Credentialgate. Iowa Athletics continues to find new and interesting ways to shoot itself in the foot. On Tuesday, it was press credentials, which the department withheld from Pat Harty and Rob Howe of AllHawkeyes.com:
Two reporters for the independent University of Iowa athletics site AllHawkeyes.com found out Tuesday that the school's athletics department denied them media credentials for the Hawkeyes' 2015 football season. According to site co-founder Rob Howe, Iowa told them that their request was denied because AllHawkeyes is privately owned and not affiliated with a network, such as Rivals.com, Scout.com, or this site, 247Sports.com.
Harty cut to the heart of the matter in a Twitter back-and-forth with Hawkeye Nation's Jon Miller, who has also been denied a press credential for running a site not affiliated with a network after being previously credentialed.
@HawkeyeNation @AllHawkeyesRob Thanks Jon. I can't help but think it's more personal than anything. Being objective makes u a hater to some.— Pat Harty (@PatHarty) August 18, 2015
By 3:30 Tuesday afternoon, the outrage across the Internet forced Iowa to surrender.
Iowa informed us we will be credentialed for '15 football season. We appreciate the reconsideration and thank all of you for your support.— Rob Howe (@AllHawkeyesRob) August 18, 2015
Let's start here: There is absolutely no doubt that Iowa's sports information director attempts to use credentials to influence content. Last month, SB Nation received confirmation directly from Iowa SID Steve Roe following a pair of satirical articles. After an underling had complained about those posts, Roe stated, "[T]his is exactly why we won't credential BHGP, and will do our best to not credential any other SBNation requests as well." It doesn't get much clearer than that: Don't make fun of us or we'll withhold access.
We have never requested a press credential (and never will) for football and basketball, so it's no big deal to us. We don't need access to do what we do. But for those that do, Iowa athletics is intent on censoring content critical of any aspect of their operation.
This fits a pattern of conduct. After all, this is the same department that tried to hide the fact that the football program had put a handful of players in the hospital four years ago, that told the press that academic advisor Peter Gray had resigned "for personal reasons" in order to avoid raising a red flag to the media about his transgressions, and that announced the controversial firing of a successful non-revenue coach in the middle of last year's football media day to try to bury the story. Fortunately, those dogged reporters with access granted by their affiliation with traditional newspapers were able to uncover those stories. And even though this site has a complicated history with Pat Harty, the fact is he was one of those reporters; he wrote the final post linked above. To deny him access for an arbitrary, antiquated and outright stupid technicality would be a disservice to the same fans that are Iowa Athletics' customers.
Iowa might have finally gotten this one right, but the reason they got it wrong in the first place is still a grave concern.
Like Looking Into the Abyss and Seeing Yourself. Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples profiled TCU coach Gary Patterson and his decision to embrace the air raid offense last year (be warned: You're about to get an earful of autoplaying Denis Leary when you open that link). For those unfamiliar with TCU's offensive revolution last season, the defensive-minded Patterson brought in two new coordinators last year to modernize his offense. I'll let Andy explain why:
Patterson, after his most frustrating season as a head coach, realized he needed to make major changes. Not only did his offense struggle to keep pace on the scoreboard with the rapid-fire offenses in the Big 12, it also couldn't give the Horned Frogs defense an adequate look at the speed it would face in a game.
After Meacham and Cumbie arrived, the offense and the defense got better. An already excellent Horned Frogs defense went from allowing 4.8 yards a play in 2013 to 4.7 in '14, second best in the Big 12. Meanwhile, TCU's record improved to 12-1.
The second point in Staples' first paragraph -- that a slow-down, save-the-defense offense doesn't give the defense a chance to see the speed it would face on Saturdays -- might as well be written about an Iowa defense victimized by perimeter speed throughout 2014. Iowa's attempts to limit tempo and reduce the number of plays per game have been the football equivalent stacking sandbags against a tsunami for three years now, but the defense's simply inability to adjust to faster, more athletic opponents -- and last year, almost every opponent fell in that category -- was critical to every loss. Saving the defense might well be killing it.
Kirk Ferentz talks about dogs and other stuff with WHO's Keith Murphy. It's one of those interviews that makes you remember why you liked the guy in the first place.
Another August tradition returns: Athlon published their anonymous quotes about Big Ten football teams from the league's coaches. I think they have cut and pasted the same quotes about Iowa running the same stuff since 2011.
NFL Network's Undrafted is going to profile former Iowa running back Brandon Wegher:
Undrafted goes on the air on September 22. Set your DVRs.