Commentary: Gaglione, Hawkeyes lose their cool


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Dan Enos saw an Iowa player and a Central Michigan player exchange punches after a kickoff. He saw the teams engage in post-whistle skirmishes throughout the first quarter on Sept. 22. And he knew the referees “had had enough of it.”

So he called his team together.

“You get into a football game, if somebody punches you, you can’t punch them back,” the Chippewa head coach said. “We spent a lot of time addressing our players on the sideline about it. I said, ‘If I have to walk out there and get punched for 15 yards, I’ll do it.’ It’s about winning, so you have to put your own selfish retaliation aside and play.”

If only Joe Gaglione had heard that message.

The Hawkeyes were already in crisis mode when Gaglione lost his cool. They had just allowed Central Michigan to recover an onside kick in the final minute of the game, trailing by only 2 points.

And on just the second play of that last-gasp drive, Gaglione ended up lying on the ground in the backfield with Chippewa guard Darren Keyton on top of him.

Keyton stayed there a bit longer than Gaglione thought necessary. The Hawkeye senior claimed Keyton poked him in the eye. So Gaglione shoved his opponent off, just as a referee turned around to look.

The resulting 15-yard penalty moved Central Michigan into Iowa territory. All they needed was one quarterback scramble to reach field-goal range and send Iowa tumbling into turmoil.

“It was a stupid mistake. All I was trying to do was push him off me,” Gaglione said. “He was completely sitting on me. It’s a bad call, but we’ve just got to move on to next week … I guess it’s always the second guy who gets called.”

It was a touchy call for an official to make. But Gaglione, a fifth-year senior, opened the door for it when he shoved Keyton.

“You just have to keep your poise and let the referees officiate,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think every player has to realize if they get involved in a two-way, they run the risk of being caught … In that situation in particular, we just have to be a smarter team.”

Gaglione’s lapse in judgment was the backbreaker for Iowa. But it was just one of four personal fouls the Hawkeyes committed.

The Hawkeyes have committed six personal fouls on the season. Central Michigan hasn’t had one.

Reserve linebacker Travis Perry was whistled for a late hit on a first-quarter kick return. It moved Iowa from the 33-yard line back to the 18. Mark Weisman fumbled on the next play, and Central Michigan got a 33-yard field goal out of it. But without the penalty, it would have been a 48-yard attempt straight into a fierce wind.

That’s 6 points almost directly resulting from a pair of after-the-whistle penalties against Iowa.

That’s the kind of thing that helps explain losses to bottom-feeding Mid-American Conference teams.

“It’s just guys and maybe their pride,” linebacker James Morris said. “If somebody pushes me, I’ve got to push them back. That’s a losing battle. You’re never going to win it.”

Micah Hyde was more direct.

“It’s just stupid. Stupid football,” the senior cornerback said. “It’s giving them easy yards. You can’t win ball games giving up 15 yards on a stupid play. Coach tries to prepare us for that. That’s horrible.”

Both teams heard it from their coach.

Only one listened.

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