Believe it or not, there’s a college football connection outside of the University of Florida to the Aaron Hernandez situation.
Hernandez, of course, was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. After leaving the Gators early for the 2010 NFL draft, the Mackey Award-winning tight end was selected by the New England Patriots. His position coach for the 2011 season with the Patriots was Brian Ferentz.
The son of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the younger Ferentz now serves as the Hawkeyes’ offensive line coach. The Iowa-Hernandez connection doesn’t stop there as D.J. Hernandez, the convicted murderer’s older brother, is an offensive grad assistant who’s worked with Iowa’s tight ends the past two seasons.
If you recall, the elder Hernandez was involved in a scuffle back in July of 2013 when some individuals mistook him for his brother.
As fate would have it, Ferentz was scheduled to meet with the media on the same day the Hernandez verdict was announced . Not so surprisingly, Ferentz fielded questions regarding the development.
Just as unsurprisingly, the assistant attempted to steer as far away from the conversation as possible.
Here’s the transcription of the exchange, as provided by UI’s sports information department:
Q. You coached Aaron Hernandez and you coached alongside his brother here. First of all, how difficult what happened today is it for you personally, and then also to be there to try to support DJ?
BRIAN FERENTZ: These things are unfortunate, and really I don’t think it benefits Iowa football or myself to comment on the situation other than it’s tragic. It’s certainly much more tragic for the victims involved, but these types of things, they affect everyone. I feel bad for DJ and for his family, but I feel worse for the victims in this case. Things like this, again, I think the reason you don’t comment is what can you really say. I don’t know what I could say that would make any sense to me or to anyone in here and wouldn’t be picked apart.”
Ferentz isn’t the only one at the collegiate level looking to distance himself from Hernandez.
Even prior to the verdict, and shortly after Hernandez’s arrest in 2013, Florida removed nearly all mentions of Hernandez from their facilities. He still, though, remains in the school’s record book for receptions by tight ends.
Hernandez was connected to a 2007 shooting in Gainesville when he was just 17 and a freshman at UF, but police later said Hernandez was not a suspect and he declined to speak to police on the right to have counsel present.
Urban Meyer, Hernandez’s coach, was widely criticized by many following his former player’s arrest, with critics labeling the current Ohio State head coach as an enabler. After initially distancing himself from the situation, Meyer finally took his shots at what he called “irresponsible” criticism.
“He was an athlete at Florida 4-to-7 years ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct,” Meyer said in July of 2013. “Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him. Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim. Relating or blaming these serious charges to Univ. of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.”