Barta, Ferentz discuss state of football program


David Scrivner/The Daily Iowan
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In the end, head coach Kirk Ferentz and Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta called a Tuesday press conference for one reason: damage control.

Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos remains banished from the team following his arrest on Dec. 7 on seven drug-related charges. Running back Jewel Hampton will transfer from Iowa in what Ferentz called a "mutual decision" following a conversation Sunday evening.

And backfield mate Adam Robinson is suspended from all team activity until the beginning of the spring semester.

All the other rumors? They're unfounded, Barta and Ferentz said Tuesday.

No, other players were not suspended or kicked off the team. No, there were not numerous failed drug tests among football players. And no, Ferentz didn't resign in the wake of recent speculation surrounding his program.

"I'm not a huge fan of the social networks — just so much misinformation out there," Ferentz said in the basement of the Hayden Fry Football Complex Tuesday, reading occasionally from a note card. "… It just seemed like it might be time to address this."

Calling the recent events surrounding the program "transactions," Ferentz said everyone on the roster — minus Johnson-Koulianos, Hampton, and Robinson — will make the trip to Tempe, Ariz., for a Dec. 28 matchup with Missouri in the Insight Bowl.

Ferentz declined to discuss the specifics that lead to Robinson's suspension or Hampton's transfer. The head coach would only point to the running backs' prior disciplinary issues — Hampton missed the season's first game because of a summer arrest, and Robinson was benched for the first quarter of the Ohio State game because of academic issues.

The 12-year head coach said Robinson "wasn't learning fast enough" from the mistakes that caused him to be benched against the Buckeyes. It will be Robinson's decision whether to return to the team in January, Ferentz said, noting that "my anticipation is he'll be back here in January."

Ferentz was quick to point out that neither Robinson's status nor Hampton's status should be lumped in with Johnson-Koulianos' drug incident last week. Contending that it's a coach's job to "shape behaviors and sometimes try to change behaviors," Ferentz iterated his players' need to adhere "to what we look for."

"Everybody's got choices," he said. "We're pretty firm in what we want to do, how we conduct our business. Sometimes it's not comfortable for a player to stay with the program. And I don't want to speak for Jewel, but talking in broad-based terms, those are decisions players have to make."

During Tuesday's press conference, Ferentz refused to mention Johnson-Koulianos' name. Instead, the head coach referred to DJK as "that player" on one occasion.

Ferentz was asked about the possibility of Johnson-Koulianos participating in an off-season and NFL draft workouts. His response: "That decision has been made. That player is off the team. He's done. He's done with us."

The program's overall image came up several times Tuesday. With national headlines citing Johnson-Koulianos for running a "drug house" and speculation rampant about the possibility of future suspensions and defections, Ferentz and Barta were both prompted with questions regarding Iowa's perception.

Ferentz said the constant negative media attention is "never a good thing."

Barta said, "For [Tuesday], it's no fun to stand up here and talk about a challenge we're dealing with. Overall, I think people understand what we stand for."

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