MADISON, Wis. – Only Adam Woodbury knows the truth. And he pleaded not guilty Wednesday, no matter what the court of public opinion believes.
Iowa's junior center was accused by ESPN's Dan Dakich of intentionally sticking his finger in the eyes of Wisconsin players Nigel Hayes and Frank Kaminsky during Iowa's blowout loss to the nation's sixth-ranked team Tuesday night at the Kohl Center. Dakich called it a "cowardly" act.
Speaking though Iowa's media relations office at the request of the Des Moines Register, Woodbury said Wednesday his actions were not deliberate.
"I try to play hard and tough every time I take the court," Woodbury said. "In no way did I go out there with the intention to hurt someone. That's not who I am. I might be a lot of things, but I am not a coward and I was not deliberately trying to poke anyone in the eye."
Both Dakich, who worked Tuesday's game, and the Wisconsin State Journal called for Woodbury to be suspended. All plays are reviewed as part of the Big Ten's officiating review process. Spokesman Brett McWethy said that if a sportsmanship violation has occured, the league would then issue a statement.
Replays showed Woodbury catching both Badger players in the eye. In the second half, his hand brushed the top of Kaminsky's head, then caught his left eye.
"My hand was in their space because they are really good shooters and I was trying to disrupt their timing," Woodbury explained. "It was inadvertent and I apologize. I have great respect for Wisconsin and its players. I've moved on from this and have begun preparation for Purdue on Saturday."
Asked what he thought of the eye-poking after the game, Kaminsky joked, "I'm blind." Then he added, "It happens during the game. I've had much worse happen."
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery defended his player Tuesday when told of Dakich's comments, saying, "There is absolutely no way Adam Woodbury did that on purpose. Dan Dakich is completely out of line. He crossed the line. He is not right. It was an accident."
Dakich disagreed with McCaffery's reaction on Twitter, both Tuesday night and again Wednesday when he wrote, "Iowa fans. The eye in the sky don't lie."
Dakich was adamant in his belief that Woodbury be suspended during the telecast, calling it "complete garbage." He added later, "That's as cowardly as you can be — to hit a guy from behind or poke a guy in the face."
Dakich reached out to McCaffery on Wednesday, inviting the Iowa coach to appear on Dakich's Indianapolis, Ind., radio show. According to Dakich, McCaffery "respectfully declined."
I like the fact that Dakich is never afraid to share his opinion, even if I don't always agree with it. With so many talking heads saying nothing over the airwaves these days, a little bite is good once in awhile.
McCaffery has also shown a knack for being brutally honest about his team, without throwing anyone under the bus. The fact that he defended Woodbury comes as no surprise to anyone who has covered him the past five seasons.
Interestingly enough, Woodbury played one of his best games against Ohio State last Saturday with Dakich on the call, accounting for 13 points and 10 rebounds. Afterward, McCaffery voiced his displeasure over the criticism Woodbury has received during his career. Three days later, Dakich had many Hawkeye fans flocking to Woodbury's defense.
The Hawkeye center had 13 points and 10 rebounds against Ohio State.
The Iowa coach takes exception with those who talk negatively of his junior center, who scored 13 points and added 10 rebounds in Saturday's 76-67 win over Ohio State.
Iowa will play Wisconsin just once next season. I sure hope that game is played in Iowa City. Two seasons ago, McCaffery was suspended for a game after getting tossed from Wisconsin's 75-71 victory at the Kohl Center. Now this.
All the bantering back and forth did accomplish one thing. It somehow made Iowa's disappointing 32-point loss a secondary story.
Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.