One day after his department's "Black and Gold Feedback" fan survey was met with a collective eye roll by Iowa football ticket holders, Hawkeye athletic director Gary Barta met with the assembled press and defended the glorified push poll. "I truly don't understand the criticism," Barta said. "'Win. Graduate. Do it right' is not five words of corporate pablum that we use to cover up fundamental problems in the department."
"Well, I should say it isn't just that," Barta continued. "It's also the mantra under which our entire department operates. It's a tried-and-true measure of athletic accomplishment at all levels, not just collegiate sports, and a motto utilized by such legendary leaders as Vince Lombardi and the coach who wasn't Denzel in Remember the Titans."
The survey, published by The Gazette Wednesday, asks fans to rank the importance of winning, graduating, and "doing it right" each on a scale of 1 to 10. It then inquired as to whether fans applied different standards to different programs, specifically citing standards for wrestling against those for women's soccer. Finally, it required the respondent prioritize the three factors, in the event that there were any tie scores in the original grading. It did not define "winning," nor did it explain whether "graduating" should include Iowa's absurdly high football attrition rate or just what "doing it right" means. "All that difficult standard-setting is best left to the respondents," Barta said. "That's not really what I do here."
When challenged on his invocation of Lombardi, the fabled Green Bay Packers coach, Barta responded with a quote: "It was Lombardi who once said, 'Winning isn't everything. There's also graduating and doing it right.'" He followed by quoting former Raiders owner Al Davis as saying, "Just win, baby. And graduate. And do it right."
"Look, it's even been used in famous movie speeches," the longtime Iowa athletic director continued. "Just watch this legendary clip from Rocky II." He then rolled in a projector and played the following clip:
"Or, consider the famous 'Game of Inches' speech from Any Given Sunday," Barta said. "It's probably the most famous use of 'Win. Graduate. Do it Right' in cinema."
"And as I previously mentioned, Remember the Titans, a movie that Coach Ferentz loves so much that he stole its offensive playbook, adopts the phrase," Barta concluded.
When a reporter pointed out that he still had not explained why he asked his football season ticket holders to define the phrase for him, Barta was equipped with an answer. "We figured that, if we asked football fans to weigh graduating, doing it right and that other thing, they might just forget about that other thing by the end of the survey. That would allow us to sell more football tickets, keep Coach Ferentz after this season, and sell the box of 'Graduates Do It Right' novelty shirts that Rick Klatt mistakenly bought from Spencer Gifts last year."
"As for asking whether a different standard should be applied to men's sports like wrestling than is applied to women's sports like soccer," Barta continued, "I'm confident football fans will confirm that the double standard that I have applied during my tenure and that has the department in the middle of a federal gender discrimination investigation was completely justified."
Barta was finally asked what he planned to do with the results of a survey that has no apparent use. "For instance," the questioner asked, "what happens if every fan responds that winning is a ten and everything else is a zero?" Barta said, "The way I see it, the fans have three choices for their next football coach: Bret Bielema, a chemistry professor, or Spike Lee. They get to vote."
"And then I'll hire Pete Lembo," he concluded.