Where is the Accountability, Iowa?

"[I]n the hospital ... turns out its bad news bears wen ur wizz is brown."

That's from a Facebook post from Jim Poggi, a freshman linebacker for Iowa. Why was his wizz brown? Because deteriorating muscle tissue entered his bloodstream and made its way to his kidneys.

Deteriorating muscle tissue is not one of the things your kidneys can handle, or concentrate. It's called Exertional Rhabdomyolysis, and those malfunctioning kidneys can kill you. Or at least turn ur wizz brown.

"Exertional" as in, "you worked out this/these muscles more than they can handle." And Poggi is not alone. Twelve of his teammates are in the hospital with him with the same condition.

The scuttlebutt around the commentariat of the Iowa blogs was that the players were engaging in a squats contest, kind of like the players don't know their own limitations and don't want to be the guy who seems not as formidably tough as his peers.

But, no. Turns out this wasn't a bunch of kids getting together and pushing themselves too hard, but a fully-supervised workout involving five strength and conditioning coaches. Based on what was said in today's press conference in Iowa City, and other players on Facebook, players had to do 100 squats (at 240 pounds, according to freshman linebacker Shane DiBona) as fast as possible, and then pull a tackling sled 100 yards.

According to Hawkeyes Public Relations coordinator Paul Federici, they do this kind of workout plenty, and this is the first time this has happened. "This is an anomaly. We just haven't seen this type of response before."

Can I suggest that the "this kind of workout plenty" part is self-evidently untrue? This isn't one or two guys who were hospitalized, but 13. Something was different from how the regimen was run this time.

So what was that difference? Well, Iowa officials are, at least for now, sticking to the story that this was just a fluke times 13. What do those five strength and conditioning coaches say? Nothing. They weren't present at the press conference Iowa held to address this matter. In fact, no one who was there for the workout was present at the press conference.

Indeed, no football staffers were there at all. It was just Federici, and — get this — Poggi's dad.

Remember when all those Toyotas were being recalled for faulty brakes? How would it be if the only one facing the press in a capacity arranged by Toyota was their PR guy and the parent of one of the drivers affected by the brakes?

So Iowa's reaction to this situation in the early days of this mess is remarkably poor, and, as Doc Saturday put it, "reeks of evasiveness."

Indeed, they aren't even releasing the names of the 13 players hospitalized, except for Poggi, who outed himself (each player is still in the hospital, over 48 hours later. They are in "safe and stable condition"). Poggi's dad defended the program, which, given the fact that he and Federici were the only ones behind the podium at the press conference, looks to be another cynical PR move. "Hey, Mr. Poggi. Since you're not mad at us, will you tell the world that? That's what's important here. Thanks."

Iowa, it seems, is just not ready to avail anyone who was actually present during the workout to the press. I am guessing they will in the coming days, but not until they have thoroughly practiced what to say and what not to say. The lack of pertinent parties speaking reeks of something else, too: damage control. Iowa isn't ready to break the huddle yet on that front. That's why interested parties are having to prowl the kids' Facebook pages for any kind of insight. Here's another one of those, from DiBona.

"I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can't walk and I fell down the stairs ... life's great."

Comments and Conversation

January 28, 2011


I wonder if this will all be hushed up and swept under the rug.

My money’s on no Iowa employees being fired or reprimanded over this. Sucks, but true.

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