Turns out, our president isn’t the only one drawing inspiration from the ‘Bad Boy’ Era Pistons. If winter is the season of giving, then fall must be the season of questionable sportsmanship, particularly in the college football sphere where Iowa and Cincinnati were both guilty of twisting the knife Friday night.
The Hawkeyes, strengthened by a herculean effort from sophomore running back Tyler Goodson (152 combined yards, two touchdowns), were giving Minnesota the business Friday in Minneapolis, leading the Gophers 35-0 with time winding down in the fourth quarter. Even up five touchdowns, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had no intention of taking his foot off the gas, stunningly using all three of his remaining timeouts with 19 ticks left in the final period.
The motivation for this exceedingly petty maneuver remains a mystery, though it may have been prompted by Minnesota who, in spite of its enormous deficit, opted to leave its starters in to avoid what would have been the Gophers’ first shutout loss in three years. Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck, who was predictably flummoxed by this odd development, barely acknowledged Ferentz in their noticeably brief post-game encounter. “They called three timeouts, I don’t know,” said a confounded Fleck via ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg after the Gophers’ 35-7 defeat. “I have no idea what happened.”
“No sense in taking them on the bus with us,” said Ferentz in defense of his late timeout splurge. “[The media] have reminded me of that a couple times over the past 22 years.” Was Ferentz set off by Minnesota keeping its starters on the field (reminiscent of the simmering Ravens/Bengals feud that ensued earlier this year) or was Friday’s timeout-a-palooza merely an instance of bad blood between bitter conference foes? Whatever the reason, the longstanding rivalry has been fairly one-sided of late with Iowa claiming victory each of the last six years.
Ferentz’s stunt probably didn’t win him any new converts in the Twin Cities, though, thanks to undefeated Cincinnati, you could argue it wasn’t even the rudest display on a college football field Friday night. With the game well in hand against visiting East Carolina, the Bearcats ruffled feathers by inexplicably calling for—and successfully executing—a fake punt. ECU coach Mike Houston gave his Cincinnati counterpart Luke Fickell an earful after the game, telling the Bearcats coach off for blatantly running up the score.
With a full day of college football on tap, let’s hope better sportsmanship prevails Saturday.