March 02, 2011
In the end, the courtship of massive (and massively hyped) offensive line prospect Cyrus Kouandjio came down to a pair of SEC rivals, Auburn and Alabama, and nearly paralyzed an entire state for four days. First came the Auburn hat on Feb. 2, then the renouncement a few hours later, and finally the signature with the Crimson Tide on Feb. 5. In the meantime, his indecision generated hundreds of phone calls and text messages, thousands of Facebook messages and an unusually fiery flame wars in comment sections, even by Auburn-Alabama standards. A lot of them actually learned to spell "Kouandjio" correctly, even the people who can't be bothered to distinguish between "there," "their" and "they're."
According to a new interview in the Sporting News, though, young Cyrus originally had his sights set far from the South, on Iowa, where former DeMatha (Md.) High teammate Marcus Coker spent his first semester last fall. That is, until Kouandjio visited campus in the midst of an outbreak of a serious muscle condition that would eventually send 13 Iowa players to the hospital. (And forced the nation's college football writers to learn to spell "rhabdomyolysis.") If not for the rhabdo cases, he said, he might have been a Hawkeye (emphasis added):
Q: If you would have had to sign in early fall, who would you have gone with then?
A: At first I really, really, really wanted to go to Iowa. I even told my best friend that I was going to Iowa. But when everything went down with them with the workouts and all, that was different. I had a bad vibe when I went there. Alabama may be far from home, but Iowa—living-style wise—it's just out there and just not me. I wouldn’t have been able to thrive in that environment. I love their coaches and I love their team, but it was really just out for me.
Kouandjio's official visit to Iowa was the weekend of Jan. 22, in the brief window between the lower-body workout that initially waylaid Hawkeye players on Jan. 20 and the mass hospitalization the following Monday. Surprisingly, would-be teammates who were nearly incapacitated by the initial stages of kidney failure didn't make very good ambassadors. Live (everyone did live, thankfully) and learn, I guess.