Iowa coach defends fans booing Penn State injuries: “They smelled a rat”

The Sports Extra Podcast

(WHTM) — Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz defended the Hawkeyes fans on Tuesday for booing Penn State players who were injured in Saturday’s game.

The longest tenured college football coach insinuated that Penn State players were faking injuries and said that the Iowa fans “aren’t stupid” and knew what is going on. In a one minute answer on the topic, he also said the fans “smelled a rat” and “responded the way they responded.”

“I’ve been here 23 years, I think that’s only the second time we’ve seen that kind of stuff going on,” Ferentz said.

In multiple instances throughout the 23-20 PSU loss, players suffered injuries that sidelined those players for the remainder of the game including QB Sean Clifford and DT PJ Mustipher. The crowd was shown booing Penn State players, and one coach was even recorded mocking a player for what Iowa believed was flopping.

Penn State response after Iowa game

After the game, Penn State head coach James Franklin responded to the fans booing the PSU players.

“I do have a little bit of a hard time with our players getting hurt and the fans in the stands and the coaches and the staff booing our players,” Franklin said. “They don’t run a tempo offense, it was not part of our plan.”

Franklin highlights that the team obviously did not want Sean Clifford, PJ Mustipher, John Lovett and Jonathan Sutherland to be injured (three of which are captains, all play significant time).

“I don’t think that’s the right thing for college football booing guys when they get hurt, however it looks,” Franklin said. “If one of those kids would have been significantly hurt, I got a hard time with that. I got my own issues to deal with.”

Ferentz full statement from Tuesday

“Football is a hard, tough competitive game and fans are into it, just like everybody else is into it. First of all, I know a couple players were legitimately hurt; I know that. I saw one sitting on the bench just having an opening and I saw him. I know he had an ice bag on his leg. Obviously their 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, nobody. But I think probably it’s a reaction to a couple guys that were down for the count and then were back a play or two later.

“I mean our fans aren’t stupid, they’re watching. They know what is 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 knows the answers to it.

“I also know for a fact that people – there are two people in our building – that have been places where [faking injuries is a thing]. Scuba or dive and turtle were the code words for it, so it goes on.

“We don’t coach it, haven’t really been exposed to it, but our fans thought they smelled a rat, I guess. I don’t know. They responded the way they responded.”

Breakdown the booing

However Ferentz wants to defend his fans, booing injuries is never a good look. Especially when you consider these are college athletes whose football future depends on their health and ability to play in the National Football League.

Ferentz pointed out that dealing with fake injuries has become a point of emphasis in the Big Ten Conference. In which case, one may assume the Big Ten officials who called the game would have said something to the Penn State coaching staff if the referees believed PSU players were faking injuries.

Then there’s the argument that Penn State was trying to slow down the Iowa offense that only managed to put up points on four field goals for the first 53:34 of the game. (Reminder from Franklin: Iowa doesn’t run a tempo offense).

According to ESPN’s Bill Connelly, Iowa had a 33% success rate for the game which ranked 11th-lowest of any team on Saturday. Which begs the question, did Iowa really need help slowing down?

Ferentz comments about two people in the Iowa staff that have been places where players are told to fake injuries also seemed like a shot at Penn State.

Current Iowa Director of Recruiting Tyler Barnes worked in the Vanderbilt coaching staff in 2013, Franklin’s last year as head coach before taking the Penn State job.

So is Ferentz insinuating that Franklin coaches his starting quarterback to fake an injury that sidelines Clifford for the rest of the game? While backup QB Ta’Quan Roberson struggled to find consistency? In a 23-20 loss to a Top-5 opponent? In conference?

Honestly, what sense would it make for Penn State (who dominated most of the game) to fake injuries that pulled their players out of critical moments?

Ahh yes, that’s exactly what Penn State wanted as the Nittany Lions suffered their first loss of the season.

Bulletin board material

As Iowa is ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 Poll and remains undefeated this season, it’s almost a foregone conclusion the Hawkeyes will represent the pitiful Big Ten West in the conference championship this December.

Should Penn State be able to contend for the Big Ten East spot in the championship, this is more fuel to the fire.

The Nittany Lions will have the far tougher road to the championship, the bulletin board material of the Iowa coach calling the PSU players injury fakers and (hopefully) the only loss of the season coming to the Hawkeyes.

Just like faking injuries ain’t it; neither is fueling your future championship opponents to hate you more.

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