Cyrus Kouandjio comments on the Rhabdo incidentIn an interview with Sporting News, Cyrus Kouandjio said that he was high on Iowa before the rhabdo cases which changed his mind. Here's the actual quote:
Q: If you would have had to sign in early fall, who would you have gone with then?
A: At first I really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa. I even told my best friend that I was going to Iowa. But when everything went down with them with the workouts and all, that was different. I had a bad vibe when I went there. Alabama may be far from home, but Iowa—living-style wise—it’s just out there and just not me. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment. I love their coaches and I love their team, but it was really just out for me.
The most interesting part of the comment to me, is that he "really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa" and he loves the coaches and the team. Of course the part of the comment that is getting all the attention is that he got a bad vibe after the rhabdo cases.
Kouandjio visited Iowa the weekend between the 100-squat workout and the day the players were actually hospitalized. I'm not sure if he would have met with any players that were having a rough time recovering from the 100-squat work out. I don't know if they would have given off a bad vibe.
What is also kind of strange about his comments though is that immediately following his visit to Iowa, he said that Iowa City "felt like home." Having a bad vibe after visiting and saying it felt like home are very different. So it seems like something else is going on here, though it's hard to say. The popular speculation is that Iowa was just too cold for him and he wanted to live some place warm. But I think his flip-flopping with Auburn and Alabama speaks to how hard the decision was for Kouandjio. If he was looking for an excuse to take Iowa off his board, then the rhabdo thing provide a pretty good one. Still, I don't believe it was his main reason for not choosing Iowa...maybe just a feather that broke the camel's back type of deal.
Iowa is apparently full of thugs and hooligans (if you ask SI)SI and CBS published a doozy of an article yesterday. The basic thesis was that college football programs have a win-at-all-cost mentality and choose to not look into or ignore player's criminal pasts. They did a lengthy study on the SI pre-season top 25 teams and check for criminal records on all players on the roster. There were plenty of problems with the study and the conclusion, nicely picked apart by BHGP's Patrick Vint on Slow States. Basically, SI/CBS had their conclusion before their facts and when the facts weren't overwhelming supportive of their thesis they threw in a bunch of anecdotal evidence.
Anyway, how this is all relevant to the Iowa Football program is that the Hawkeyes came in at #2 on SI's list of teams in the top 25 with the most players with criminal records. Iowa had 18 players that had been charged with an offense. Only Pittsburgh had more with 22.
The University got in front of this story, and did so in a very good way. They laid out the details to the 18 charges and admitted that they have a problem with underage drinking and binge drinking. They also had statements from both Gary Barta and Kirk Ferentz. It was nice work by the Sport Information department that has had its share of recent failures (even Dennis Dodd, who has been Iowa biggest critic lately, was impressed by Iowa's response to the SI story).
Iowa outlined the 18 charges:
- 15 were alcohol related (PAULAs, OWIs, etc...)
- 2 for possession of a controlled substance
- 1 for misdemeanor assault that was ultimately a lessened to disorderly conduct
You could probably plant any FBS school's roster (well, not BYU's) in Iowa City and you will have 15 alcohol-related arrests. That is just Iowa City. College students drink, do stupid stuff, and Iowa City cops arrest them. Yes it's a problem, but not one that could be solved by background checks on recruits.
Still, Barta is open to the idea of background checks:
Recruiting quality student-athletes in all sports is of the utmost importance to me and our coaches. I am anxious to continue discussions with my peers in the state and in the Big Ten Conference and beyond on whether criminal background checks need to become a regular piece of our recruiting process.
I don't believe that Iowa or any other program really needs to go to the length of a full background check. If an face-to-face meeting and talking to a player's coach isn't enough to judge a recruit's character, just Google the kid and check his Facebook/Twitter and you can probably get a pretty good idea of what's going on. If something does show up that is a little concerning, still I think most of the time people deserve a second chance especially for a poor decision made while still so young.