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The Aaron Hernandez Situation Is Starting to Affect the Iowa Football Program

With two assistant coaches having close ties to Aaron Hernandez, it's fair to wonder how much the murder investigation is affecting their day-to-day work.


By now, you're probably exquisitely aware of the legal trouble former Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez faces. Hernandez was arrested last week on several charges, including murder, in the death of acquaintance Odin Lloyd. The investigation into Hernandez's behavior that night and thereafter has been the subject of seemingly endless coverage on ESPN and most other sports programming networks.

But for the regular sports fan like you or us, we have a choice on whether we give any thought to the Hernandez trial. If it stops being a thing we want to care about, we can turn the coverage off. We can focus our energies on our families, careers and lives. We are observers, but that's about all.

A couple Iowa coaches are in a different position. Take for example DJ Hernandez, a recent hire by the Hawkeyes as a graduate assistant working with the receivers. DJ was in Bristol, CT (likely with family, as Aaron resides there) and made the mistake of eating food in public. We'll let the Hartford Courant take it from there:

Someone at the Gold Roc Diner shouted "Hey, Aaron Hernandez" after seeing a man the person thought looked like the former Patriots star and Bristol native who was charged with murder last week, police said. A fight broke out, and two of the three people who were arrested as a result told police that they had been sitting with DJ Hernandez, Aaron Hernandez's brother.

Two of the alleged combatants and a woman who had been sitting at a nearby table were injured, police said. All declined medical treatment.

It's important to note that by all accounts, Hernandez was not involved in the fight itself, and he had excused himself from the situation before police even arrived. There's no evidence that suggests he did anything wrong. But still—he's dealing with a brother facing murder charges and the mere resemblance he shares with his brother is causing fights up in New England.

To a lesser extent, there's also Brian Ferentz. Ferentz is likely the avenue through which DJ Hernandez got his job as a graduate assistant, and Ferentz was Hernandez's position coach as recently as 2011. Think about if you worked with an alleged murderer two years ago. Think about if you were in a supervisory position with that person. That would haunt you just a little bit, would it not?

And while we don't think for a second that Brian Ferentz is going to be made available to the press any time soon, thre's probably a few folks out there who would certainly like to talk to him about Hernandez. Urban Meyer was just asked that question at a friggin' youth football camp on Monday, and Meyer hasn't coached Hernandez since 2009. So if you don't get a Brian Ferentz quote about Hernandez now or in the next five years, it probably won't be for a lack of interest from the press.

The most difficult aspect of this from Kirk Ferentz's point of view is that there's really nothing he can do to ameliorate the situation. Obviously neither Brian nor DJ are involved in the alleged crime itself, and giving either of them time off would accomplish what, exactly? Probably nothing good for the program and probably nothing good for either of the two coaches either; what would they do if not coach?

No, the solution here is to just keep heads down and go to work every day and get through this. Maybe the necessity of focus makes them better coaches. Who knows? It's an awkward situation for any program to be in and here's to hoping it doesn't affect the Hawkeyes in any material fashion in 2013.