It didn’t take long into Penn State’s trip to Iowa City this past weekend for a shower of boos to rain down upon the Nittany Lions.
Iowa fans claim they were booing “fake injuries” executed by the blue and white’s coaching staff to slow the pace of the Hawkeye offense — an offense that accounted for a total of 49 yards in the first quarter of play.
Whether you believe Penn State was faking injuries or not, the opinion of fans shouldn’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things.
This is a fanbase that booed Penn State kicker Jordan Stout after the wind blew the football off the tee prior to the game’s opening kickoff.
What does matter is the opinion of a 23-year head coach of one of the most distinguished programs in college football.
Following Iowa’s victory, Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz took the podium to address his thoughts on the “fake injury” fiasco.
“I think probably [the booing] is a reaction to, there were a couple of guys that were down for the count and then were back a play or two later,” Ferentz said. “Our fans aren't stupid. They're watching, they know what's going on.”
According to Ferentz, Iowa fans “thought they smelled a rat,” leading them to respond the way they did.
I’m sorry… what?
After 23 years as the face of the Iowa Hawkeyes, you would think Ferentz would learn some professionalism at this point.
Following Ferentz’s comments, it now makes sense why Iowa’s assistant coaches even got in on the mockery. One coach went as far as to fall on the ground and act out an injury as Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie sat with medical examiners after a Hawkeye first-down rush.
We know Penn State had some legitimate injuries in this game, but this 54 seconds of video was especially entertaining.I believe this player walked off the field shortly after this clip ends... Let's just say the Iowa coaching staff wasn't buying this one. pic.twitter.com/YC6RPQaIi8— Mark Freund (@MarkFreundTV) October 10, 2021
To fans, football is a game. To coaches, who are getting paid millions of dollars, football is business.
The only problem with the business aspect of football is that the players aren’t a part of it.
Football is a sport that has left some with long-term brain damage or even paralysis. College players put themselves at risk for these types of injuries every single time they take the field.
If a player wants to convene with the training staff following a stinger, let them.
The game of football is so fast — it can sometimes be hard to tell if what you’re feeling is just discomfort or a serious injury.
For Penn State, a number of these injury delays were called for the handling of some serious injuries.
Starting defensive tackle PJ Mustipher came out of the game during the Hawkeyes’ first possession, returning to the sideline on crutches.
The next quarter, quarterback Sean Clifford headed to the locker room, unable to return to the playing field.
Defensive back Jonathan Sutherland followed in Clifford’s footsteps minutes later.
As the ultimate team leaders and teachers, coaches should understand this more than anybody — especially since there’s likely a good majority who played the sport at some point.
There’s a reason fans are in the stands and coaches are on the field, and nothing should come between that.
Fans can boo all they want, coaches cannot.
Ferentz’s comments on Tuesday were no better than boos. In fact, his comments are even worse, considering his part as a role model and overall the face of the Iowa program.
Obviously, there’s a ton of emotion involved in a matchup between the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the country, but that doesn’t excuse a lack of respect.
Football is great because of the players who make it great.
If you’re a fan or coach who wants to boo an injured player, why don’t you strap on a helmet and pads and see what this sport does to your body?
I can only imagine how long Ferentz would last.