Posted on: March 2, 2011 10:36 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2011 10:36 pm

Impressive reaction from Iowa to SI.com story

When I first saw this response from Iowa (see below) to the SI.com story, I was cynical. Iowa had 18 players with police records, tied for second-most among teams ranked in Sports Illustrated's 2010 preseason top 25. What kind spin was the school going to put on this issue, I thought?

We saw how the Iowa administration reacted rather clumsily in the first few hours of the rhabdo crisis in late January.  This time Iowa got out in front of the story -- well, after the fact -- by being candid and thorough. Overall, this statement is more informative than self-serving and, in a way, calls out other schools that didn't react publicly. 

Rather surprisingly, the school admits that "underage consumption of alcohol and extreme comsumption of alcohol have been issues ..." at Iowa for several years. Wow. Iowa also admits to not doing criminal background checks on players it recruits. Later, AD Gary Barta says, "I am anxious and open to discussions with my peers in the state and in the Big Ten Conference and beyond on whether criminal background checks need to become a regular piece of our recruiting process."

That is beyond impressive and shows the power of the media in a story like this. Before seeing Iowa's statement, I spoke to a Pac-12 AD on Wednesday who said it may be time to start doing background checks as a conference initiative. Just a thought, but the places to start may be the Big Ten and Pac-12, two conferences who fancy themselves academically like-minded.

We have a long way to go on this issue but the SI.com story did move the discussion to a positive place. While some states are more liberal than other in such cases, there is absolutely no excuse for schools not to do at least cursory background checks. It wouldn't be that difficult. Think of it as preventative.

What's it worth to land a Johnny Touchdown in recruiting when there is an equal chance he could burn the opposition as much as his own school?

Here is Iowa's response to the SI.com story released Wednesday night ...
The University of Iowa does not have access to the detail behind the SI.com survey that examined the 2010 pre-season top 25 college football programs. However, the UI does know that a total number of 18 student-athletes who were on the 2010 team roster have, in fact, been charged with offenses since 2007.

 All 18 charges were misdemeanors.  Of these charges:

•        15 were alcohol related;
•        Two were for possession of a controlled substance;
•        One was for misdemeanor assault, and the student-athlete plead guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct. 

Underage consumption of alcohol and extreme consumption of alcohol have been issues for The University of Iowa and Iowa City community for several years. Staff of the UI and the City of Iowa City have and currently are collaborating on a number of efforts to address these concerns.

The University of Iowa currently does not do criminal background checks of student-athletes it is recruiting for participation in its intercollegiate athletics program. UI coaches do routinely have extensive conversation with parents, high school coaches, and other individuals important in the lives of student-athletes they are recruiting.

 The following comment is from Gary Barta, director of athletics at the University of Iowa:

 “I learned about the SI story this morning.  Our total number of incidents match that in the story, however, the detail shows that all 18 of our incidents were misdemeanors and that the vast majority were related to poor decision-making associated with alcohol. And, as many in Iowa know, this has been an ongoing concern for all students on our campus and in our community.

 “Each incident involving a student-athlete is taken seriously and handled according to our student-athlete code of conduct.  Some football student-athletes who have had an incident while a participant in our program have successfully graduated, others are still with us, and others are no longer a part of the program.

 “I am very confident in Kirk’s approach to recruiting. I know he and his staff go to great lengths in trying to assess character when deciding whether to invite a young man to the UI. Like the vast majority of our peers, we don’t do official criminal background checks.

“Recruiting quality student-athletes in all sports is of the utmost importance to me and our coaches. I am anxious and open to discussions with my peers in the state and in the Big Ten Conference and beyond on whether criminal background checks need to become a regular piece of our recruiting process.

 “Lastly, I continue to be impressed and pleased with the work of the overwhelming majority of our football student-athletes in their athletics competition, in the classroom, and as representatives of the University of Iowa on a daily basis.”   The following comment is from Kirk Ferentz, head football coach at the University of Iowa:

 “For 12 years we have dealt promptly, firmly, consistently, and within the student-athlete code of conduct when we have incidents involving members of our football program.  My staff and I will continue to work to ensure our student-athletes are successful as a student, as an athlete, and as a citizen of the Iowa City community.”
Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa, SI.com
Posted on: February 23, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: February 23, 2011 10:20 am

Behind-the-scares at Iowa during rhabdo scare

This is a fascinating look behind-the-scenes at how Iowa officials scrambled during the first days of the rhabdo scare.

