For the second straight year, a lower-level Iowa football assistant appears to have bid adieu to coaching. DJ Hernandez, a graduate assistant from Connecticut, changed his Twitter profile to indicate that he had taken a position as a project manager for New View Roofing & Remodeling in Dallas, Texas, and refers to himself as a "Former Collegiate Football Coach & Athlete." He hasn't tweeted anything publicly about the move; the last activity was an RT of the Hawkeye football account just last week.
Pat Harty was the first to note this move:
DJ Hernandez, according to his twitter profile, now works as a project manager for a remodeling company in Dallas and is no longer coaching.— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) May 18, 2015
It should be noted that Iowa's staff list still included Hernandez and his official bio is still active (at least as of 7:30 Monday morning—one can assume the admins are still climbing out of bed) and there's no other indication on the official site that Hernandez had moved on, though again, the day is early. In fact, the last we've heard from the Iowa staff about Hernandez was in the aftermath of his brother's murder conviction—you may have heard a thing or two about that—when Kirk Ferentz offered a pretty broad statement of support. Via Hawkmania.com:
"It's a very tough thing for D.J. to go through,'' Kirk Ferentz said. "D.J. is a tremendous young man, had a great career at the University of Connecticut and was a very unselfish player there, a two-time captain, a very good student. There are a lot of things in life that are tough to explain. I'm not sure anybody can explain this one.''
Indeed, for the awful circus that Aaron's life had become, we never got a sense that any of it had come to Iowa's doorstep or in any way clouded the work that D.J. had come to town to do, and while you'd like to think that any head coach with a rudimentary sense of maturity would keep a level head about that, much more trivial things have been offered up as the dreaded "distractions" in the football world, so Ferentz deserves some credit for this.
At the same time, this is two straight years where someone on the Iowa staff has decided that football is just not what they want to do anymore. Hernandez's apparent departure doesn't have the "lolwut" factor of 15-year program veteran Eric Johnson becoming a Culver's owner, as happened around this time in 2014, but Johnson's decision to leave just might be relevant here too.
In what we're assuming is a coincidence, HawkeyeNation.com just posted a follow-up with Johnson on Sunday, where his impression of the work environment in the Iowa football program was not exactly complimentary. Here's a snippet:
He grew increasingly unhappy at work, and said he didn't enjoy the job every day.
"I didn't always enjoy being around the people in that building all the time," he said. "How we did things changed a little bit and the attitudes had changed. When I first went to Iowa, we were all there to work together for one common goal. When I started reflecting on what I wanted to do with my life, I don't think we had that anymore."
Johnson cited an unwillingness on Iowa's part to compete for higher-level recruits and a 110-hour work week that hampered his ability to be present as a father for his daughters. It's also not hard to read into where HN says Johnson "describ[es] Ferentz's coaching in the early years of the program as some of the best examples of leadership he'd ever seen." The early years were a long time ago, man.
Now, these are two different guys with two different family/life situations who filled two different roles for the Iowa program. And coaching isn't for everyone; it's as up-or-out as any other highly competitive, tiered industry. So what relevance Johnson's experience has toward Hernandez's decision to leave will have to remain unclear until some statements are made. And even then, there may be no similar moments of candor—and they might not be necessary to boot. So we'll see. All we know for sure is that another Iowa coach is telling the football world a final peace out, and that's... sort of odd.