Tristan Wirfs suspended for season-opener against Northern Illinois

Head coach Kirk Ferentz on July 31 announced Tristan Wirfs’ punishment following an OWI charge on July 29.


Joseph Cress

Iowa offensive linemen Tristian Wirfs warms up during a summer camp practice at the outdoor practice facility on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Two days after Hawkeye football offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs was charged with OWI, head coach Kirk Ferentz announced his punishment ​— Wirfs will be suspended for Iowa’s season-opening game against Northern Illinois on Sept. 1.

“It is always disappointing when student-athletes make decisions that are against the law and/or inconsistent with the University of Iowa’s Code of Conduct or team policies,” Ferentz said in a release on July 31. ““Within one week, two of our players were arrested on alcohol-related charges. As a veteran football coach and parent, I understand firsthand the personal pain and public humiliation that comes with making such decisions. While these players are college students first, they are held to a much higher standard because of the privilege and responsibility that comes with being a member of the Iowa football program.”

As Ferentz noted, Wirfs isn’t the first Hawkeye to be arrested on alcohol-related charges this offseason, or even this month. Brady Reiff also received a one-game suspension after getting a public-intoxication charge on July 21. Both players will be absent when the Hawkeyes and Huskies clash in September.

Wirfs had a 0.129 blood-alcohol level when he was pulled over on Riverside Drive in Iowa City at 1:43 a.m. on the morning of July 29.

“Any player in violation of team rules or the university Code of Conduct is subjected to a variety of penalties,” Ferentz said in the release. “My philosophy and practice are consistent, and that is to hold players accountable — no matter their position on the depth chart. However, I hold senior members of the team to a higher standard because they know and understand the expectations.

“These situations can be defining moments for all students. It is my responsibility to hold our players accountable and help them learn and succeed. My goal is to develop a winning culture that translates into championship seasons and players who are successful in life.”

Wirfs took to Instagram on July 30 to post two motivational images to his story, essentially saying how he’d bounce back from his mistake on July 29.

“I’ll be back and better than before,” he wrote in his second post.

Wirfs made a name for himself last season when he became the first true-freshman tackle to start under Kirk Ferentz. The preseason depth chart released on July 23 had him as the starting right tackle. He started eight games last season.

Looking ahead at who will start in Wirfs’ place, Dalton Ferguson, a senior from Solon, sits at the No. 2 spot at right tackle and could be the player Ferentz and Company elect to start on Sept. 1. Whoever gets selected will have a tough season-opening opponent, because Northern Illinois boasts one of the country’s better defensive linemen in Sutton Smith. Smith had 14 sacks last season and 30 tackles for a loss. He deflected 3 passes, forced and recovered 3 fumbles, and scored 2 touchdowns in 2017.

Iowa and Northern Illinois are slated to kick things off — without Wirfs and Reiff — at 2:30 p.m. at Kinnick on Sept. 1.

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