IOWA CITY, Ia. — The concept of “New Kirk” continued to gain steam Tuesday, with Iowa 17th-year football coach Kirk Ferentz saying he would re-evaluate his strict no-Twitter policy following the 2015 season.
“In the out-of-season, I’ll think about that again one more time,” said Ferentz, who was asked about the topic in light of recent social-media sniping within the Texas program. “Because it’s like our own kids at home: At some point, they’re going to be out after midnight. At some point, they’re going to drive cars. At some point, they’re going to do all those things that you worry about.”
What’s next, Ferentz getting his own Twitter account?
Probably not. The status quo will continue for 2015, and that’s just fine with Ferentz and his players, who are off to a 5-0 start while a storied program down south tries to crawl out of an episode of social-media darkness.
“I heard about that,” fifth-year senior center Austin Blythe said. “I’m not sure exactly what happened. But it definitely gives validation to coach Ferentz’s rule and policy.”
Tumult in Texas football began Saturday when a Longhorns freshman, during halftime of their loss to TCU, retweeted a fan’s request that he should transfer to Texas A&M. He later apologized. In-fighting followed, with one junior criticizing the work ethic of the team’s freshmen.
That’s the type of hornet’s nest Ferentz’s no-tweeting policy tries to avoid.
“I’ve just read so many of those things where a guy tweets something or puts it out there in public, and four hours later they issue this nice, long elaborate apology that somebody else wrote for him,” Ferentz said. “And it’s usually pretty disingenuous. I hate to see one of our guys be in that situation.”
To be clear, Iowa players can post on Facebook and Instagram. But no tweeting.
“If you really have a love for the game,” junior cornerback Greg Mabin said, “you’re willing to make certain sacrifices, and that’s one of them.”
The Iowa junior cornerback jokes about how the head coach still chews gum and hasn't changed despite a new perception.
Fifth-year senior lineman Jordan Walsh remembered his freshman orientation into the program, when director of player development Chic Ejiasi would scroll through players’ Facebook pages and point out questionable posts or photos. The message is to be responsible.
Iowa’s assistant coaches are allowed to tweet, and they sometimes do liberally as a recruiting and branding tool.
“It’s for our own good,” Mabin said. “We’re a lot of young guys, just experiencing life — being away from parents. You might have one guy saying something he shouldn’t have said in public. So it just helps us to maintain the image of Iowa football and the tradition that we have here.”
Quarterback C.J. Beathard in May took to Instagram to reveal he had cut his hair for charity. Senior Drew Ott used his Instagram account (with 11 total posts) after the Iowa State win to post a gruesome photo of the moment he suffered a dislocated elbow.
The senior defensive end, like all Iowa football players, is not allowed to use Twitter.
Saying social media "just gets you in trouble," Ott joked about his Facebook frequency.
“I have like 200 requests waiting,” he said. “Sorry, friends, I haven’t got to you yet.”
Walsh said there isn’t a clamoring for a different policy, although he’s not in the younger generation — like incoming and potential recruits — who have grown up with social media.
“I would most likely be (Facebook) friends with all my teammates and high school guys,” Walsh said. “I have all their numbers (anyway), so if they want to contact me they can text me or Snapchat me.”