Coach Benched

by Published: Nov 13, 2013

Ferris football Coach Tony Annese was suspended due to acts committed in the locker room during the game at Michigan Tech University on Oct. 26. The Bulldogs defeated Northwood 42-10 on Nov. 9 under the direction of assistant head coach Rob Zeitman. Torch File Photo

Ferris foot­ball Coach Tony Annese was sus­pended due to acts com­mit­ted in the locker room dur­ing the game at Michigan Tech University on Oct. 26. The Bulldogs defeated Northwood 42–10 on Nov. 9 under the direc­tion of assis­tant head coach Rob Zeitman.
Torch File Photo

On Nov. 10, senior offen­sive line­men Sam Parker went to the media to give his per­spec­tive on the inci­dent that led to the sus­pen­sion of foot­ball Head Coach Tony Annese.

“It was cold, it was snowy, and we were play­ing ter­ri­ble,” Parker said. “One of the play­ers on the side­line was dis­re­spect­ing the team. [Annese] walked up to the player at half­time and jos­tled him by the shoul­der pads and struck him a few times on the shoul­der pads, ask­ing if he was with us or against us and try­ing to pump us all up.”

In a TV inter­view with WoodTV8, an NBC News affil­i­ate in Grand Rapids, Parker told the news crews specif­i­cally that Annese hit the player no harder than one would hit a TV to get it to work.

“He went up and did the same to a few other play­ers,” Parker said. “Its no dif­fer­ent than what you see coaches do on the side­line every day. He then went into the offen­sive room, threw a small white board at the lock­ers, then threw a back­pack at the lock­ers, and left the room.”

According to Parker, Annese then told sup­port staff, “If that doesn’t get them going, I don’t know what will.

Prior to approach­ing the media, Parker con­sulted his posi­tion coach, Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach Rob Zeitman, to tell him what he planned to do. Zeitman is serv­ing as interim Head Coach in Annese’s absence.

“He told me that I had never signed any­thing say­ing I couldn’t talk to the media,” Parker said. “He told me I wont get in trou­ble with the school or NCAA for speak­ing out. The rumors fly­ing around are ridicu­lous and detri­men­tal to the team, I just wanted to set the story straight.”

As of noon on Nov. 11, Parker has not been con­tacted by the Athletic Department regard­ing his state­ment, and says he did not speak to Athletic Department offi­cials prior to speak­ing to the media.

The Torch attempted to reach Annese for com­ment twice, once at 1:06 p.m. on Nov. 7 via text mes­sage and once by phone at 1:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. Annese did not answer either message.

The uni­ver­sity released a state­ment regard­ing the Oct. 26 inci­dent that took place at half­time in the locker room at Michigan Tech University via news ser­vices and social media man­ager Sandy Gholston at 7:44 p.m. on Nov. 6.

The state­ment did not spec­ify the inci­dent in ques­tion, but said “University offi­cials con­ducted an imme­di­ate review of the incident.”

Ferris junior defen­sive end Carlton Johnson expressed dis­ap­point­ment with the administration’s deci­sion to sus­pend Annese.

“I think it’s sad that peo­ple that don’t even know the sit­u­a­tion can hand out a sus­pen­sion,” he said. “To tell you the truth, [it] don’t even make sense.”

Though the tac­tic may have gone awry, the Bulldogs who went into the locker room down 21–10 on Oct. 26, stormed back to life and won 30–27 in Houghton for the first time in 15 years.

Ferris Athletic Director Perk Weisenburger was reached and said he was unable to com­ment on the sit­u­a­tion per uni­ver­sity Policy.

“As this is a per­son­nel issue, the University will not make any addi­tional com­ments regard­ing this inci­dent,” Gholston wrote in the press release.

Weisenburger referred the Torch back to Gholston who was to han­dle all com­ments on the situation.

At 2:06 p.m. on Nov. 7, Gholston returned a call to the Torch and said that the report was not available.

The Torch sub­mit­ted a Freedom of Information Act request to Ferris Vice President and General Counsel Miles Postema and the Athletic Department at approx­i­mately 4 p.m. on Nov. 8. Under FOIA guide­lines, the uni­ver­sity has five busi­ness days from receiv­ing the request to respond.