Ott's moped accident puts scare into his teammates

Pat Harty
Iowa City Press-Citizen
Iowa's Drew Ott tackles Ball State running back Jahwan Edwards

IOWA CITY, Ia. -- Iowa defensive end Nate Meier made a promise to his parents this week.

He is now willing to consider wearing a helmet while riding his moped.

"I told my parents to bring my helmet," Meier said Tuesday.

Meier's parents were concerned about his safety on a moped after learning that fellow Hawkeye defensive end Drew Ott was involved in a scooter accident Monday morning.

Meier, a junior from Tabor, was strongly encouraged by his parents to use more caution while riding his moped, including wearing a helmet.

Police say Ott was riding a moped westbound on Benton Street when he collided with a four-door Buick vehicle that turned in front of him.

Ott, 21, was transported to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics by ambulance with what were described as "non-incapacitating" injuries

"The car basically turned left right in front of the scooter," said Iowa City Police Sgt. Scott Gaarde.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz met with the media on Tuesday and said that Ott, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound junior from Trumbull, Neb., and the reigning Big Ten defensive player of the week, was fortunate to have made it through the accident with just a couple ofstitches.

Ferentz said he spoke with Ott on Monday night and saw him Tuesday morning in the Iowa football complex.

Ott is listed as a starter on this week's depth chart in preparation for Saturday's game against Iowa State at Kinnick Stadium.

"Drew is a tough guy, so I'm sure he got up and just walked away from it," said Iowa senior defensive tackle Carl Davis.

Ferentz doesn't have a rule that forces his players to wear helmets while riding mopeds, which are a common form of transportation for Iowa football players and other student-athletes.

"We don't, but we encourage it like any parent probably would," Ferentz said. "We were talking in the locker room, and I grew up in Pennsylvania. Back in the dark ages they used to have it as a state law that you had to wear a helmet. That would be a great help. I don't know if I'm a real political activist, but it may be something to consider. Though I'm sure we have reasons why we don't."

Ferentz was asked if the Iowa athletic department had the ability to impose a helmet rule.

"Maybe we should furnish them," Ferentz said. "That might be a point of discussion. There is probably a reason why it's not a law. It's probably an individual's choice, but I don't know why seat belts would be a law. It's kind of the same topic. But yeah, I would support that. It's just really hard to mandate that, but I guess we could."

Mopeds are popular among students because they're cheaper to own and to operate than a car and because they're convenient on a busy college campus where parking is a challenge.

"I think anybody that's ever visited our campus and probably most any campuses, parking is a nightmare situation," Ferentz said. "It's not unique to the University of Iowa, but I think parking-ticket people are the most effective organization or efficient people I've ever been around ... we've had our cars towed several times, family cars. So it's just the way it is.

"Campus is typically land-locked and parking is a huge issue, and our campus is no different. So mopeds make a lot of sense. I always marvel at our guys riding around on them in January, February, December months. But parking is a real issue on this campus, so it's a good logistical answer to it."

Senior linebacker Quinton Alston said he sometimes wears a helmet while riding his moped. Ott's accident might convince Alston to wear a helmet more often because Alston is well aware of the risks.

"It's kind of a reminder," Alston said. "But at the same time, you're on a moped, something with two wheels and you're exposed all the time. So you have to be extra cautious when you're on a moped. So it opens your eyes a lot more than just driving in a car. You have to be more conscientious of what's going on around you."