Brown: Hey, Dan Dakich, leave them kids alone

Rick Brown

Dan Dakich's eyes were glued to the television in Wisconsin's Kohl Center media room a week ago.

His son, Andrew, a walk-on for Michigan's basketball team, was on the floor against Rutgers. Dakich, about to work the Iowa-Wisconsin game as a color analyst for ESPN, was a proud pop. Just like Lance Woodbury is proud when his son, Adam, takes the floor for Iowa.

Dakich threw himself — and Adam Woodbury — into the eye of a storm when he called out the Hawkeyes' junior center for multiple eye-poking incidents during the Jan. 20 game. Dakich thought Woodbury's actions were intentional, something Woodbury denied a day later.

This is a story that will continue to linger through the weekend, because Dakich has been assigned by ESPN to work Saturday's Iowa-Wisconsin rematch at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

But the did he/didn't he debate misses the real point here. Dakich accused Woodbury on the air of being gutless and a coward. And that, to me, crosses the line of fairness. Dakich is entitled to his opinion — that is what he's paid to offer — but leave the personal attacks at home.

You can criticize Woodbury for his shot selection, a bad box-out or a silly foul, sure. But calling him gutless and a coward? Too strong. I wonder what Dakich would think if he heard an announcer call his son's actions on the floor cowardly or gutless.

Coaches or pro athletes are fair game. They collect a paycheck. But I've always believed that high school and college athletes shouldn't be called out individually. An exception would be if Woodbury said to me after a game, "I played with no guts," or "I played like a coward," Then I'd probably quote him as such.

Personally, I like Dakich's work. I admire his ability to analyze a game that he played and coached at a high level. But in Woodbury's case, he went too far.

"This isn't Kobe Bryant," Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. "He makes $180 million. Want to tee off on him, go ahead. These are amateur athletes. And (Dakich) has no right to attack that kid that way. No right at all."

Woodbury has been in the eye of the storm before, which comes with the territory when you compete on a public stage. But you want a real definition of cowardly and gutless? Look at the nameless message-board critics who mock and rip athletes with no threat of accountability.

Woodbury jokes and laughs about his critics, shucks it off and moves on. I admire him a great deal for that. Because deep down, it's got to hurt.

Last year, when former Hawkeye Zach McCabe got in a Twitter war with fans that led to McCaffery banning his players from that outlet, the coach got on his computer. He read some of the personal attacks aimed at his players. One word came to mind: disgraceful.

I hope Iowa fans show some class and decorum on Saturday with Dakich in the house. When he worked the Iowa-Ohio State game two weekends ago, an Iowa State Patrol supervisor joked on Facebook that he wished "there was a sniper at Carver-Hawkeye (Arena) to shoot the color commentator in the head...cause he is driving me nuts."

Dakich does drive some people nuts because he calls them like he seems them. He's entitled to his opinion. But to borrow a lyric from Pink Floyd, "Leave them kids alone."

Hawkeye columnist Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year. Follow him on Twitter: @ByRickBrown.