Shaun Beyer made a mistake against Wisconsin, but the backlash has been unfair and cruel

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Shaun Beyer tries to withstand the block from Northern Iowa's Nick Phillips on a kickoff. Photo by Jeff Yoder

By Pat Harty

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Shaun Beyer made a mistake that proved costly for the Iowa football team in last Saturday’s 28-17 loss to Wisconsin at Kinnick Stadium.

You probably don’t have to be reminded about what he did because some people can’t stop complaining and venting about it on social media.

Beyer, a sophomore reserve tight end from Cedar Rapids, was blocking on a punt return in the third quarter, but he lost track of the football as it bounced on the ground and it scraped up against the back of his foot, making it a live ball that Wisconsin recovered at the Iowa 10-yard line.

That was one of three turnovers for Iowa in the game, while the Badgers had none.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was noticeably upset after the game, because for somebody who rarely shows his anger to the press, Ferentz fired back with a short four-word answer when asked what his players are instructed to do when the ball is bouncing on the surface on a punt return.

“Get the hell away,” Ferentz said.

What’s uncertain is whether Ferentz was more angry at Beyer or returner Kyle Groeneweg or somebody else on the punt return team or just the situation as a whole.

Beyer, obviously, made the mistake of letting the football hit him, but maybe it was Groeneweg’s responsibility as the returner to instruct Beyer to get away from the football.

Or maybe it was just so loud near the renovated north end zone that Beyer couldn’t hear Groeneweg telling him to get away.

Or maybe the Wisconsin players that sort of pushed or blocked Beyer into the football deserve some credit, too, because it sure seems that they helped to manipulate the situation.

“With Shaun, it comes down to communication,” said Iowa special team’s coach LeVar Woods. “And I'm not going to say that that's Shaun's deal. That's a team deal on our part. All of us involved in communication, all 11 guys on the field, and all of us on the sideline are involved in communication, and that's something we're working on.”

Unfortunately, some Iowa fans decided the moment that it happened that Beyer was to blame and they just won’t let up.

It is more than likely a vocal minority, but sometimes a vocal minority can sound and sting like a much bigger group.

Fans certainly have a right to be disappointed with the outcome against Wisconsin, and with Iowa’s sloppy play, and there is nothing stopping them from lashing out at certain players, except for you would like to think common decency.

As badly as fans felt after the Wisconsin loss, I can guarantee that Shaun Beyer and his family felt much worse.

As badly as fans wanted to beat the Badgers, nobody wanted to win more than Beyer and his teammates.  

And as hard as it is for fans to get over a gut-wrenching loss, it’s much harder for the players because they have so much invested.

Fans only see the Iowa players for about three to four hours per week on game day, but that is just a tiny part of what the players go through on a weekly basis to get ready.

Iowa’s three coordinators met with the media on Wednesday as part of the bye week and offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz was asked how Beyer has responded.

“Shaun Beyer's a good football player,” Brian Ferentz said. “Shaun Beyer's played a lot of football for us. He's been out there in a lot of special team situations. There was a miscommunication. Shaun Beyer was hustling, doing the best he could to help his football team.

“Something unfortunate happened. He's responded the way you'd expect anybody to respond. He came back to work and he's working to improve and get better and help the football team.”

The fans who feel a need to rip Beyer, and to hold him accountable for the loss to Wisconsin need to just back off and get a life.

What do you hope to accomplish by ripping him on social media besides maybe hurting his feelings or those close to him.

It’s moments like this when you appreciate and understand why Kirk Ferentz prohibits his players from using Twitter.

Because the last thing Shaun Beyer needs right now is to read the nonsense being spewed on that platform since Saturday’s loss.

What Beyer needs more than anything is the support of his teammates and coaches, and he has that without question, along with support from most of the fans.

As for those who feel a need to lash out against Beyer, your feelings are misguided, cruel and wrong.

So do everybody a favor and let it go.