The biggest Iowa-related sports story of the weekend may not have been the men's basketball team getting off to their worst-ever start in conference play, or the wrestling team losing their 69-meet winning streak, or even the women's hoopsters notching a big win over Indiana. No, it was probably Adam Robinson's public apology-cum-plea for reinstatement:
"I’ve always wanted to be a Hawkeye," Robinson said Sunday. "I have no wishes or desires to leave the Hawkeye team.
"I apologize to my family, former teammates, coaches, my friends, the Hawkeye nation and everyone who supported me," Robinson said in a prepared statement.
"I know I have disappointed you, and let you down. For that, I am sorry."
Taking his case public is an interesting approach and one that will doubtless garner him sympathy, but it also seems a little questionable for a coach as notoriously close-to-the-vest as Ferentz. You can bet the last thing he wants is more headlines about Iowa's drug-addled football players (an admittedly unfair characterization of Robinson, but one that will doubtless be made by others) or to have his authority challenged in public by a player and his mother. A brief public statement from A-Rob indicating that he intended to remain in school and pursue help while he and his mother pursued a private meeting with Ferentz might have been a better idea.
Interestingly, Robinson indicates that he was inspired by the recent success story of Montell Marion:
Robinson said he hopes to follow the path of Hawkeye wrestler Montell Marion, who was recently reinstated to practice after an eight-month exile initially termed a "permanent suspension" that stemmed from an arrest for drunken driving.
"I read that in the paper (Marion’s return) and that’s what made me want to go ahead with this course of action," Robinson said.
On a surface level, it would seem like Robinson has a great chance if you compare his case with Marion's; Marion wasn't a first-time offender and in fact had been dogged by various legal issues for many years. His infraction last spring was seemingly the straw that broke the camel's back. Conversely, Robinson has never been in any other publicized legal dust-ups, though the marijuane possession arrest came on the heels of some academic problems, which does compound his problem. Unfortunately, Marion's arrest didn't come days after a high-profile teammate was also busted for drugs and there were national headlines (and press conferences) about Iowa's drug testing policy; to say that the timing of A-Rob's arrest was bad would be a woeful understatement.
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg laid out a plan of action for letting Robinson back on the team that seems feasible, under the circumstances:
While Ferentz probably wasn't thrilled to see Robinson appeal to the media, I hope he considers reinstating the running back under strict conditions:
- Robinson should have to complete his drug counseling program
- He must subject to frequent drug testing
- He must remain in excellent academic standing (excellent isn't a 2.5 GPA) with no legal issues
- He can return under a zero tolerance policy, meaning any transgression on the field, off the field or in the classroom results in automatic dismissal
Is all this a bit much, considering the severity (or lack thereof) of Robinson's offense? Absolutely; strictly speaking, Robinson's marijuana possession was no more severe than the alcohol-related infractions that have tripped up various Iowa players and they've almost always been suspended for a game or three, tops. But neither justice nor life are fair and while timing may be a bitch, in this case it's a bitch that must be acknowledged. Whether or not A-Rob should have to suffer from DJK's sins, the truth is he that he is going to have to deal with that baggage, as well as the fallout from the rumor-mongering last month and all the other legal hiccups that have befallen the football team.
Personally, I hope that A-Rob is welcomed back to the fold, both from a cynical "having him back makes the football team better" perspective (and let's not pretend that isn't a factor here, because it is*) and also a more personal level. As Mas Casa noted, A-Rob seems to get into more trouble when he's away from Iowa City; the best thing for him as a person and a student is likely to pull him closer and assist him in getting whatever help he needs, not to push him away and shun him. In the meantime, unless Ferentz chooses to address this topic at his annual National Signing Day press conference in February or one of the Spring Practice pressers in April, don't expect to hear much about this appeal from his end until the end of the semester, when he's had an opportunity to gauge whatever progress A-Rob has made.
* Although let's be honest: from a football perspective he's also coming back after sustaining two concussions in the span of a month at the end of the season (and after Coker staked quite a claim to the starting job in the final month of the season); it's anyone's guess how much he would have been utilized next year anyway.