The star of Iowa's press conference addressing the hospitalization of 13 players was clearly Biff Poggi.
He is the father of Jim Poggi, a freshman linebacker, one of the players hospitalized for what is reported to be exertional rhabdomyolsis, a condition that causes the breakdown of skeletal muscle and can cause kidney damage. Biff was his son's high school coach at The Gilman School in Towson, Md. He felt the situation was serious enough to travel 1,000 miles to check on his son. Forty-eight hours after his players were admitted, Ferentz, on a recruiting trip, still hadn't arrived back in Iowa City.
The Wednesday afternoon presser was mostly a white wash. No Ferentz. No athletic director Gary Barta. Not one member of the strength staff. A skeptic might assume that Iowa was trying to limit its liability. But Biff Poggi sat resolutely with Iowa and medical officials to take questions.
"I found out from a phone call from Jim that he was being admitted to the hospital [Monday]," the father said. "We spoke over the weekend because he had a tremendous amount of soreness. Jim is progressing well. Thank God he's doing well. He's getting fantastic care."
Biff Poggi said the team did a "heavy squat" workout on Thursday, "multiple reps, in a certain amount of time." That was followed by a sled drill. The coach gave a detailed account of the days leading up to the hospitalization. He said there were three workouts -- Thursday, lower body; Friday, upper body; off Saturday and Sunday; Monday, another lower body workout. Following that workout, players were admitted to the hospital.
Biff Poggi has a relationship with Ferentz going back to the late 1990s when he coached Ferentz's son Brian during his freshman and sophomore years in high school.
"As a father I'm concerned ...," Poggi said. "However, I would tell you that the responsiveness of how we've been dealt with, we've been happy with that. very happy with what's been done at the hospital. They're getting a lot of care. As a dad ... I had a lot of questions. People were there to answer them."
Poggi said he had spoken to Ferentz "at least four or five times." "Everybody," he added, "is in an information-gathering mode."
Poggi was then asked about the "value" of offseason workouts.
"This time of year, if you're a football player, is the time when you're doing the most kind of strenuous work, kind of preparing for spring practice. This type of rigorous workout is the same everywhere. I've sent kids, who have played for me, everywhere in the country. These kinds of workouts [are] what happens."
Poggi called the Iowa situation "a statistical outlier."