The Iowa Hawkeyes caused a bit of a stir this week. Not because of recruiting violations or unethical behavior, but because a member of their staff, Chris Doyle, is the highest-paid strength and conditioning coach in the NCAA. He will make $595,000 this year.
Many people, including several college football analysts, expressed outrage over Doyle’s salary, but why? Why do people care about how much money Doyle is making, especially when head coaches are making millions?
“I suppose it’s not the norm,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “It’s probably the obvious reason for that. But I came here 18 years ago, and one of my best experiences in football was as a high school student. I played for two outstanding high school coaches. Joe Moore, that was my coach my senior year, and he ended up being my mentor. I worked for him at the University of Pittsburgh in 1980. We had a great football team and Joe Moore was just a huge part of my life. . . . Coming back here, I was an assistant for nine years. You think about what made us successful in the ’80s under Coach (Hayden) Fry, and you combine all your experiences working for people like Bill Belichick. So coming back here, one of the biggest building blocks that we wanted to build our program on was the area of strength and conditioning. We’re typically not going to be able to out-recruit some of the quote-unquote elite or sexy schools in the country. So our best bet is to try to develop our players and teach them the fundamentals of all positions. It all starts, to me, with the physical part of things.”
It’s also a matter of face time.
“The strength and conditioning coach in college football spends more time with the athletes and the players than any of us do combined,” Ferentz said. “They’re with them year-round. They’re legally, by rule, allowed to work with them year-round. So I’ve always viewed it as Chris’ role in our program is probably more important than mine, quite frankly, because they’re hearing his voice a lot more. So Chris Doyle is not only an exert in the field of strength and conditioning, but his voice is the kind of voice you want your players hearing day after day. I think if you talk to any of our guys – not only guys that went to the NFL, but guys who just had good careers here or maybe didn’t play – but what they learned from him that carries on in life, I think, is just so valuable. I’ve always viewed that role as being every bit as important as anybody in the organization, including myself.”
Ferentz hopes Doyle can help the program to another successful season. Iowa started 12-0 last year before a heartbreaking last-minute 16-13 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship. The Hawkeyes then lost to Stanford, 45-16, in the Rose Bowl to finish 12-2. They enter the season ranked 17th in the country.
“We had a bunch of guys that really took ownership,” Ferentz said of last year’s squad. “They held each other accountable and they cared about each other pretty deeply. We weren’t the most talented team out there, but our team played really well. Pretty much 13 out of our 14 ball games, they prepared well and competed. If you do that, you give yourself a chance to have success.”