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Bulls alumni defend former strength coach

Former USF defensive lineman Todd Chandler said he recalls no Bulls player requiriing hospitalization after an offseason conditioning workout.

Times file photo

Former USF defensive lineman Todd Chandler said he recalls no Bulls player requiriing hospitalization after an offseason conditioning workout.

17

January

Since reports surfaced late Monday about three Oregon football players being hospitalized following a strength-and-conditioning workout, opinions have flown like cyberspace projectiles.

Some are blunt and benign, others pointed and provocative.

And still others -- such as Todd Chandler's -- are borne of firsthand experience.

"When I actually sat around and thought about it, talked to a couple of my teammates...what it all boils down to is a lack of preparation," USF's former nose tackle said. "(The hospitalized kids) weren't prepared for the workout."

Chandler is among dozens of Bulls alumni who endured presumably the same offseason regimen that suddenly has sparked national controversy. While it remains unclear who was overseeing the Oregon drills, this much is known: Former Bulls strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde has the same job under Willie Taggart at UO.

Those former USF players reached Tuesday by the Tampa Bay Times say no Oderinde workout ever resulted in a Bulls player being hospitalized.

"Of course not," Chandler said.

But they do agree the drills were excruciating, and demanded precision. Rest and proper hydration beforehand were prerequisites.

The news from Oregon "sounds really, really bad, but at the end of the day (Oderinde's) not gonna make you do something that's not reasonable," former Bulls RT Mak Djulbegovic said.

"Sure, it'll be very difficult, but if you don't take the right steps to be ready for these things, you might wind up in the hospital as these kids found out. Hopefully they learned their lesson."

The Oregonian, which broke the news of the player hospitalizations, reported the Ducks workouts were "described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs."

Chandler, who finished his career in 2014, said that sounded familiar.

"I remember if we messed up, or if a guy was late, or if everybody didn't do the up-downs correctly...you've got to start 'em all the way over," recalled Chandler, who now works at an alternative school in Seffner.

"I remember one day we actually did almost 200 up-downs, but all that does is just instill discipline. That gets everybody on one accord, that makes it a team atmosphere where everybody trusts the next man that he's gonna do his job."

Former Bulls walk-on QB/WR Tommy Eveld said Oderinde's attention to detail was a direct reflection of Taggart.

"If he made 'em do up-downs for an hour straight (at Oregon), it might have had something to do with somebody wasn't doing them the way he expected, and he just made them keep going until the whole team was doing 'em right together," said Eveld, who spent two years (2013 and '14) in the football program before opting for a baseball career.

"Coach O held us to the standards that Coach Taggart held us to. The program that Coach Taggart runs is very specific to attention to detail."

Moreover, ample rest periods -- and water -- were afforded participants during the workouts.

"Absolutely," Djulbegovic said.

Eveld recalled some workouts consisting of "stations" featuring five to 10 minutes of a demanding exercise. More than one group usually was assigned to one station, Eveld said, allowing players to rest or grab water while waiting for another group to finish.

And anyone who did lag was likely to be sent home by Oderinde well before requiring hospitalization, Chandler said.

"Coach O is a good dude, too," Eveld said. "He wouldn't run you into the ground and put you in the hospital."

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 7:37pm]

    

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