DJK Burning Bridges

DJK Burning Bridges

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos put together a career at Iowa that should have fans holding him in high regard. Instead, the divide between former star and the Hawkeye faithful continues to widen. It could have been so much better.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - We sports fans are a nostalgic bunch. We remember the history of our favorite teams sometimes better than things we study in school.

For many of us, it starts at a young age. It's when we feel the strongest about the group for which we root. Life is simpler and we embrace our heroes. The memories often last a lifetime.

The worship decreases with age. Things like college and marriage and children share time with our athletic fancies. The love and passion remains, however, and sports serve as a respite from work and stress.

Iowa fans gather with family and friends for 12 Saturdays each fall to cheer their favorite sons. It's a loyal, tight-knit group that can turn any bowl location into a sea of black and gold. If you're in it, you understand.

It makes what transpired the last several days on Twitter hard to watch. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and a lot of Hawkeye fans experienced a nasty divorce. More of them could join the breakup if Iowa's all-time receptions leader publishes a tell-all book he claims will reveal improprieties in the program.

The previous Tweets arrived about two days apart. Before, in between and after, came other allegations and details (some of them have been deleted) about his time at Iowa, which unceremoniously ended with a drug arrest in late 2010. Head Coach Kirk Ferentz immediately kicked him off of the team.

The following fall, Johnson-Koulianos accused Ferentz of black balling him with NFL scouts. The coach denied the allegation.

So, while these recent charges by Johnson-Koulianos against his alma mater aren't his first, they certainly are more serious. Accusing a program of improper benefits creates animosity with people attached to it, particularly the fans, who are deeply invested in their school's reputation.

Johnson-Koulianos continues to drive a wedge between himself and those people who cheered him on to 173 career catches. They jumped up and down and high-fived as he accumulated 4,256 all-purpose yards, which ranks fifth all-time at the school.

The kick return for a touchdown at Ohio State in '09 fades from their memories now, replaced by negatives thoughts. Some of the Twitter interactions between former star and the Iowa disciples are nasty, mean and angry. A book will perpetuate those feelings.

For Johnson-Koulianos to be believed by the masses, he's going to need documentation of his allegations or former teammates in the know on record to back them. He's just not going to win a he-said, he-said battle with the coaches in the court of public opinion. He's too badly damaged his credibility in the eyes of the people that care most about all of this, the Hawkeye devotees.

And if Johnson-Koulianos can produce evidence of wrongdoing, something that could really hurt the program, the partisan Iowa crowd will further banish him from their club. His fall from grace would be complete.

There really is no going back now. The damage is done and beyond repair. And that's sad.

A lot of Iowa fans would have forgiven Johnson-Koulianos his transgression in '10 if it would have been followed only with remorse. Instead, he's chosen to seek some kind of justice against people in the football offices.

It could have ended so differently, so much better. Instead of the fans celebrating the great memories he supplied, Johnson-Koulianos is becoming a pariah.

It's hard to imagine Johnson-Koulianos ever being inducted into the school's hall of fame. A honorary captaincy on a sun-plashed afternoon in Kinnick is most certainly out of the question. He might not even be welcome at a reunion of the '10 Orange Bowl Champions.

That's not the way anyone wanted it to end, least of all Johnson-Koulianos. Athletes enjoy reliving the golden years with their followers.

Johnson-Koulianos would have done well rubbing elbows. He's an intelligent, engaging young man. The supporters could have loved him.

Now, more and more of the fans are beginning to loathe him. It's too bad, really.

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