Brandon Smith Purdue Profile

Some good Hawkeye news, shared in 10 sentences:

1. Deep wounds don’t heal with a snap of the fingers, but what a change in temperature we experienced Thursday when Kirk Ferentz and three of his Iowa football players — Djimon Colbert, Tyler Linderbaum, and Brandon Smith — shared their feelings on the emotional and cultural state of the program.

2. A couple of months ago we, the fans, learned the program harbored elements of both blatant and subtle racism: current and former players bravely shared stories of targeted comments and behavior, macro and micro aggressions, and allegations of bullying.

3. The players willed long-overdue changes: Strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle is no longer with the team, Ferentz now says he would support his players if they took a knee during the national anthem—as long as they did it as a team—and a committee has been formed to help guide the culture of the program in new, positive directions.

4. Additionally, football players finally received permission to tweet, which might not seem like a big deal to some, but Twitter has become a crucial form of self-expression, and in case one has not noticed, we are living through interesting times; college is a time when many people discover who they are and find their voice, begin to understand what they value, and to deny someone in that 18-22 range the ability take part in vital discussions isn’t just overbearing, it’s cruel and inhumane.

5. The Iowa Hawkeye football program remains in the infant stages of its reinvention—its awakening—and it is going to take years to reposition itself where it needs to be racially, culturally, and structurally.

6. Still, if Thursday was any indication of where things might be headed, those associated with the program—current and former players, coaches, or administrators—demonstrated to the rest of us just how far a little dignity and willingness to speak up, listen, and change can advance important conversations.

7. Colbert’s words Thursday broke open our imagination to help us understand not just what might be possible to achieve, but also about how bad things were inside the football program: “In the weight room, in the locker room, guys being able to open up and not feel uncomfortable talking to guys that don’t look the same as you—it’s been really influential. A lot of guys said it felt like you had to walk on eggshells (before last month). It’s not like that at all anymore.”

8. Before one can be a positive example for others, one must take care of their own house, and that it what the Hawkeyes are starting to do thanks to the current and former players who used their voices in one of the most powerful ways imaginable: collectively, directly, forcefully, and with noble purpose.

9. Because of the players, the UI took actionable steps, and that is something that should make us hopeful, proud.

10. The power holders who control the Iowa football team still have a long way to go in this marathon—they’re presently near the 3-mile marker—but a willingness to loosen their grip and listen—genuinely listen—is so much more than what some other programs have done, and it sends up a signal that maybe, someday, Iowa football will be known as a team that treats everyone with basic respect and dignity.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.