Iowa officials were worried about the reaction from national media including our own Gregg Doyel, who, it is pointed out has "16K followers" on Twitter.

The Des Moines Register was able to get several e-mails through the state's open records law. E-mails show how a statement from coach Kirk Ferentz was drafted by others, rather than the coach himself. 

On Jan. 26, the school's faculty athletic representative wrote to AD Gary Barta and president Sally Mason about: " ... my own concern and our need to be transparent when we found out the causes of the medical situation."

Earlier this week, the Associated Press reported that team doctor Ned Amendola was at a meeting in Costa Rica during the time the players were hospitalized. An Iowa official said the school wasn't concerned that Amendola was away during the time the players were in the hospital.  

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa
Posted on: February 18, 2011 4:52 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2011 4:57 pm

Dodd mail 2/18/11

Sometimes there isn't enough room, even on the Internet. Here are four more spring things to follow 25 Spring Things To Watch  ...

YouTube sensation Johnny McEntee called this week. We chatted a bit about the fallout from his monster video "Johnny Mack Trick Shot Quarterback"

The Connecticut quarterback is a fourth-year walk-on from Southern California. The reason he came East is because he got only Division III interest in the L.A. area. At least at UConn, he gets to experience a big-time program. When I asked him his status for this season, he confidently stated "backup". McEntee hasn't thrown a pass in three seasons. 

He says news outlets from around the world have e-mailed with questions (Japan, Hungary, Italy). As of Friday, the video had been viewed 4.6 million times. It took about 14 hours on one day a couple of weeks ago to get all the tricks accomplished. Did he ever anticipate a lazy Saturday with a camera turning into such a sensation? 

"No way," Johnny Mac said. "It's crazy." 

As for the future, there has to be a way of monetizing -- big corporate word -- his talents. Maybe a series of Johnny Mac Trick Shot videos? The public is willing to watch them. Would they be willing to pay for them?

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it," he said.

Don't be a former Miami coach: Got to thinking about this when Randy Shannon recently spurned Maryland which was ready to give the former Hurricanes' coach a soft landing spot as defensive coordinator. The Baltimore Sun reported that Shannon turned down the job because he would have lost $1.5 million in buyout money from Miami. It looks like it is more lucrative to sit on the sidelines as an ex-Hurricane coach than to be employed. 

It's not exactly a curse but consider the careers of these former Miami coaches since Jimmy Johnson ... None of them improved their career after leaving the Hurricanes. Which is strange. Howard Schnellenberger had been in the NFL. JJ was at Oklahoma State. They actually made their careers in South Florida.

Dennis Erickson, at Miami 1989-94: He went to a BCS bowl with Oregon State and dallied with the Seahawks before spending one year at Idaho. In his last three seasons at Arizona State, Erickson is 15-21.  

Butch Davis, 1995-2000: Butch restored Miami to national contention then abruptly left for the NFL where he was largely unsuccessful. Davis has never won more than eight games at North Carolina. His best coaching job may have come in 2010 after suspensions and blossoming agent scandal crippled the program.

Larry Coker, 2001-06: Deserves more credit than he ever gets from vicious Miami fans. Coker kept together the 2001 recruiting class when Davis left, then won a national championship in his first season. Currently, Coker is the coach at Texas-San Antonio which is on track to migrate to Division I-A and join the WAC.

Bet Al Golden didn't think about any of that when he took the job. He's better off thinking about this: The last four Miami coaches are a combined 36-11 in their first seasons.

Nebraska Nowledge: Nebraska fans got their wish -- again. New conference. New offensive coordinator.

It was announced Wednesday that Tim Beck (promoted from running backs coach) has replaced Shawn Watson and will help with the installation of the new zone read option offense. One issue: As of Friday afternoon, no one really knows what happened to Watson. Was he fired? Did he resign? Is he jumping the Snake River Canyon in a rocket? Is he still on staff sweeping the halls? Nebraska isn't saying and no one can seem to find Watson. Bet that he is quietly going about finding his next job. 

