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Iowa Football: FOIA Emails Between Gary Barta, Kirk Ferentz (Could) Shed Light on Big Ten Return to Fall Season

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This is a not real story that, thanks to ATM and the Big Ten, sadly could be mistaken for something other than a fake lie story that is not true.

North Texas v Iowa
Gary Barta is the ATM: always ready to hand out stacks of cash. Unless you’re a swimmer, gymnast or tennis player.
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The following is a fake lie story that is not true. It’s quite laughable that this needs said, but this did not happen. It is made up with the intention of providing entertainment. Black Heart Gold Pants is not responsible for any decisions made ignoring the preceding statement.


After weeks of consternation following the Big Ten’s decision to postpone football until the spring (and subsequently bring it back to the fall!), Black Heart Gold Pants made an effort to get to the bottom of the process to provide clarity and transparency to what has been highly criticized as a completely nontransparent process. To that end, The Pants submitted a series of FOIA requests to the University of Iowa seeking emails and other communications involving head football coach Kirk Ferentz, athletic director Gary Barta and University president Bruce Harreld.

What was provided by the university in response should shed light on the current situation and how we got here. The following is presented in chronological order of communication.

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Return to Practice

Hey Gary, how are things buddy? Family’s healthy and happy I hope. Just wanted to circle back with you here after the 4th and get any updates you have on scheduling. We’ve got guys slated to be back on campus next weekend and practice is kicking off a week from yesterday. They aren’t gonna pull the rug out from under us like they did Franny in the Tournament are they?

Say hey to Connie for me.

-Kirk

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re:Return to Practice

Hey Kirk, good to hear from you. Connie’s doin just great. Hope Mary and the kids are as well. That reminds me, give me a ring when you get some time this week, we should probably follow up on Brian. Nothing major, just not something you want in email, ya know - all the FOIA stuff these days, ha!

Anywho, no, haven’t heard anything on the scheduling front. I think this thing’s going ahead as planned. Trust me, they wouldn’t be making wholesale changes to schedules without at least talking to me first. I’ll let you know if I hear of anything.

-GB

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: CALL ME ASAP

Kirk, give me a ring ASAP. They just announced they’re cutting football down to conference games only. They definitely asked my input first, but I knew you’d be in favor of it. For sure in favor of it. No doubt. But yeah, just call me when you get a minute.

-GB

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: CALL ME ASAP

Hey Gary, just left you a voicemail. Not a big deal here. We’re going to prepare to play football. We’ve got lots of things to clean up before week one. Just try to give us some heads up on who it’s gonna be so we can start our scout.

-Kirk

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: CALL ME ASAP

Hey real quick, random, shooting from the hip question - the whole conference-only thing does that mean we are only playing the 9 conference games? Feels like we should really try to get closer to 12 like normal.

Oh, and totally unrelated, but Neil’s gonna be giving you a buzz. Couple clarifying questions on the contract and may have a couple Ts to cross, Is to dot, that sort of thing.

-Kirk

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Circling Back

Hey Gary,

Just wanted to circle back with you on the contract stuff. Neil said he hadn’t been able to get your counsel to confirm the details so figured I’d go straight to the horse’s mouth. We both know when we came up with that thing we were talking percentages on the wins thing rather than actual number of games, right? 8 games, 23 of games - it’s the same thing. We don’t have to get anything formal I just want to hear from you that you’re gonna honor that no matter what these guys come up with in terms of a schedule. And on that front, any updates? We’re making progress on the practice front but not knowing who we’ll be playing in a little over a month is driving a few of us crazy.

Talk soon.

-Kirk

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Circling Back

Kirk,

Nothing to report on the schedule front. We’re still working with the presidents and chancellors on this whole thing and let me tell you there’s some real cry babies out there. That yahoo over at Northwestern is talking about maybe canceling the season. Like any of us are even here if that happens! What a nerd!

Anyway, I’ll let you know when we get something coming together. Like I said before, I’m pretty integral in the process. Between that and the CFP stuff, there’s not much that’s not going through me on the football front these days. Might as well call me Barry Alvarez! Watch it, I’ll be coming for your job next! Ha! Just kidding of course. Alright, talk soon.

-GB

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: Circling Back

Thanks Gary. Hey, just want to make sure you saw my note on the contract stuff. 8 games is already a big deal in a normal year, but if they cut this thing short on us I don’t wanna be left holding the bag you know? That reminds me, I read something the other day on the budget issues some places are having without the basketball tournament last spring. I know we’re fine with all the TV money, but between Chris and all those payouts you had I just wanna make sure my guys are gonna be OK on those pay steps and bonuses from last year. The last thing we need right now is a bunch of coaches grumbling about getting stiffed.

