CLIVE — Kirk Ferentz first got the idea in late January. The topic was the inaugural assistant coach of the year award.
You know where this is headed.
Iowa became immersed in the aftermath of the rhabdomyolysis outbreak that sent 13 players to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after a strenuous workout in late January.
The outbreak, which a UI investigation later concluded had no root cause, happened under the watch of strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle, who bore the brunt of the waves of national criticism.
Tuesday night, Ferentz said a lot of the lessons players learn start with the strength and conditioning program and then announced to the Polk County I-Club that Doyle was Iowa’s most valuable coach of the year.
Doyle, who declined an interview request, accepted to a standing ovation and loud cheers. He also spoke publiclly for the first time since the rhabdo outbreak.
“We went through some well-documented difficult times this past offseason,” Doyle said. “Sometimes when we face adversity, you really find out what you’re made out of.
“The strength of the Iowa program is in the people, the character and community that has been developed under coach Ferentz and his leadership. That’s where it starts, with Kirk. He does his best stuff when there are tough times. That’s when you see Kirk’s best stuff, you see his best grit. That was certainly the case here.”
Doyle also thanked UI President Sally Mason and athletics director Gary Barta. He also spoke about the families involved in the rhabdo outbreak.
“Most importantly, the athletes’ families who were involved this past winter, their character, their strength,” Doyle said. “There’s a lot we can learn from this and move forward from there.
“We know we have an obligation to the people of the state of Iowa to come to work everyday and build a program that represents this state and the people in it the way they’d want it run. And we’re going to continue to do that.”