What Bo Pelini did was spare Watson the public embarrassment of being fired or having to resign. In a convoluted way, that's a classy move by Bo.

As for Beck, the hope is that quarterback Taylor Martinez stays healthy enough -- and, ahem, determined enough -- to run the new offense. Hanging over the situation is the addition of recruit Bubba Starling -- for now. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound Starling could compete for the starting job in August, or sign with a Major League team

You read it here first: On Thursday, TCU and BYU announced their Oct. 28 game at Cowboys Stadium. That was a week after Dodds and Ends had it.   

This week's feedback feedbag ...

From: Grant

Dennis, I have been in the medical profession for 14 years. The issue here is DEHYDRATION. These kids were obviously worked to extreme conditions but they were not hydrated properly. I have seen Rhabdo over the years in the hospital and you can't believe the ridiculous situations people put themselves through that leads to this condition. You might want to consider an article regarding the lack of proper hydration and where was Iowa's nutritional staff? Just a thought.


It's hard to believe in this day and age that coaches are still keeping players from getting enough water. That's Junction Boys type of stuff. How in the name of Vince Lombardi does that make them better football players.  

Of course, none of us know what happened (yet) at Iowa. That's part of the reason I wrote the story. As long as this mystery hangs over the program everything is on the table. Dehydration? Creatine? Transfers? We don't know if the players were mistreated. We don't know if they'll all be back next season. We don't know if everyone on the staff will still have a job in a couple of months. 

I do know there are some parents that are upset. They should be. 

From: Wally

Hey Dennis, This is a good article because this kind of thing needs to be brought to the fore. However, I don't see any part of the story that says that some players actually want to leave......? I also liked your coverage of the pay-for-play scam that the Rev. (Cecil) Newton and his son were leveraging on the title-hungry SEC. It is really too bad that has all died out - it was a HUGE story ... Keep up the good work.......your opinion IS appreciated.


Thanks for the kind words. Don't know how you found your way in here with all the haters from Iowa. 

As to your point, once again, we don't KNOW how many kids want to leave. That's the story. Questions need to be asked. I tried to find out, believe me. That's all I can do. There is no information coming out of Iowa. It's our (media) job to get as much information as we can. The public deserves it. None of us should have to wait three months for the school's own investigation to tell us what happened. 

The angle of the story is that a noted compliance source -- AND the NCAA -- saying that -- given history -- there's a chance that several players could leave. People don't seem to realize this is an historic event. I've never heard of 13 Division I-A football players going to the hospital at the same time after a workout at their own school. There is a rule in place, thank goodness, to possibly allow them relief. 

I talked to one of my health professional sources this week who said he believes this will "blow over." I asked why. The source said, "They didn't care when 21 players died, why should they care now?" That's sad.

From: Rickford

If (Jadeveon) Clowney gives South Carolina as many wins as Da'Quan Bowers gave Clemson, Gamecock fans will be sorely disappointed. All Clemson eyes will be on Clowney for how he compares to Bowers. That may be one reason he didn't go to Clemson. 

Carolina On Your Mind:

Are you intimating that the history and tradition of SOUTH CAROLINA swayed the nation's No. 1 recruit. I just checked: In the last five years year, Clemson has been exactly 1 1/2 games better than Carolina (39-27 vs. 37-28). Carolina has won three of the five head-to-head meetings. That, to me, makes it all but even. 

Tiebreaker? Carolina's in the SEC where, as I pointed out here, guys like Clowney tend to dominate and subsequently make millions of dollars. 

From: L.E.

Conspicuously absent from your pre-season Top 25 is Brigham Young. 

You could be right, but I rather think BYU is much more of a top 10 team. Spring ball will tell, but when you look at the way BYU came on offensively late in the year, the upgrade to staff over the offseason, the 10 returning starters on offense and six on defense that started the first five games in 2010 ranked below 100 in total defense; then average less than 230 yards per game over the final eight games. That team could be an enormous sleeper.