-Kirk

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Circling Back

Kirk, hey, just got off the horn with Neil. We’re all good on the contract front. Don’t you worry buddy, we’ve got you taken care of. And your guys too. We’re just fine on the budget side. Sure the hoops thing was a hit and all these settlements are a thorn in the side, but it’s all chump change compared to the football $$$. You just worry about how to keep that pig here and we’ll be talking another extension!

-GB

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Schedule Update

Hey Kirk, know you’re busy with practice stuff but just wanted to keep you updated. Feels like we’re still a ways out on a schedule. Some of these presidents are acting like a bunch of broads. I don’t know who’s worse, the stick in the mud over at Rutgers or that know it all at Northwestern. “Look at me, my school has a prestigious academic program.” Anyway, I know you’re anxious to start game planning and we’re like a month out here so I’ll keep you updated.

-GB

Wednesday, August 5th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Schedule Update

Kirk - tried calling. Call me as soon as you’re in the office. They’re dropping a 10-game schedule today. I know I said they were dragging their feet yesterday but what can I say I’m good at what I do! It was all me that got them rolling. I mean it, I worked em hard last night - really Doyle-ized em!

Anyway, not sure what the schedule looks like exactly or who we added or dropped. Just heard 10 games from Moos over at Nebraska. Well, actually it was a guy who heard Moos talking at a restaurant but same thing. Didn’t hear whether he was still crying about another Black Friday loss! Chat soon.

-GB

Monday, August 10th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Postponing the season?

Gary,

Long time no talk buddy. Hope you guys are doing well. Hey, I just got off the horn with Kristina Johnson over at OSU. She was telling me Gene heard those guys at Northwestern, Rutgers, Maryland and the rest are trying to postpone the season. It’s the first I’d heard of it, but that’s nonsense right? We just got a new schedule last week? Give me a buzz when you get a minute.

-Bruce

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Postponing the season?

GARY -

WHAT’S GOING ON? You never called yesterday and now I’m finding out from reporters we’ve got a postponed football season? What does that mean for your budget? Is the TV money gone? You know you guys can’t touch the general fund - we’ve got our own issues with enrollment down and online classes coming down the pike. We’re just trying to hold this thing together long enough to keep all the room and board money so there’s literally no room for error handing money over to athletics.

CALL ME.

-Bruce

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: CALL ME

What kind of malarkey are you pulling here Gary? We just got a schedule and now you’re telling me we’re off? I just had to tell our kids practice is cancelled and the season is too and I can’t even get you on the phone? Call me! Now!

-KF

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Bruce Harreld
Subject: Problem = Solved

Hey Bruce, just left a message with your assistant but wanted to give you a heads up of something I’m going to be sending over. I solved our whole budget issue here. Football makes all the money so we’re gonna start hacking away at the dead weight. You’re a business guy so I know you get it - when times are tough you gotta make the tough decisions. And that’s what I am - tough. So, we’re gonna be starting with a couple of sports that nobody is gonna miss, we’ll slide it in on a Friday like normal (We find it’s always better to fire people on a Friday - studies have statistically shown that there’s less chance of an incident if you do it at the end of the week). Easy peasy lemon squeezy and we can all get back to figuring out how to squeeze those skirts over at Rutgers and Maryland and that nerd at Northwestern.

-GB

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Problem = Solved

Hey Gary,

I’m just looking over that draft you sent over and I don’t know about this buddy. You’re talking about a $100M problem and a $1M solution. This doesn’t even make a dent in the problem. Believe me, I’m a big fan of corporate downsizing, but are you sure we should be going after swimming and tennis? I mean, didn’t we just build new facilities for those? I get it, sunk costs and all, but there’s a bunch of other non-revenue sports that are going to need new facilities soon whereas these guys were set for a while. And didn’t we have some history in swimming? Let’s chat before you take this plan live.

-Bruce

Friday, August 21st, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: Problem = Solved

Gary - call me ASAP. I said DON’T do this. I know it’s your budget but come on man, we gotta be on the same team here. This is a PR nightmare waiting to happen. Believe me, I know a PR nightmare when I see one and I sure as hell thought you did by now.

-Bruce

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Bruce Harreld
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Problem = Solved

Quit your worrying Brucie! This ain’t my first rodeo. The whole thing will blow over and before you know it, we’ll be talking about something totally different. Just don’t talk about it and wait it out.

Besides, nobody is going to miss those sports, I’m telling you. Did we invent the breast stroke here? Yeah, but we can still do that without a swim team am I right? And with the money we’re saving on these sports, we can cover the raises we had to give to football so it all works out. Trust me.

