09-13-2006, 06:23 AM
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Ferentz, Tate spill the beans, or did they?
Former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry had a gift for gab that often benefited the media.
Fry loved to tell jokes and tease the reporters who covered his team on a regular basis.
But everything changed when it came to his players' injuries. Fry preferred to cover them up in order to leave the opponents guessing.
He'd get perturbed if you pressed him too much about injuries.
That's why Tuesday's press conference was as bizarre as it was refreshing.
After nearly a month of insisting he was healthy, Iowa quarterback Drew Tate finally spilled the beans. He gave a detailed account about the abdominal strain on his left side that caused him to miss last Saturday's double-overtime victory at Syracuse.
Tate said he wanted to play against Syracuse, but it wasn't his decision to make, nor will it be his decision to make with regard to playing Saturday against Iowa State.
Tate has been given medical clearance, but he still needs to be cleared by Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz. A final decision will come after Ferentz has a chance to watch Tate throw in practice this week.
"I'm optimistic he'll look good," Ferentz said. "Our intentions are that he will play."
Ferentz reminded reporters about 50 times Tuesday that he isn't a doctor. But Ferentz isn't a fool, either.
He would love to avenge last year's loss to Iowa State, but not at the expense of his star quarterback. The big picture has to take priority over one game, no matter how important the game might be.
Tate said the injury first occurred August 18, which was a day before Iowa held an open practice. He was prohibited from throwing in the open practice because he supposedly had a tired arm, according to Ferentz.
Perhaps that was Ferentz doing his own version of Fry by pulling a fast one on the media. After all, Ferentz spent nine years as an assistant coach under Fry at Iowa.
You don't spend nearly a decade working under somebody without picking up a few idiosyncrasies.
But who's to say Tate didn't hurt himself while throwing hay bales at Solon Beef Days in mid-July?
What I can't figure out is why Tate played against Montana in the season opener? That is supposedly when he re-injured himself.
Nothing against the Grizzlies, but if Iowa can defeat Syracuse on the road in a game where backup quarterback Jason Manson throws four interceptions, the Hawkeyes certainly could have defeated Division IAA Montana behind Manson.
Tate wants so desperately to play against Iowa State because he is a competitor, but also because of what happened last fall in Ames. He left the game early in the second quarter after sustaining a concussion and after playing poorly.
"Last year, they beat us in every possible way you can beat a football team," Tate said of Iowa State's 23-3 victory last season.
The tricky thing is weighing the importance of one game against the rest of the schedule. Playing Iowa State for the final time would be an event, but is it worth jeopardizing Tate's college career?
"I want to be smart about it, too," Tate said of the injury. "I think we've got a great chance of winning the Big Ten this year."
Saying they have a great chance of winning the Big Ten might be too optimistic after the spanking top-ranked Ohio State put on Texas last Saturday. However, Iowa would have virtually no chance of competing for the conference title without Tate.
The Syracuse game showed just how vulnerable the Iowa offense is without him.
Manson did enough to help Iowa beat Syracuse, but there are reasons why he is playing behind Tate for a third consecutive season.
In fairness to Manson, though, he has been put in some difficult situations. He learned just hours before the Syracuse game that Tate wouldn't play, and he replaced Tate in last year's Iowa State game after the Cyclones had started to move in for the kill.
"Jason seems to be a tough-situation magnet," Ferentz said. "He had a tough indoctrination last year, and last week was no walk in the park, either."
Tate's injury is such that it could get worse if not treated properly. And while you could say that about any injury, the concern with Tate's injury is that it could go from being a strain to a tear.
An abdominal tear could jeopardize his entire senior season.
You don't realize how important the abdominal muscles are until they start hurting. They help to stabilize the torso and upper body.
Even the slightest movement can cause pain and suffering.
Most people probably go through their entire lives without straining an abdominal muscle. Heck, before Tate's situation, I forget I even had muscles in my stomach because they're buried under middle-aged flab.
You knew coming into the season that Tate's health would be paramount to Iowa's success this fall.
You worried about his knees and his ankles and his shoulder and his head, but you probably didn't even consider an abdominal strain.
Tate now has a target on the left side of his stomach and the Iowa State players are ready to take aim.
But on the other hand, who is to say the injury isn't on Tate's right side?
Remember, Ferentz did work for the master of deception when it comes to injuries.
Oderint dum metuant.