We'll know a lot when they open at Mississippi and Texas, but do not be surprised if they win both, defeat UTAH and UCF at home to start the season. Honestly Dennis, I doubt they mind being in the shadows, but do not be surprised if they are not a top 10 team by midseason, with only Oregon State and Hawaii on the road standing between them and an undefeated year, a slate much tougher than any Boise State ever had and no MWC anchor to tie them down to that non-AQ league status. 

BYU travels well...could be a BCS buster for sure. 

Coug for Life:

The basic question is whether BYU will be able to survive as an independent. I'm on record as saying no. Its biggest plus is not talent or the schedule, it is ESPN as a scheduling partner. 

BYU needs games. ESPN will get it games. But will BYU be able to win enough of those games to get a BCS bid? In that sense, it now has the same access to the BCS as Army and Navy. (Notre Dame has its own special privileged access to the BCS.) In other words, it's now HARDER for BYU to get to a BCS bowl. The problem in the Mountain West is that BYU was mediocre-to-good at about at the same time TCU and Utah blew up. BYU couldn't KEEP up. What makes you think that an arguably more ambitious schedule as an independent is going to make things better?

From: Dr. Greg

Dennis, what coach (Rich Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.

Doc Wolverine:

Except for the bowl streak, you're a little off. Lloyd Carr was roundly criticized at the end because he didn't have Michigan back in national title contention after 1997. That basically happened once (2006) since '97. Michigan's last outright Big Ten title was 2003. (It was co-champ in 2004). Let's not forget that four of those seven consecutive losses to Ohio State are on Lloyd. 

I'm not defending Rich Rod because he failed to live up to the Michigan standard but there was some fixing to be done, no doubt.

Posted on: February 5, 2011 1:20 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 1:23 pm

Dodd mail 2/5

Observations after being trapped in Dallas this week by an ice storm on one end and a blizzard in the Midwest on the other. After three flight cancellations, two rental cars and a 154-minute delay at DFW, I made it home.

Please tell me you share my joy.

--With the Super Bowl in Big D this week (actually, Big A, Arlington), the NFL needs to take action. Isn't it about time Roger Goodell fines the National Weather Service $25,000 for excessive blows to the region?

--If there is anyone who should be aware of the dangers of frostbite it is a college hockey player, right? 

--The latest UGA -- bulldog mascot -- has died at Georgia. New signee Isaiah Crowell should be getting a call soon. Crowell brought a bull pup to his signing press conference to emphasize his love of the Dawgs. I'm thinking the puppy has plenty of eligibility left to become the new UGA.

--In response to one of his columns about college training techniques, the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi got this from a reader: "Since 2000 — 21 college football players dead. I am an ex-Marine, and I have to believe that in the same time frame we had more young people go through boot camp with less fatalities. And I would guess our boots [soldiers] started at a lower level of conditioning. So what is wrong?"

The three biggest stories of the week -- at least in this corner of the world  -- were National Signing Day, the firings and suspensions of medical personnel at Iowa and Rich Rodriguez.

Your reactions ...

From: Greg

Dennis, what coach (Rodriguez) does not understand is that he thought he was hired to FIX something. He kept saying it would take time to FIX. Michigan was not broke! They competed for Big Ten titles every year. They were in the national title hunt a few times. They went to bowl games 30 straight years!! He never built on that success. He ruined it.

Man of Michigan:

Rich Rod didn't use the word "fix" until he got on campus and saw the dearth of talent. Maybe he should have done a better job of evaluating talent. I'll give you that.

But "Rodriguez supporters" -- you'll see the math here-- paint a different picture of the state of Michigan football when Rich Rod arrived.

From: Jim

Dennis, nice article about Rich Rodriguez. I am a Michigan fan, and really appreciate hearing Rich's side of the story. I met Coach Rod at his UM football camp and when he posed for pictures with my special needs son, he really impressed me. I would love to write or e-mail him at CBS and express my thanks for his service to UM -- if you would pass along any contact info for Rich, I'd appreciate it. Please keep up the good work in your columns, Go Blue! - Jim C.


You can contact my here in the fan feedback section. I'll e-mail you Rich Rod's contact information.

From: Chioke

Dear Dennis, When could you see Howard Schnellenberger retiring?

