"It's a classic scandal. We got caught telling the truth."
During halftime of Iowa's Tuesday night game with Pittsburgh, longtime Iowa play-by-play announcer Gary Dolphin did something he has done a million times: He said something benign and threw the broadcast to a commercial. Only this time, the commercial didn't play, and Dolphin's mic (and that of color commentator Bobby Hansen) remained on.
And then Dolph said something that wasn't very nice:
Anyone listening to Dolp on radio. Forgot to turn his mic off at half. Haha Why cant we get any good recruits, Pitt get 3 in his first year. We get Dailey who dribbles with his head down into double teams, God hahaha
— martint44 (@martint7211) November 28, 2018
UPDATE: Audio, courtesy of Sean Roberts on Twitter:
— Sean Roberts (@Sean23Roberts) November 28, 2018
This came after a half in which Pittsburgh basically destroyed Iowa's defense with three true freshmen. So at least Dolphin wasn't wrong.
Ever the class act, Dolphin apologized on air later in the game, then made a more formal apology in the postgame. Dolphin also talked with Chad Leistikow of the DMR about the whole thing:
Just talked to Dolph. Said he was frustrated when he made negative comments about a player and thought he was off air. We want them to win so bad, sometimes we get frustrated when theyre not playing well in certain stretches."
— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) November 28, 2018
Gary Barta issued a statement about the whole thing Tuesday night:
Release from the University pic.twitter.com/bOVDCFszZ6
— Hawkeyes Mic (@HawkeyesMic) November 28, 2018
That's not the unquestionable statement of support you'd want if you were Dolphin, but an offhand comment that (1) isn't that critical of a player and (2) is pretty much true, isn't generally grounds for the termination of a guy with the career and track record of Dolph. Also keep in mind that Barta tried this once, with Ed Podolak in 2009, and Ed is still in the booth.
Dolph is far from perfect. He frequently cheerleads for Iowa's opponents to an almost-comical extent. He sometimes seems to forget he's on radio and just omits details from the games he's calling, including things like score, time, down and distance. He often needs two or three attempts to correctly identify the player involved in a particular play or event.
But Dolph is also a loyal foot soldier for Barta, Ferentz, McCaffery and the programs he calls. Last summer, he was emceeing the Omaha/Council Bluffs I-Club event, which just so happened to be on the same day that Barta was hit with a million-dollar verdict in a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee. Dolphin was so eager to avoid discussing what had just happened to his boss that afternoon -- an event that everyone in the room knew about and probably had followed somewhat closely -- that he was riffing without a script on Trump, Congress and the war in Syria. He's not great as an announcer, but as a public relations vehicle for the athletic department, he's a pro's pro, and this minor gaffe doesn't change that.