IOWA CITY — Micah Hyde didn’t hide on Tuesday. Hyde attended the weekly meeting of reporters and Iowa football players. It sounds like skipping it wasn’t an option offered to him by his coach, but he showed up and answered questions as best as he felt he could all the same.
It clearly wasn’t the least bit enjoyable for him to discuss his arrest in Iowa City last weekend for public intoxication and interference of official acts. He pleaded not guilty to the first charge, guilty to the second. According to a police complaint, the senior cornerback was among a group of people arguing with staff and refusing to leave an Iowa City bar early Saturday morning. Hyde allegedly ran when officers asked him to stop, and was apprehended two blocks later and taken into custody.
All of which would have been just one more typical incident on a typical weekend night in downtown Iowa City had it not involved a prominent football player with an otherwise-spotless citizenship record.
“They have to suspend him for a game,” was a comment I heard from several people on Saturday and Sunday, but Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz is doing no such thing.
I admit to wondering aloud in my office Monday if Hyde would have been suspended for a game had the incident occurred in the summer and Iowa’s first opponent was an Eastern Illinois. I asked Ferentz about that kind of reaction.
“To me, chances to win, winning, don’t factor into discipline issues,” he insisted. “And I’d go back to August 2002 to cite an example. (Starting cornerback and NFL player-to-be Benny Sapp was dismissed from the Hawkeyes for a public intoxication charge and a combination of other incidents from Sapp’s time on the team)
“We made a decision there. Part of my job is to make decisions. I made a decision without an answer on how we were going to address it competitively.
“But you can’t intermix it, that’s always been my feeling about that. And I think any decision that I make as far as our program in general has to be over a 5-year span, with a 5-year span in mind as opposed to a 5-day or 5-week thing.”
That seems reasonable enough. The best judging comes from taking a lot of factors into consideration. I say that understanding why some would argue a senior captain has to be used as an example when he gets into a legal scrape.
The law is the law, and a member of the team’s leadership counsel should probably be held to a high standard. Why have a leadership counsel, otherwise?
But after a review of Gazette archives, and plenty of past examples in them for illustration, Ferentz’s claim of being consistent in disciplining first-strike offenders who had simple misdemeanors is supported.
Momentarily put aside whether you think all state-university student-athletes should serve some kind of suspension following any simple misdemeanor, and I think you have to conclude Hyde isn’t getting special treatment because of his value on the paying field. Two of his teammates had alcohol-related arrests over the weekend. They weren’t suspended, either.
But it isn’t as if Hyde hasn’t already brought punishment onto himself. He spent several hours in jail. He has gotten far more attention for his arrest than for anything he has done on a football field this fall.
He is at least temporarily stripped of his captaincy. And he had to answer to teammates who look to him for leadership. If you think those are small things, fine. But to him, they certainly are not. And he can still lead, by showing how to respond to a personal failure.
“Definitely, I apologize to my family, of course, coaches, my teammates,” Hyde said. “Because I’m sure they had to hear a lot from my decision. “Since I’ve been here I’ve tried to lead my team, obviously, in the right direction.
“This year, being my senior year, I definitely wanted to have the captain name under my belt. “It’s my life, and I’ve got to learn from it.”
Smart people are always capable of doing dumb things. Smart people don’t repeat them. If there is a safe bet in college football, it’s that Hyde won’t repeat his mistake.