Oregon Ducks football coach Willie Taggart is off to bumpy start in Eugene, as three players were hospitalized after recent workouts.
Here’s what we know about the situation today via The Oregonian:
“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.”
Oregon no longer has their longtime strength and conditioning coach Jim Radcliffe.
According to the report, workouts included “an hour of continuous push-ups” and other players passed out. Some showed symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of muscle tissue that is damaging for the blood stream. In 2011, 13 Iowa players were hospitalized with that condition in January workouts.
The University of Oregon has released the following statement about the workouts.
“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do. 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.”
In an earlier report from The Oregonian, “a large number of players” didn’t complete workouts and often worked at “half effort” last season.
“One current Duck — who like all players interviewed requested anonymity in exchange for their candor — recalled teammates who finished workouts to the letter, but with much lighter weights. Another said it was common for some to mark down that they had completed all the repetitions — even though they had not done so. At the height of summer, players left the weight room barely sweating.”
Here are some recent tweets from players on the Ducks football team, however, contrasting the workouts in the Taggart era.
i have no idea what’s soft or out of shape about a man pushing himself until he can’t go no more.That’s who I want beside me in the trenches
— Tyrell Crosby (@Tyrellcrosby) January 17, 2017
Coach O got me on another level of sore
— Jake Hanson (@Jake_Hanson72) January 14, 2017
— Real Deal Mcneal (@DarrianMcNeal1) January 17, 2017
I LOVE THE WORK!!!
— 1k 🕊 (@LamarWinstonJr) January 10, 2017
UPDATE (1-18-17): The Oregon Ducks announced last night that new strength coach Irele Oderinde would be suspended for a month without pay after intense offseason workouts sent three players to the hospital late last week. Two players remain hospitalized as of Tuesday night and one was released earlier today. Oderinde had just been officially hired by the school last week.
New head coach Willie Taggart took the blame for the hospitalizations. From The Oregonian:
“As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first,” Taggart said in a news release. The coach said he has visited the athletes at the hospital.
“I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university,” Taggart said. “I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.”
Oderinde will now also report directly to Oregon’s Director of Performance and Sports Science instead of to Taggart. According to the school’s statement, no other players besides Doug Brenner, Sam Poutasi, and Cam McCormick were demonstrating “negative effects,” although the Oregonian reports that a handful of other players also “showed symptoms of a potential exercise-related injury.” Both the school and the paper’s sources agree that the training staff was prepared to aid players if they had immediate trouble with the workout.
Safeguards were in place, multiple sources told The Oregonian/OregonLive on Tuesday: athletic trainers were ready with water on the sideline of the workout, and players were allowed to ask out if needed.