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ESPN pundits flame Iowa Football for “over-paying” Chris Doyle

Doyle is the highest paid strength and conditioning coach in the NCAA... But he’s not overpaid.

NCAA Football: Big Ten Championship-Iowa vs Michigan State Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, so unless you’ve been living under a rock (or aren’t on Twitter), you’ve seen the clip from ESPN’s “experts” talking about the Hawks’ strength and conditioning coach, Chris Doyle, becoming the highest paid S&C coach in the nation. In case you haven’t seen it (or want to get angry all over again), here it is for your distaste.

DAMMIT, NOW I’M ANGRY SO LET’S GO. Excuse me while I ramble a bit, then after I discuss this video, I’ll calm down and get to some more insightful and less angry subject matter.

First off, that smug look on Booger McFarland’s face (on the right) makes me FURIOUS, even moreso than the stupid comments that these two make. Just sitting there, grinning and exclaiming “yes!!!” at all the nonsense that comes out of Desmond Howard’s mouth. Knock it off, man. And before that, Howard’s loud, obnoxious cackle. UGH. STOP, PLEASE. Anyway, I just needed to vent my frustrations on the non-verbal things that infuriated me before I touched on the real topic at hand. Wow, I feel better already!

Let’s start at the top. The clip starts with Desmond Howard basically explaining that a S&C coach gets to communicate with the players year round, that the coach “helps to build the armor that’ll take you through the season,” etc. He also notes that $600,000 is “a lot of paper” to pay someone. Really, these first comments he makes don’t make me feel any sort of way. $600,000 dollars is more than half a million dollars, that is a lot of money. Whatever. I’ll skip past this part because nothing really happens here.

Booger McFarland takes center stage next. He talks about Alabama and how they’re so great and blah blah blah SEC Bama Roll Tide Nick Saban National Championships whatever. Then he starts the bashing. “Now the strength coach at Iowa? I ain’t quite sure he’s worth it just yet.” OH EXCUSE ME, SIR, I DIDN’T REALIZE THAT IT TOOK OVER 18 YEARS TO FIGURE OUT IF SOMEONE WAS WORTH IT. What more does he need to do, be there another ten before Iowa decides whether or not he’s worth it?? Boy, my blood is starting to boil again...

McFarland: “They faded down the stretch, that is a product of the strength and conditioning coach.” Well, yeah, they did have a few injuries that hurt the team’s depth. But I don’t think that an ACL injury to Drew Ott was going to be prevented by an S&C coach. Nor do I think a sports hernia really could’ve been helped by Doyle, either. After that, it mostly comes down to the depth at these positions. The Hawkeyes, who won their first 12 games of the season, by the way, “faded” in one game. The last game. But I guess it’s Chris Doyle’s fault that the team went up against a Stanford team that was much better and much more prepared than Iowa. Right, Booger?

AND THEN, FINALLY, DAVID POLLACK COMES TO SAVE THE DAY. Sort of. “You act like we’re dealing with apples-to-apples. Give that Iowa guy some of those full grown men that are coming in with those five stars...” Thanks, David, for pointing out that Iowa doesn’t get those five stars. But since you couldn’t get Booger to stop, my new favorite TV personality Samantha Ponder swoops in to defend your honor.

Ponder: “It’s even more important at Iowa because they’re getting guys who are walk-ons and turning them into NFL players. I think they’ve had six or seven guys in the last 10 or 15 years who have been drafted that were walk-ons.” YES, THANK YOU SAM FOR BEING THE ONE TO FINALLY AT LEAST ATTEMPT TO USE SOME FACTS TO DEFEND YOUR ARGUMENT. Iowa doesn’t recruit all the 5-stars that programs like Alabama or Ohio State get, AND they turn walk-ons into NFL caliber players? Sounds like Chris Doyle is pretty good at his job, no?

