Kirk Ferentz: Iowa football fans booing several Penn State injuries 'thought they smelled a rat'

Dargan Southard
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY — Kirk Ferentz backed the Iowa fans who booed during several instances Saturday when Penn State players were visited by trainers on the field. 

The fans made it clear that they believed several players were faking injuries to disrupt Iowa during the Hawkeyes' 23-20 victory over then-No. 4 Penn State. Ferentz on Tuesday said he understood that frustration among Iowa fans. 

"Our fans thought they smelled a rat, I guess. I don’t know," Ferentz said. "They responded the way they responded."

Ferentz added that he felt some injuries were legitimate, most notably Sean Clifford's. The Penn State quarterback never returned after a hard hit from Jack Campbell in the second quarter. 

Other apparent Penn State injuries? Ferentz was skeptical of a few. Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker and defensive end Arlong Ebiketie both went down on different Iowapossessions, only to return on those same drives. Defensive tackle Dvon Ellies returned in the second half after going down mid-second quarter.      

"Football is a hard, tough, competitive game," Ferentz said. "Fans are into it just like everyone is into it. First off, I know a couple players were legitimately hurt. I know that. Saw one sitting on the bench. There was an opening (across the field) and I saw him. I know he had an ice bag on his leg. Obviously the quarterback didn’t come back, so I hope those guys are well. I don’t know what their status is. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt.  

"I think (the booing) is probably a reaction. There were a couple guys who were down for the count and then were back a play or two later. Our fans aren’t stupid. They’re watching. They know what’s going on. I’ve been here 23 years — I think that’s only the second time we’ve seen that kind of stuff going on. I know it’s a topic nationally right now. Nobody quite knows the answer to it." 

Iowa assistant defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Seth Wallace, left, and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz react during a NCAA Big Ten Conference football game against Penn State, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa beat Penn State, 23-20.

Here is what Penn State head coach James Franklin had to say about the injuries and boos at Kinnick Stadium after the game:

"I do have a little bit of a hard time with our players getting hurt and the (Iowa) fans and the coaches and the staff booing our players," Franklin said. "To all of the Iowa people out there, it was not part of our plan. It would not be. You don't run a tempo offense. We had some guys get injured, and I just don't know if I necessarily agree. I don't think that's the right thing for college football, booing guys when they get hurt, however it looks."

Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.