ESPN's Michael Wilbon calls Fran McCaffery a bully

Chad Leistikow
ESPN TV personality Michael Wilbon is shown. Wilbon was a longtime columnist at The Washington Post and attended Northwestern.

Fair or not, unwanted national attention continued to pummel Iowa basketball coach Fran McCaffery on Monday.

McCaffery came under fire for the way he reacted to a question about Adam Woodbury poking Maryland's Melo Trimble in the eye during Sunday's 71-55 Iowa win at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon said during a segment on Pardon The Interruption that the Big Ten Conference should react to Woodbury's eye-poking incidents and called McCaffery a bully.

"He behaves too often like a bully. I pay attention to that conference," said Wilbon, a Northwestern alum. "A bully and a jerk."

Woodbury has drawn negative attention for eye pokes in recent weeks. He caught Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes in the eye in separate incidents during Iowa's 82-50 loss Jan. 20 in Madison, Wis.

Wilbon's PTI cohort, Tony Kornheiser, contested, "This looks like something this young man practices."

Wilbon went on to explain an outlandish solution during the two-minute segment: To put a linebacker in a basketball uniform. "You know what, Tony?" he said. "He would go down, and he would go down hard."

Of course, what was glossed over by both talking heads was that the players involved Sunday called it an accident, as did Maryland coach Mark Turgeon.

As for the way McCaffery dealt with the media afterward, he drew the most criticism for telling WHO-TV's Michael Admire to "ask an intelligent question" after Admire asked why Woodbury continues to keep eye-poking opponents. McCaffery also dismissed questions from Iowa radio voice Gary Dolphin and Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist Mike Hlas.

McCaffery did elaborate on the Woodbury issue Sunday night on ESPN News and during Monday morning's Big Ten coaches' teleconference.

Wilbon and Kornheiser were far from alone in their national criticism. Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said on Twitter that McCaffery should be suspended for three games -- two "for harboring a serial eye-poker."

"I don't treat the media with disrespect," McCaffery told Des Moines Register columnist Rick Brown on Monday. "My brother (Jack) is a member of the media. But when you keep asking me to comment on something (officiating) that you know I can't comment on, I'm going to react that way. The reality is, you've got to know what you're asking me. I'll give you an honest answer."

The Big Ten Conference on Monday said it re-examines every call as part of its officiating review process and would make an announcement if there was a sportsmanship violation.