And then my hatred for this clip reaches its peak at the end. Howard cites the Big Ten Championship game as the reason that Chris Doyle isn’t good enough at his job and the infamous 9+ minute, 82-yard drive as a way to show that the Hawkeyes faded down the stretch. Well excuse me, if just barely allowing a touchdown by a couple inches after holding a team back for nine minutes in a championship game is “fading down the stretch,” then I’m not sure how I would describe this, Desmond.

Harbaugh teams fade down the stretch really early in the season. Their very highly paid coach should have been able to stop this, right? Maybe he needs to prove more to us before Michigan pays him as much as they are. Ugh. I just can’t believe that a team with such a highly paid coach would ever send his team into battle without preparing the long-snapper enough. Such a big stage, on national television, and you want to pay this guy?

Alright. I’m back, guys. I blacked out from rage somewhere in the midst of all that typing and I’m not sure where we are but there’s a line separating this paragraph from the previous handful so that must mean that it’s time for me to try to be insightful.

Chris Doyle is a great coach. Iowa doesn’t recruit as well as the likes of Ohio State and Alabama, and they don’t have the name brand in order to pry kids away from schools like Texas and Michigan. It’s just easier for those schools, generally speaking. They have the potential to get 5-star recruits with regularity because of their histories, and if you don’t think that Iowa would kill to recruit the same players as them, then I think you’re crazy. But that’s why it’s obvious that Doyle is such a great coach, because Iowa is competitive year-in and year-out (2012 didn’t happen) even though they don’t get the same recruits as these programs.

Howard, after being viciously attacked by Hawkeye fans on the internet, recanted his statement about the Big Ten Championship and instead shifted his focus to the Rose Bowl performance. But really, how does that even mean anything in the grand scheme of this conversation? How could one think that Iowa’s implosion in that game was the fault of the strength and conditioning coach? To cite that is lazy research. Iowa went into that game unprepared, yeah. Stanford was probably better than them, too. Christian McCaffrey was at least. And you want to blame that on the strength and conditioning coach, and not on the coordinators or head coach? Seems like a reach to me.

There are only 15 schools that have more NFL players than the Iowa Hawkeyes. Out of those 15, 10 of them are schools from the South, and one is USC, which probably doesn’t need much help recruiting players to sunny California. Iowa also has more players in the NFL than esteemed programs such as Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, and Tennessee. These schools have the ability to at least compete for 5-star players based off of reputation (although it may be harder these days for PSU), and Iowa still outperforms them when it comes to their players reaching the NFL. Doyle helps build up these players who are less celebrated coming out of high school because of things like “being undersized.” Think of players like James Morris, who is currently fighting for a spot with the Dallas Cowboys. He came into school undersized, and is still technically a bit small for a linebacker because of his height, but Doyle definitely deserves a lot of credit for being able to help him take the next step. In most programs, a player like Morris wouldn’t even be getting consideration in the NFL, but Doyle helped turn him into a physical specimen.

A tweet by StoopsMyAss had a good point, too:

This is GREAT company to be in. Ohio State, who has performed exceptionally well under Urban Meyer (and as previously mentioned, has that recruiting magic); Oregon, which can attract star athletes to their school with sick jerseys and, well, the fact that Oregon just seems so damn cool; Notre Dame, which hasn’t really been able to stay relevant for a long time, but has the pedigree to bring in 4 and 5-star recruits; and Stanford, which Jim Harbaugh turned into a force, can tout academics and a strong foundation for a football program to entice high-caliber athletes.

Iowa? 2-star nation, right? A couple 4-star players here and there, but made up from a majority of 3-star athletes and under. Iowa develops these players. Doyle is a big part of that. Maybe even the biggest part. He and Ferentz have been at Iowa since the beginning of time (in football years), and together, they’ve created a pipeline of unnoticed and under-recruited players to the NFL. Players have taken notice. The athletic department has taken notice. It’s the Iowa Edge. And you don’t have to take my word for it. I’ll leave you with these tweets from former Hawkeyes.

Oh, and last but not least: Doyle helped a young man do this... Priceless.

Greenwood walk