There is no such thing as an Iowa running back curse

But it's been a really weird cycle the last few years

Mike Hlas
Published: March 29 2012 | 10:12 pm - Updated: 3 April 2014 | 2:59 pm in
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There are no such things as curses, jinxes, hexes. You can't get bad luck from a black cat running in front of your path, unless it has a lighted stick of dynamite in its mouth. That would be very bad luck.

Stevie Wonder said it well: When you believe in things that you don't understand, then you suffer. Superstition ain't the way.

I know you agree with me. I know you trust in science and logic, and don't believe in the supernatural. But the word "curse" has been thrown about a lot over the last couple years when it comes to Iowa and running backs. It seemingly has gotten worse than the way Spinal Tap kept losing drummers, but look at the bright side. No Hawkeye running back has spontaneously combusted. Yet.

Let's pause here to seriously state injuries are nothing to joke about. The fact (former) No. 1 Iowa running back Jordan Canzeri suffered a knee injury in practice Wednesday and had an MRI taken Thursday isn't the least bit comical. Nor was the news Canzeri has a torn ACL.

What it is, though, is just so bizarre. After all that has caused Hawkeye RBs to leave the lineup, and in many cases, the school, now here comes an injury to one in spring ball in a non-contact drill.

That just adds to the unfortunate run of events that have been associated with Iowa running backs since Shonn Greene had his monstrous season in 2008.

Marcus Coker: The Offensive MVP in the 2010 Insight Bowl went from 1,384 rushing yards in his 2011 sophomore season to violating the school's student-athlete code of conduct and getting suspended for the 2011 Insight Bowl, to leaving the program.

Mik'ail McCall: Carried the ball 9 times for 61 yards in Iowa's 2011 season-opener against Tennessee Tech before breaking his ankle. He returned later in the season, but did nothing of note other than get suspended for reasons that were never made clear. He left the program after the season.

Adam Robinson: A big sophomore season in 2010 (regular-season, anyhow) that included 941 rushing yards, to getting suspended, to getting arrested in Des Moines, to getting dismissed from the program.

Jewel Hampton: A nice freshman season backing up Greene in 2008, then a knee injury that cost him the 2009 season, then another season-ending knee injury two games into the 2010 schedule. He left the program in December 2010.

Brandon Wegher: Had a very nice freshman season in 2009, rushing for 641 yards and scoring eight touchdowns. He never played another down for Iowa, leaving the program on his own shortly before the 2011 season began. He has been arrested twice since last October.

Those are just the highlights, or more accurately, lowlights. I'm almost skipping right past Jeff Brinson (foot injury, had just one carry in 2009, transferred to Central Florida) and Rodney Coe (touted recruit who committed to Iowa, but didn't qualify academically). And I'm not going all the way back to 2004 when Iowa lost four running backs to knee injuries and started a walk-on named Sam Brownlee started at that position.

Those were some really good players, folks.

That's a rather overwhelming amount of devastation to a key position in a 3-year span. But a curse? Absolutely not. They don't exist. You know it, but you probably should say it to yourself. It's easy to start slipping over onto the side of the crazy, where facts get replaced with fiction and the world is flat, not round.

Sophomores-to-be Damon Bullock and De'Andre Johnson, fullback Brad Rogers, and incoming freshmen Greg Garmon and Barkley Hill have nothing to fear. My advice to them is to just put their heads down and square their shoulders after they take handoffs, and to keep those legs churning. Also, listen to your coaches, take your vitamins, go to your classes, stay off the streets at night, and think cool thoughts.

So wish Canzeri the best in recovering, and listen to Wednesday's words of Iowa running backs coach Lester Erb:

Damon Bullock has really jumped around, found a home now at the tailback position and he's doing a nice job. And then De'Andre Johnson is another guy that has an awful lot of talent and he's really going to be competing for the job here in the spring.

As you know we have two young tailbacks coming in in the fall in August in Greg Garmon out of Erie, Pennsylvania and Barkley Hill out of Cedar Falls. We'll be excited to get those guys up and running around here come fall camp.

That was said a couple hours before Canzeri got hurt. Now it's "Next Man In." In March.

Iowa's final spring practice, which is open to the public on April 14, could be the first one in football history where fans of a team yell this to their own running backs:

"SLOW DOWN!"

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