Jan 29, 2015
Staying the Course at Iowa

By Patrick Bohn

Over the course of his 14-year stretch as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Iowa football team, Chris Doyle has experienced many highs and the lows, including a headline-grabbing incident in 2011 when 13 players were hospitalized after suffering rhabdomyolysis after off-season workouts. But as one of just two full-time members of Head Coach Kirk Ferentz’s original staff, he’s stuck with the Hawkeyes and become a program fixture. He recently spoke with the Des Moines Register about his tenure at Iowa.
Doyle joined the Iowa program in 1999, following a one year stint as Director of Strength and Conditioning at the University of Utah. That year, he was named the Big 10 Strength Coach of the Year.

Over the next decade, both Doyle and the Iowa program enjoyed significant success, with the Hawkeyes winning the Big 10 in 2002 and 2004, and getting at least two players selected in every NFL draft except one. But rather than take credit, Doyle said that he couldn’t do it alone, and credited his many assistants over the years for being an integral part of the program.

“When people talk about Chris Doyle, well, this is not a one-man show,” he told the Register. “There have been close to 50 guys on our strength and conditioning staff in some capacity as assistants, as interns. And out of those 50, at least 15 have gone on to run their own programs.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Doyle at Iowa. In 2011, 13 student-athletes were hospitalized after suffering rhabdomyolysis. The incident cast a harsh light on the program, and prompted an investigation from the state’s Board of Regents.

“It was a very difficult time for us,” Doyle told the Register. “When something like that occurs, all you want is for those student-athletes to return safely and without any problems. And fortunately, that was the case with us.

“And yeah, we learned a lot. At the time, there wasn’t a lot of information on rhabdomyolysis. And I really credit the University of Iowa with going out to the forefront and being proactive and studying it.”

Doyle credited the strong relationships he’d developed in the Hawkeye program with helping him get through the crisis.

“Sometimes, when you hit adverse times, you realize how fortunate you are to have the relationships that you do with the people that you work with on a daily basis,” he told the Register.

Overall, although the football program took a few years to turn around, Doyle told the Register he’s glad he stuck by Ferentz and the Iowa program.

“It’s easy to believe in Kirk Ferentz. He’s a hardworking, humble family guy. It’s easy to rally behind him because he provides an example for the staff,” he said. “It’s been a heck of a run.”

Patrick Bohn is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning

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