It's always sad to write a new entry in the Gone Baby Gone series because the very nature of the series is to chronicle sudden, unexpected departures. But most of the time the Iowa athletes discussed therein are just transferring to a different school. It's sad that they won't be contributing to Iowa's future success on the field or court or mat, but at least they'll still be competing somewhere. Unfortunately, that's not the case with Mr. DiBona. DiBona's departure comes not due to transfer, but due to retirement. DiBona's Iowa career has been marked by bad luck: after playing sparingly in 2010 he seemed poised to contend for a Jeremiha Hunter's weakside linebacker spot in 2011, only to be stricken with rhabdomyolysis during the spring and felled by an Achilles tendon injury in pre-season camp. He evidently re-aggravated that Achilles tendon injury this spring, hence the decision to call it quits.
We'll mourn DiBona's departure for its hit on our ability to make ginger jokes (DiBona was one of the fieriest redheads to ever don black and gold) and fifth-grade boner jokes (between DiBona's retirement and the graduations of Thomas Nardo and Woody Orne, the porn friendliness of our roster has taken a big hit; at least we still have Steven Staggs and Adam Cox), but also for its impact on the football field. DiBona played sparingly in his Iowa career -- he redshirted in 2009 and injuries forced him to sit all of 2011. 2010 was the only year he saw action and most of that was on special teams (see: above photo, where DiBona's crushing some dude so Paki can score on a blocked punt against Eastern Illinois). He did get to start two games that year (against Michigan State and Indiana) during the Great Linebackerocalypse that laid waste to the linebacker depth chart, but his career stats amount to just thirteen total tackles.
It's hard to know where DiBona would have fit in moving forward -- Iowa's defense has shifted toward smaller, speedier linebackers in recent years and Anthony Hitchens, Christian Kirksey, and James Morris appear to have established themselves as the top-three options at LB this year -- but having experienced depth wouldn't have been a bad thing. DiBona was always a player the coaches were fairly high on, too, so there was a sense that he had some untapped potential there. Alas, persistent injuries are going to guarantee that potential stays untapped. DiBona will remain on scholarship at Iowa and pursue his degree here; we wish him the best of luck in the future.