FAU have a heck of a question:
Haven't thought about that in a while but it is a worthwhile inquiry. Schnellie will be 77 on March 16. In four of his five years at FAU, the Owls have finished in the top three in the Sun Belt Conference. (They tied for the league title in 2007 and won the New Orleans Bowl.)

As long as Howard continues to be energized and remains healthy, I see no reason why he can't keep going. The strategy now seems to be one year a time. Schnellenberger was extended in 2007 through 2010 but a clause in the deal (per this blog) says an additional year was added to the deal because the Owls' new stadium was not finished. 

Schnellenberger wants to keep going. He's fine with basically a year-to-year contract. The Sun Belt remains winnable in any given year. Why not?

From: Kevin

Not so fast Dennis. Looks like Clemson has caught Jadeveon Clowney's attention. Clemson has put defensive players in the NFL with handsome paychecks as well. SEC is not a lock for this talent.

Climpson's For Clowney:

Agreed. When I wrote this Clowney piece Clemson wasn't as much in the picture as it is now. Dabo Swinney has done a great job of rallying late in recruiting. This is going to buy him some time. If Clowney does come to Clemson it's going to be a monster recruiting class. 

You know what happens after monster recruiting classes -- monster expectations.

From: Lee

Being an Auburn fan, at first I thought this Clowney column was going to be downing the SEC. But after I read it, I really enjoyed it and appreciate you Dodd doing us all a favor and actually talking about football. Thanks!

Friend of Aubie:

I'm glad to write something new(ton) about Auburn. For a large part of the season the words, "NCAA", "Cecil", "payoff", "Mississippi State", "sleaze" and "cheating" were required in any mention of the Tigers. Even up to the point when they won in Arizona. Even up to the point when we wonder how long that national championship will last.

From: Dennis

If the kid's dad knew sickle cell ran in the family why didn't he have the young man tested for it? 

Seems a responsible parent would do just that and not blame a college for giving his or her child a chance at a better life via a free education. But that would have meant they took responsibility for their son's well being, huh? May also have meant no football with a chance at the NFL and a big payday for the entire family. 

The bottom line is no matter how hard society and a bunch of lawyers try, there's no child proofing the world. Life is filled with adventure, danger and mixed results. This was one of those adventures that didn't have a storybook ending.

Legal Expert:

I wouldn't call the death of a player and "adventure." 

The fact is, Bennie Abram's dad only had an idea that sickle cell ran in the family. I'm betting he was no medical expert and had no idea what it meant to his son. Besides. Ole Miss HAD tested Bennie Abram for sickle cell. The family is suing for wrongful death because of the way Abram's treatment was handled.

That's where there is sometimes a disconnect. It's one thing testing a player. It's another telling him and his family. It's another, then, dealing with that player in the proper way during playing and practice seasons. 

I believe Alaska was the last state to test for sickle cell at birth (or the remaining state that doesn't). Point is, the hospital may test for it, the test may be positive, the doctors may notify the parents, but what does that mean 18 years later when the kid is in college? The parents may have forgotten. There may not even be symptoms up to that point.

By the way, the Abrams are not suing a school that gave their child a "free education". Bennie Abram was a loyal Rebel who wanted to play so bad for Ole Miss that he walked on. 
Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:25 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 12:26 pm

More information is good in the Iowa case

If five staffers at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics leaked information about those 13 Iowa football players, then a part of me is glad.

A big part. The part that craves information. The part that admires the bravery of sources who value information over their personal security and welfare. The part that thinks that the public good sometimes trumps secrecy.

I'm selfish that way. So was America during Watergate.

Hands off the keyboard, Iowa Fan. No one is saying this is Watergate. No one is saying those staffers leaked any information. All we know for certain is that the five are being disciplined for accessing private information. Three are being fired. Were they wrong? Absolutely. Morally and ethically. According to the wire story, some may face jail time.

But that's not my problem. I want to know what happened in Iowa City 10 days ago. I want to know it as soon as possible. That makes me a lot like the players' parents. I don't think we should have to wait 90 days while the school conducts an investigation. Yep, I'm selfish that way. 

