Tough guy

Willie Taggart is Oregon’s new head coach and like many of his ilk, wasted little time in regime change.  This time of year, that means tougher strength and conditioning work, under the direction of a new S&C coach he brought in.

Things are going swimmingly.

At least three Oregon Ducks football players were hospitalized after enduring a series of grueling strength and conditioning workouts at UO last week, The Oregonian/OregonLive has learned.

Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in fair condition and remained at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. They have been in the hospital since late last week after workouts that occurred during the team’s return from holiday break.

Poutasi’s mother, Oloka, said that her son complained of very sore arms after the workouts and had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook. Depending on the severity, it has the potential to lead to damaged kidneys.

Nice.  But the school is very sorry.

“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do,” Oregon wrote in a statement on behalf of the entire athletic department. “While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences.

“We thank our medical staff and trainers for their continued monitoring of the students and we will continue to support our young men as they recover.”

Actually, I have to give Oregon a little more credit than that.

The University of Oregon suspended football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde one month without pay after three players were hospitalized following a series of intense workouts last week.

The school announced the decision in a statement Tuesday evening and detailed a review of the incident. It added that all future workouts have been modified and the strength and conditioning coach will now report to director of performance and sports science Andrew Murray instead of coach Willie Taggart, who apologized in the statement.  [Emphasis added.]

Oregon’s statement detailed that players began an off-season conditioning program last Tuesday after six weeks away from “football-related activities” and Oderinde led those workouts.

I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs after only one month on the job.  For that matter, I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs.

But here’s what I really don’t get.

The NCAA medical handbook listed “novel workouts or exercises immediately following a transitional period” such as a winter break as one of its 10 factors that can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. It also cautioned that “all training programs should start slowly, build gradually, include adequate rest and allow for individual differences.”

The NCAA constantly blathers about its concern for the well-being of student-athletes.  Where is it in this mess?  The reason this came to light was because of media reports.  But for that, it’s likely that Taggart wouldn’t have been penalized.  Is waving a medical handbook the best the organization can offer?  Don’t answer that…



Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

27 responses to “Tough guy

  1. 81Dog

    This makes me wonder: were mat drills tougher than the fan base thought, or was The Process not as big a change as some people claim? Apparently, UGA didn’t have people going to the hospital as a result of the changeover (which to me, is a good thing). Maybe the country club atmosphere wasn’t so country club. Or is it still lingering? What a conundrum.

    Could just be southern players are born tougher than the west coast boys.


  2. Walt

    I blame the pussification of the sport.

    There, got that idiotic comment out if the way.


  3. Granthams replacement

    That condition is associated with SEAL training and individuals who decide to start cross fit after sitting on the couch for years. My sister in law had it, got a 6 day hospital stay and lost a gallbladder.


  4. Stacey Osborn



  5. Bright Idea

    Under a new high school coach trying to break down “the weak” my nephew lost 27 pounds and ended up with rhabdo ending his football 2 years early. He gutted out 6 months of intense workouts before the August heat compounded the problem. Some bodies aren’t cut out to both fatigue every muscle while training to add muscle at the same time. A coach trying to prove how tough he is in a matter of a few days or weeks is dangerous.


  6. Normaltown Mike


    Didn’t Billy Blanks used to hawk this in late night infomercials?


  7. dawgman3000

    Willie shouldn’t have taken that hot mess of a job. He comes from that Harbaugh tree and wants to implement that style of play in Eugene to become a Stanford type team. Not gonna work IMHO.


    • gastr1

      A bit off-topic I know, but why not? If Harbaugh and Shaw could do it at Stanford, why can’t Oregon play that way too?


      • dawgman3000

        Because I don’t believe he will be given the time needed to go from that up tempo finesse spread to an power running attack. Also, stories like this is definitely not helping him.


  8. HVL Dawg

    This is an amazing story. I don’t see how this strength coach will recover.

    This hits at the program’s (and University’s) overall competence, credibility and professionalism.

    A month off without pay is pretty significant, but who wants to play for Oregon now? Miami is battling Oregon for a top recruit right now. I’m sure CMR’s staff hasn’t asked Momma if she knows how those boys are doing in the hospital. I’m sure they have good hospitals up there in Springfield, OR.


  9. MGW

    Well, they should have made a bowl game.


  10. After reading all the comments and some articles on this and other cases. I am stunned, seriously, that someone such as the S and C coach, could not be aware of this happening or just letting it happen. New sheriff is not being very smart. Coaches are a stubborn lot and this really shows it.


  11. The Truth

    Why the teflon coating on Taggart, relatively speaking? He ordered the Code Red.


  12. Mayor

    This is troubling IMHO.