Well, that wasn’t exactly a banner week for Iowa athletics, was it? I mean, I guess it was in the truest sense of the term, but not quite the banner Hawkeyes fans hope for. As usual, the biggest news came in the 4pm Friday news dump. In case you’ve been totally disconnected from the world since then, The University of Iowa agreed to pay $6.5M to settle the upcoming case with Tracey Griesbaum and put the Jane Meyer case fully in the rearview mirror.
Yikes. That’s a few dollars. Nothing that will bankrupt the athletic department and given the potential for terrible press associated with the Griesbaum trial, coupled with its other recent troubles (Meyer, the critical audit), I think it was a wise choice to put this behind them as quickly as possible and try to move forward.
Following the announcement, Athletic Director Gary Barta released the statement below:
Gary Barta statement through U of I press release. pic.twitter.com/xgElPjymfc— Rob Howe (@RobHoweHN) May 19, 2017
Regardless of your opinions on the individuals involved or the outcome, I think we can all agree it shouldn’t have gotten to this point and now we can look forward. The University of Iowa is still a great institution with a lot to offer. I’m still a Hawkeye fan, and if you’re still here, I assume you are too. So let’s move on.
What does all this mean for the aforementioned Barta? I don’t know. I’ve seen speculation he is fired. I’ve seen speculation he steps away before he’s fired. I’ve seen speculation nothing happens. I really don’t know.
I’ve certainly had my questions about the job he’s done. The Lickliter disaster is a serious black eye. But I give him the benefit of the doubt given my recollection of the general consensus on Lick when the hire was made. And his ability to pivot from that and deliver Fran is something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
He’s made some questionable calls with regard to Kirk Ferentz’s contract extentions and if we learned nothing else from the Meyer trial, it’s that he’s not the best at documenting things. He passed on doing some pretty basic things I expect out of a decent manager. But at the end of the day, the athletic department is in pretty good shape both financially and from an on-field performance standpoint.
We’re a year removed from a Big Ten Championship Game in football, just missed a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament in men’s hoops, the baseball team is on their way to the fourth consecutive Big Ten Tournament under Rick Heller and even some of the non-revenue sports are making waves (yes, I’m talking rowing, baby).
So, does he get the boot? I have no idea. If he does, who replaces him? What would that mean for the department and the university more broadly? Big questions for a Monday morning.
With all the buzz around the massive settlement, it’s easy to have missed this little tidbit that dropped from Iowa Basketball last week:
Cordell Pemsl was riddled with injuries throughout high school, but this one seems much more minor. Regardless, the surgery will have him on the sidelines for two months, including all of the Prime Time League this summer. That’s a bit of a bummer for those of us in the corridor (and those watching updates from afar), but better now than mid-season.
Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery and no major impact to Pemsl’s conditioning come this fall. The Hawkeyes have a pair of big men coming on campus who will be competing with Pemsl and Tyler Cook (and Dom Uhl and Nicholas Baer I suppose). The adjustment from high school to the Big Ten is nothing to slouch at, but a key cog missing from the existing lineup may create an opportunity for Luka Garza or Jack Nunge.
Speaking of missing news, I hope nobody missed what Iowa Baseball’s Jake Adams has done this season. Adams went yard twice in the season finale last Friday, after doing so the day before. The four home runs in two days were enough for Adams to not only tie the Iowa record for home runs in a single season, but then surpass it by two.
Home run #24 for Jake Adams, his second of the game (plus a two-run single in between the HR's)! https://t.co/GjE2frFQIk— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 20, 2017
The power surge was enough to push Iowa into the 5th place spot in the Big Ten. They were playing for a potential tie for the regular season title, but lost in game one of double-header against Illinois. Despite falling short of the title, the Hawkeyes made the Big Ten Tournament for the fourth consecutive year in as many years under coach Rick Heller.
Iowa will take on Maryland at 7:30pm on Wednesday. The tournament runs next Wednesday through Sunday and can be seen on the BTN. Here’s the bracket.
For those of you wondering how a guy hits 24 home runs in a season, here’s a quick look at Adams putting in some work.
More of college baseball dinger leader with 24. Combine technology at Iowa with creative staff-if I had a kid I send him to Iowa Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/bDUAcNjQ00— SwingFaster (@SuccessLvsClues) May 20, 2017
On the football front, Iowa snagged a commitment from Illinois’ player of the year Samson Evans. Evans is a 3-star in the class of 2018 who is expected to play WR for the Hawkeyes. That’s certainly a position of need. He’s the 6th member of the class.
One of the prize commits in the 2017 class was Mt. Vernon’s Tristan Wirfs. Like many of the great Hawkeyes throughout history, Wirfs isn’t just a great football player, but a multi-sport star in high school. With this weekend’s state track meet, the future Iowa OL finished his high school career with 5 state track championships. The guy can throw his weight around.
Future Hawkeye Tristan Wirfs' final tally— Blair Sanderson (@BlairRIVALS) May 20, 2017
5-time State Track Champ
3-time Drake Relays Champ
State Champ Wrestler
Army All-American Football pic.twitter.com/R8I2ah4BXf
While we are talking football, why not check in on a few former Hawkeyes? CJ Beathard seems to be fitting in just fine in San Francisco. The new 49er has a new number.
Still not convinced the Niners are the team I should latch on to in my NFL fandom free agency, but good to see former Hawkeyes in the league. Much better than some of the alternatives, anyway. I mean, if not for the NFL, the guy could be out, like, running a fast food join.
Not the type of thing I was expecting to see on my timeline this weekend. Seriously, hope former Hawkeye coach Eric Johnson is enjoying his life and time with his family. But that has to be one of the strangest career paths or football stories I’ve ever seen. Best of luck Mr. Johnson. Please send cement mixers. K thnx.
And because we are talking about former Hawkeyes, I can’t let this one slip by.
In honor of tonight's NBA lottery:— Jim Weber (@JimMWeber) May 16, 2017
"I thought LeBron James was just going to be another addition to help me score."
- Tyree Ricardo Davis pic.twitter.com/4TJN17j0dA
Ricky Davis was an amazing player. One of the few guys to come through Iowa City and make the leap to the NBA early. And his NBA career wasn’t anything to scoff at. OK, so maybe there was a little to scoff at.
Monday morning sage wisdom: never change who you are. Whether that’s being the guy who takes a shot at the wrong hoop with 3 seconds left in a game to try and get some meaningless stats or it means walking away from a 6-figure job coaching power 5 conference football to be a restaurant franchisee, you do you.
Happy Monday, and Go Hawks!