Ferentz defends program, sorry for absence

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz held his annual signing day news conference earlier Wednesday, but as you'd expect, he spent most of his time talking about last week's player hospitalizations.

A few nuggets from Ferentz:

  • Iowa will no longer hold the 100-squat, timed workout that led to 13 players being hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis. But Ferentz said the same workout has been conducted four times before during his tenure with no problems. Players most recently went through the workout in December 2007. They also went through a max-out squat session in June 2004 after a four-week break, much like the layoff that took place before the recent workouts.

  • Ferentz: "We have done something of equal challenge, at least in our opinion, four times. The question begs to be asked is what happened here and why this time and not the other three?"

  • Ferentz defended strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle and his staff, saying that the team's workouts are "designed to be rigorous and also designed to be safe. I think they were in this case." He added of Doyle: "He’s the most sought-after coach I’ve ever been around."

  • The coach also stood by the reports that Doyle challenged players during the workout, telling them, "We'll find out who wants to be here." Ferentz echoed the statement, saying, "I've used those words in the past and I'll use them in the future. And, quite frankly, every day I come to work, that's something I give consideration to."

  • Ferentz went through the timetable of his activities last week. He actually returned to Iowa City on Tuesday before going out on the road Wednesday. The coach ultimately acknowledged that he should have been with the players and their families sooner. "I could have done anything; that's for sure," Ferentz said. "That's a decision I made, and I said that's bad judgment on my part. It's a call that I made. And it's kind of like going for it on fourth down or not; sometimes you're right and sometimes you're wrong."

  • The players are recovering well, but there's no timetable for their return to full team activities. "[Doctors] are going to be very prudent and cautious and make sure no players are at risk before they return," Ferentz said.

  • Ferentz hasn't given much thought to running back Adam Robinson's wish to return to the team. Stay tuned on this issue.

From the quotes I've seen and the response from media members and Iowa fans, Ferentz seemed to handle himself and a delicate situation very well Wednesday. You have to wonder if the polished coach could have limited the backlash against himself and the program if he had a news conference in the middle of last week. Perception is huge in college football, and Iowa didn't help itself in this situation.

A lot of good information from Wednesday's news conference. Ferentz answered a lot of important questions, although he, like the rest of us, will wait for more answers from Iowa's investigation into what happened.