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Iowa football strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle made himself available for questioning at the Hawkeyes' Media Day Friday. It was the first such time he's met reporters en masse since the rhabdomyolysis incident of the winter in which 13 Iowa players were hospitalized.
Scott Dochterman's has posted videos of Doyle discussing the January rhabdo situation at this link.
Right before I started asking Doyle some questions, he said this:
"With the high profile of a football program like Iowa, criticism's going to come along, it's part of the territory. We can't be concerned with what other people think outside of the program. We're going to focus on the people in our program. The care and the well-being of our players is our absolute numer one priority. Every single one of those athletes was cleared for spring football. They all came back strongly from that experience and we're ready to move on."
Then I asked him about being named Iowa's first Assistant Coach of the Year at an I-Club banquet last spring.
"I didn't put a lot of thought into that. I didn't try to analyze it. There's a reason why the stability at the University of Iowa's football program is so unique, and that's because we have an outstanding leader, incredibly loyal to his people and stands by his people. I'm smart enough to realize that I have one of the best jobs in football working for somebody like Kirk Ferentz. I didn't get into analyzing that, that's something Kirk decided to do. We went through that process, and here we are."
"I certainly appreciate it. We've been here 13 years as a staff and there's certainly people on our staff that would be well-deserving of that kind of statement. Kenny O'Keefe, Norm Parker, Phil Parker. Three guys that have been here from the very beginning. Outstanding people, outstanding football coaches. (It's) certainly humbling, because any one of the coaches on our staff could be named the assistant coach of the year. The fact that Kirk did that, very humbling."
I asked Doyle about several former Iowa players rallying to his defense during the rhabdo controversy.
"We're in the relationship business, that's what we do. College football is about relationships with 18-to-22-year-old young people. We spend more time with the athletes than anyone else does on campus. So we have an extremely unique opportunity to develop relationships with those young people. So like in any family, when you have some times of adversity, people stick together. I think that's true of Iowa football."
About many former Hawkeye players returning to Iowa City:
"It says something a lot about the University of Iowa, it says something about the college football program here, it says something about the city of Iowa City. Our guys have typically had a good experience here. They've had a good experience of playing football in a city where we have great fan-support, but more importantly, it's this: College football is like reality TV in that if you don't win and you aren't successful, they're going to make changes. We're surrounded with young staffs. If you look around us, we're surrounded with young staffs where people have made changes, universities have made changes. At the University of Iowa, we've had stability for 13 years. So when those players walk into our building, they see coaches that they played for, they see coaches that they share a common history with, and young teammates that are going through the same thing that they went through. So it's very easy for our guys to come back and visit the University of Iowa because of the stability and the family atmosphere developed under Kirk."
About many NFL players training at the Iowa complex during the NFL lockout:
"Typically, we might have 8 or 10 guys a day, NFL guys in the building. Whereas this year it was more like 20 to 25 NFL players a day. The traffic was high. We'd have those guys in regularly. It was an incredible opportunity. Imagine if you were a math teacher in high school and the best math students that you ever taught all came back to the same classroom together. That's what we were dealing with. The questions of 'Boy, who's the fastest linebacker we've ever had, and you've got (Chad) Greenway, you've got (Jeff) Tarpinian, and you've got (Pat) Angerer, and the three of them are running against each other in a workout in June in Iowa City in 2011. There's nothing better than that when you talk about building relationships, the kind of relationships we're fortunate enough to build with young people, when they come back. It doesn't get any better than that."
Does Doyle direct those NFL players, or simply work with them?
"The guys that come back want to train in the Iowa way, and that's why they're here. There's a bunch of guys who aren't here that we're e-mailing and electronically programming out because they can't make it. As our guys get older they have families and they have kids, and they're not as mobile as they were before they had kids and before they got married. So now there's guys that want us to electronically get their programming to them in a situation like we had this spring with the lockout."