Iowa opened its doors to the media yesterday and let them interview some of the veteran players prior to the Hawkeyes' 5th spring practice. It was the first time that players were available post-Rhabdogate. Shaun Prater, one of the Rhabdo13, openly talked about his bout with rhabdo. The best news is that he has fully recovered, he's healthy, he's back practicing hard (the first four practices were just half-reps but Wednesday's was a full go), and has put the whole thing behind him.

He did provide some additional insight into the potential cause of the rhabdo outbreak. What it boils down to in Prater's mind is over-competitiveness after a 3-week break. The players were all trying to best eachothers' times and trying to set a record for the 100-squat workout (the previous record was 8 minutes). Prater personal goal was to beat that 8-minute mark. Here are some quotes on the possible root cause:
  • "Honestly I think the 3-week layoff"
  • "Possibly we all took it too far"
  • "It's a drill where players are trying to be competitive and break that mark"

Prater also discussed some of the other controversial issues around the outbreak. He addressed Ferentz's absence immediately following the hospitalizations: "I was told he was on the road visiting some recruits. That was a part of business and it was something he had to take care of... It was fine. I think he was taking care of business and he came back as soon as he possibly could." Prater also had positive things to say about Coach Doyle: "I can't tell him that he took it too far. I'm the kind of player who thrives on trying to be the best."

There were other players that opened up about the 100-squat workout and the Rhabdo breakout. Broderick Binns said that "everybody kind of banded together" and that as a team they are smarter and stronger now. Binns also echoed Prater's comments about the competitive nature of the workout.

After reading the official Rhabdo Report released last week, hearing from Coach Ferentz, hearing from the players, hearing from former players, and reading a million other things on Rhabdo...I, in my limited knowledge, think that this was a result of 3 things in conjunction:
  • a very difficult workout
    The 100-squat workout itself wasn't enough to cause the outbreak. However, according to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Iowa's staff misused the exercise. The Rhabdo Report also suggests that at least among the skill position players, that the weight used for the squats may have been a contributing factor. The weight used was 50% of the player's max, but for a lightweight player who had set a pretty high max, the weight used was a large percentage of the player's body weight.
  • the 3-week layoff prior to the workout
    Iowa has done a similar 100-squat workout twice before with no instances of Rhabdo. One key difference between the previous workouts and this one was the timing. The 100-squat exercise was the first workout following a 3-week break. Though I don't think players were completely out of shape after just 3 weeks (Prater said he was doing some exercise during that time), I also don't think they were in the peak condition needed to complete a workout like this.
  • players overexerting themselves as a result of competitiveness
    I don't think players were pushing harder than a usual workout to break record and best one another. However, given the difficult nature of the workout, this probably wasn't the best time to be going over-the-top. Prater said he was trying to beat the 8-minute record. I remember seeing something from DJK about how this workout took him an hour.