see. Well let’s cover some topics then. Is KOK using you properly?

DJK: Almost. He lets me stretch the field, but he needs to get me on some reverses. And on the EA Sports College Football 2010 I am devastating on a wide receiver screen, so he needs to look at that.

Me: You were a QB in high school right?

DJK: And I coached the tight ends…for fun.

Me: As a high school player, did you envision yourself as a wide receiver in college?

DJK: To tell you the truth, I envisioned myself as a Bond Trader in lower Manhattan. But maybe this is just a bump in the road.

Me: Who do you pattern your game after?

DJK: Well, during the season last year I would have said Trump, but now I would say Tiger.

Me: When you grow up what do you want to be?

DJK: Another Ricky Stanzi or the Ricky Stanzi. Yeah, one of those or either of those.

 

Eventually it always comes back to Stanzi.

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