RHIBDOGATE, Continued. Those of us who have been through the previous Iowa football scandals know the timeline: First, something that looks really horrible happens. Then, through sheer incompetence, Barta and his staff make it look like they're either clueless or engaged in a cover-up. Ferentz eventually does a news conference, and things die down. These have all happened, which means it's time for the press to turn an honest investigation into a witchhunt in order to keep the story going in three, two, one...
While 13 Iowa football and players were hospitalized with a muscle disorder, the team's top doctor was attending a weeklong meeting at a luxurious Costa Rican resort known for its stunning beaches and championship golf course, according to records obtained by The Associated Press.
Dr. Ned Amendola, director of the UI Sports Medicine Center and head physician for the football team and other sports since 2001, attended a meeting of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Four Seasons Resort in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, between Jan. 23 and Jan. 29. He is a director of the group, which is in charge of setting educational standards for the profession and spent more than $200,000 sending Amendola and two dozen others on the trip.
There are so many ridiculous aspects of the AP report that we don't want to continue quoting, but the fact is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with Amendola's response to the situation. The workouts in question took place quite literally across the street from one of the finest hospitals in the country, the hospital for which Amendola works. That hospital provided exemplary treatment to the ill players, treatment which has never been called into question by any person or entity, including the players and their parents. Amendola, by all accounts, does not attend workouts and is not an emergency physician (and, even if he was, this wasn't an emergency situation). He is not responsible for any sort of oversight of workout regiments, and nothing about this situation would be significantly different had he been there. The ridiculous parts about the resort where the conference was being held (which are written to imply that Amendola and the other physicians attending the conference were too busy partying to be bothered) don't mention that the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery is an extremely prestigious group and that Amendola's participation and directorship is in large part because he's a really good doctor.
This is nothing more a hit piece against someone who deserves no blame, done by a half-assed AP sportswriter who doesn't attempt to understand the situation and only wants his name on a story with "Iowa football scandal" in the Google search results. When old sportswriters (like Kornheiser last week) lament the fall of sportswriting, they should first check their own backyard.
Also, ABOS executive director Shepard Hurwitz apparently attended the Phil Haddy School of Public Relations; way to be the first guy to drop a "Nero fiddling" quote when the writer interviewing you is looking for blood.
Why Yes, We Do Play Non-Revenue Sports. It's been a busy week in the sports we don't usually cover, as spring athletics get underway.
Iowa baseball (state champs since 2009!) entered the year with a realistic chance at a Big Ten championship, due to some prize pitching prospects and new NCAA regulations deadening the aluminum bats. It hasn't all been wine and roses, though, as the Hawkeyes have started their season with three losses: A 5-0 shutout against West Virginia, a 3-2 extra-inning defeat against Pitt, and Saturday's 2-0 loss to Seton Hall to close the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Florida. Obviously, given the typically high-scoring nature of college baseball, the problem for Iowa isn't in the pitching. On the ladies' side, two weekend wins in Arizona took the softball team to 3-4 overall.
Iowa's mens' indoor track & field program entered the top 25 this week for the first time since 1998, coming in at 14th. That can only improve after Iowa took thirteen individual titles at this weekend's Iowa Invitational despite holding a number of its top runners out of the event. With the Big Ten Championships next weekend, the Hawkeyes are peaking at the right time. On the women's team, sophomore Casey Taylor set the school record in the weight throw, besting the mark set last week by Majesty Tutson. This is remarkable mostly for the fact that Iowa women's track and field has a weight thrower named Majesty Tutson.
And finally, the women's golf team competed this weekend at the Edwin Watts Challenge in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. An AP reporter immediately began writing a story about how the team didn't immediately travel home from the resort at which they were staying when they heard that thirteen football players were sick. The third and final round is played this morning.
Now, Back to the Money-Makers. As in...basketball? Yes, Frandemonium is translating into more butts in seats at CHA. Average attendance at home games is up to 11,442, up nearly 20% on last year and higher than it ever was under Todd Lickliter. Chalk up those increased numbers to competitiveness, sure, but it's sort of a chicken-and-egg situation:
For the first time in a couple of years, Iowa basketball players can feel the energy when they take the court at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"You do sense it when there is a crowd and this year, the fans are starting to come back and that gets you going when you come out of that tunnel,'' Iowa junior Matt Gatens said. "You feed off of that.''
Gatens isn't alone.
"It's a lot easier to play when there are people there supporting you. When we do something that gets the place rockin' it's a real advantage,'' senior center Jarryd Cole said.
"With the crowds we've had this year, it's starting to feel like home.''
This should all be taken with a grain of salt, of course, as it comes from the Sioux City Journal and will almost certainly be followed with an anonymous editorial about how Iowa would fill those 4000 empty seats if it would have simply had someone take Brennan Cougill's tests for him, because how was he supposed to write those essays with his short little arms?
Bob Sanders was released by the Colts on Friday. He's a former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, but he was also constantly injured and in a huge contract, so it's not exactly surprising. I know a lot of people are hoping he catches on with another team, and we are too, but given the track record for guys who have made their careers launching themselves at other people, we'd be content if he's healthily doing whatever it is he decides to do.
Yahoo!'s NFL blog Shutdown Corner talks about Adrian Clayborn's draft stock on the eve of the Combine. The writer, Doug Ferrar, comes to the same conclusion that a lot of other scouts are reaching: That Clayborn might be better off as a defensive tackle and will need some pass rush work to play end at the next level. Hawkmania has a broader overview of Hawkeyes at the NFL Combine, where Julian Vandervelde isn't too worried about the Wunderlic test.
Todd Lickliter didn't take the bait when given the opportunity to talk about his dismissal last year. "I've seen people lash out and complain, but I haven't done that, nor will I do that. The fact of the matter is if you try to explain why things didn't go well, anything you say is looked at as an excuse. And I'm not interested in that." It was a bad situation and a bad fit (though he wouldn't even say that, to his credit), but as everyone involved has said, Lickliter was -- and remains -- a class act, and BHGP and most other Iowa fans wish him the best.
The Kingsbury Factor (which you should be reading) searches the Sports Illustrated archives and finds no articles on legendary Iowa outside shooter Chris Kingsbury.
A tie once worn by Joe Paterno sells for $10,200 on eBay. The tie involuntarily tightens around your neck whenever an Iowan is near.