If -- and only if -- any of those five leaked information that holds people accountable in this case, then the story has been advanced. I'm curious. We all are. There's a lot of mystery here that hasn't been addressed. Thirteen students from a state institution were somehow put in peril. Remember this: No federal laws would have been broken if first those 13 players weren't hospitalized. Think how you would feel if that was your child in the hospital with a partially functioning kidney. First, you would be concerned, afraid, stricken with dread. Then you would want to know what happened. When that information wasn't immediately available, then you would be mad.

We know at least some of the Iowa parents are mad . A story broke shortly after the hospitalizations that the 13 had been drug tested. All tested negative, according to the story. Other information has emerged too. It could be from those five. It could be from parents. It could be from a combination of the two.

I'm a consumer. I want that information. There is disconnect in this situation.  I want to know why the drills used last month had been used in the past and nothing happened, according to Kirk Ferentz. I want to hear from strength coach Chris Doyle, by all accounts one of the most admired persons in the profession. I want to know why 21 football players have died since 200 0 , all of them due to some form of overexertion. I want to know why there seems to be a culture of pushing players too hard

"The question begs to be asked, is 'What happened here and why this time?' "

That was Ferentz basically speaking for all of us on Wednesday. In this world of Twitter and blogs and breaking news, we are conditioned to having instant information. Sometimes that information makes us uncomfortable. Look what it has done already. Ferentz said Wednesday "we'll not repeat this exercise," referring to the drills that were done on Jan. 24. Thank God. 

A lot of you have lit me up on Twitter already for my stance. Understandable.  I wouldn't want my medical records released to anyone. Does that make me a hypocrite? Perhaps. Am I selfish for wanting to know more this case? Absolutely not. And all of us know more than we did 10 days ago. 

Let's not forget the root cause here: We're not having this discussion if those players hadn't gone to the hospital. 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa
Posted on: January 28, 2011 4:05 pm

Latest from Iowa

In this Friday Des Moines Register story medical experts say that supplements and pickup basketball can be contributing factors to what the 13 players are going through this week.

Perhaps, but I'll say it again -- there have been scores of football players go out and get drunk, take the wrong supplement, even play pickup basketball over a weekend. There has never been a mass admittance to the hospital because of kidney problems caused by exterional rhabdo.

Also, is anyone else even mildly troubled that University of Iowa physicians are leading the in-house inquiry? This situation screams for neutral professions to take a look from the outside.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa
Posted on: January 27, 2011 5:36 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2011 10:30 am

Was Iowa punishing players?

It is now 72 hours since 13 Iowa players were hospitalized. Details are starting to emerge suggesting that the players were being punished more than getting in shape.

The Sporting News reported Thursday that the players were drug tested, ruling out cocaine and amphetamines that can cause rhabdo. That's great but let's direct some scrutiny at the strength coaches who were conducting the workouts. I'm no doctor but I'm guessing players have taken drugs -- gotten drunk too -- and survived offseason workouts.

Information later in the story suggests that the workouts were punitive more than performance-related. 

"I don't know all the details, but I'm pretty sure a few of them went out on the weekend, had a good time, the first weekend back at school instead of recovering and resting like they should have been doing," said former player Christian Ballard.

Once again, Iowa players wouldn't be the first to get drunk on a weekend between workouts. The last time such workouts were done was 2007, according to sources, when Iowa went 6-6 and missed a bowl game. Ballard suggested similar "punishment" (my word, not his) may have been at work this time.

"We were a little bit disappointed with the way the season ended ...," Ballard told The Sporting News . "They wanted to make sure with the people we were losing, that they're ready to work, come into spring knowing it's going to be a grind to get back to the top of the Big Ten."

Going to the hospital ought to get the players' attention. 
Coach Kirk Ferentz finally met with parents and players Wednesday night. Meanwhile, Iowa has started an investigation . The next question that needs to be asked is if there was a medical staffer with the players during the workouts. The NCAA states that a medical staffer with power to alter or shut down workouts must be at every organized training session.

If that staffer was there, what did he/she see? Did he/she consider shutting down the workout? Why or why not?

If I'm a parent, I'm extremely upset my son has been in the hospital all week.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Iowa
Posted on: January 26, 2011 6:46 pm

Biff Poggi star of Iowa press conference

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."

Category: NCAAF
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com