After three Oregon football players were hospitalized following the start of offseason workouts, strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde has been suspended for one month without pay.
Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick were all taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center after a series of grueling workouts. Brenner was released Tuesday, and as of last night, Poutasi and McCormick were still in the hospital, but both are listed in good condition.
The workout reportedly consisted of push-ups, squats, sit-ups and planks. It was compared to military training as the workout was required to be performed on an up-down fashion. If a player could not finish the series of exercises properly, they were required to start over. Some players took as long as an hour before being able to complete the workout. However, safety precautions were put in place as water was provided and players were allowed to ask to stop the workout if they felt they could not complete it safely.
Head coach Willie Taggart issued the following statement about the issue:
“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies. 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.”
While Taggart and Oderinde took full responsibility for the incident, Oregon players were whistling a different tune on social media.
Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington blamed the media for their reporting on the situation:
I tell you that MEDIA STAY TRYNNA MAKE PPL LOOK BAD ! ♂️ ♂️ I completely understand @MarshawnLynch24— INDEPENDENT1deepDC (@dcisaballa24_7) January 18, 2017
According to a report in the Register-Guard, Carrington also tweeted “How do suspend a man for three players being out of shape? All I can say is wow!” It looks like that tweet has since been deleted.
Cornerback Mattrell McGraw pointed out how only a few players had issues with the workouts:
3 out of a 112 players .. it's not 90 or 100 .. what about the 109 that's still working ?!— Button (@mattmcgraw_) January 17, 2017
McGraw then tweeted “FreeCoachO,” in his support of the man who he called the best strength coach he’s ever had.
Players at South Florida who worked out with Oderinde also took the coach’s side. Former USF offensive lineman Mak Djulbegovic said that Oderinde would never make a player do something unreasonable and that it is the player’s responsibility to take the right steps to be ready for the workout.
Jim Radcliffe, who was the team’s strength coach for the last three decades before Oderinde was hired, will take over duties on an interim basis.
Going forward, Oregon’s strength coach will no longer report to Willie Taggart, but to Andrew Murray, Oregon’s director of performance and sports science.