-GB

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Problem = Solved

Wait, did you say football is getting raises? Buddy, if you pull this off I’ll hand over the keys to the U. Oh, and by the way, I looked and it’s the butterfly, not the breast stroke Gary. Better hope nobody pulls these emails you scoundrel!

-Bruce

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Coming Back?

Gary,

What are you hearing on potentially getting this thing back to the fall? Spring is obviously better than nothing, but I gotta convince our guys to stay off the ped mall until then, I gotta try and sell this thing to high school kids (well, not me personally but you know) who aren’t going to be watching us on TV and I got all these kids we just grabbed in the portal who aren’t going to be getting to play this year. Sure, the idea of a third year redshirt freshman gets me a little fired up (imagine the decision-making abilities a sixth year Aussie punter would have!) but how the heck am I supposed to sell MAC recruits on Iowa if they can’t watch Iowa playing the MAC? Let me know what you’re hearing here buddy.

-Kirk

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Coming Back?

Hey Kirk, I understand the angst. I’m feeling it too, believe. Who woulda thought a bunch of swimmers would be this upset about losing their program? On the football front, the squares at the table still seem to be holding all the cards. I know I told you I was able to get us the Big Ten schedule the first time around but I just don’t know that I can do it twice. I mean, I definitely have all the sway, it’s just these doctors you know? Anyway, I’ll keep fighting the good fight.

-GB

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: Coming Back?

You gotta do more than fight here Gary - we need results. I got my recruiting coordinator telling me every time he picks up the phone to talk to a kid they’re asking when we’re playing. Not only that, they want to know why Iowa State is about to be on the field and we have to wait months. I mean, I know I just cleaned up the state and the guy hasn’t beaten me since he’s been there, but Campbell has offered everyone over the age of 12 in a 500-mile radius and now I got them all wondering if they’re gonna even be able to play if they come here. Let’s get something done!

-Kirk

Saturday, September 12th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Coming Back?

You still worried about old Campbell’s chunky soup? Why don’t you send every recruit you talk to a clip of this:

Anyway, heard Bruce is in meetings all weekend. Not looking great, but at least they’re still talking. I’ll keep you posted.

-GB

Sunday, September 13th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Bruce Harreld
To: Gary Barta
Subject: LOL!

Take that Campbell!

Anyway, good meetings yesterday, more today. I’ll keep you posted.

-Bruce

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: FW: LOL!

Time to quit worrying about that guy in Ames! See Bruce’s note below. I told him last week we had to get this done and that I’d take care of the ADs. Think we might have something here. I’ll see if I can’t use my CFP title to lean on some people. I get things done buddy!

-GB

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Schedule?

Hey so it’s sounding like we might be a go here? I heard Moos let something slip at a presser. What kind of schedule we talking about? We’re still good like we talked on the whole 8 games incentive deal right?

-Kirk

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Schedule?

Don’t trust anything you hear coming out of Nebraska. You know how they are with that whole sellout streak thing - it’s like economic data out of China. I’ll check with Bruce, but I don’t think this has any legs.

-GB

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Re: Re: Schedule?

I DID IT! I GOT US THE CASH COW BACK BABYYYYYYY! Look, it’s only 8 games but if you play your cards right we’re talking a cake matchup on championship weekend and don’t you worry about the incentives. We’re back baby!

-Bartdog

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Schedule?

Great news Gary (don’t every call yourself Bartdog again)! Let me know when we can get back to practice and when we get a schedule. I don’t know how you keep skating by but you always seem to slide through. Thanks buddy!

-Kirk

Saturday, September 19th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Gary Barta
To: Kirk Ferentz
Subject: Schedule

Kirk- tried calling and texting. Schedule is dropping in ten minutes on FOX. I know I should’ve gotten something sooner but it feels like they keep excluding me from stuff and not sending me deets. I think they’re jealous of the CFP committee thing. Whatever, losers. Anyway - FOX. Now. Schedule.

-Gardog

Sunday, September 20th, 2020

Communication Type: Email
From: Kirk Ferentz
To: Gary Barta
Subject: Re: Schedule

That’ll pay Gary, that’ll pay! I mean play. Well, both actually. Time to get back to work. Lot of things to clean up before Purdue. Wish we had more time but that’s football.

Oh, and Gardog is a no too. You can’t nickname yourself. If you really want one, just go by what we’ve all been calling you: ATM.

-Kirk


Again, this is clearly not a real story. Don’t be gullible. This is a fake lie story that did not happen. Sadly, the state of our athletics department and the world we find ourselves in makes it at least not all totally unbelievable.