Above their paygrade

This is a question I’ve thought about before.

But in college football especially, the strength coaches are typically hired — and fired — by the head coach, with little or no oversight by an athletic administration official…

Christina Specos, a former strength and conditioning coach at Purdue, said she was aware of plenty of instances where strength coaches had been required to dole out punishment to players who had misbehaved, in effect serving as the head coach’s enforcers.

“Strength coaches and other support staff have this pressure to do things the coach’s way because they’re worried about their job security,” Specos said. “They’re just the ‘do’ boy.”

Bob Alejo, the former director of strength and conditioning at North Carolina State, understands that pressure firsthand. In 2017, his contract was not renewed after the basketball coach, Mark Gottfried, was fired.

“You are a little bit beholden,” Alejo said. “I think there’s some conflict of interest. There should be a buffer there.”

Alejo, who also worked for the Oakland Athletics, added: “Asking strength coaches to handle some disciplinary actions, like someone misses a class or is late for practice, and that requires extra push-ups or pull-ups, that somehow along the line has come under our umbrella. It is, in my opinion, a huge mistake. That’s not what we’re here for.”

Mind you, I don’t that’s the case at every school, but when a strength coach assumes the responsibilities we often see, especially in the offseason, is enforcing the head coach’s discipline really something that should be part of his or her job?

24 Comments

Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

24 responses to “Above their paygrade

  1. Hodgie

    Who’s job should it be? I don’t see any problem with this.

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    • I think the Senator’s point is that the reporting relationship between S&C and the coaching staff leads to an inherent conflict of interest. Therefore, you get what you got at Maryland.

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      • Hodgie

        Meh, everyone reports to the hc even the sports medicine people. You think a ruthless hc wouldn’t fire or have the sports medicine people fired if they weren’t aligned with what the hc wants? Point is, good people are gonna do the right thing and bad people aren’t. There needs to be watchdogs for everyone to hold them accountable for sure but the strength coach shills be allowed to do this. It’s part of his job.

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  2. Biggen

    On the other end of the spectrum you have the likes of ol’e Joe Tereshinski Jr who didn’t know a god damn thing about S&C in the modern era.

    Seems like Saban doesn’t have control over this faucet of collegiate athletics yet.

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  3. I don’t have a problem with the S&C guys doling our discipline for misbehavior at the request of the head coach. I think they should report to the head of sports medicine rather than the head coach. At least at that point there’s some independence to be traced directly to S-A well-being, which I thought was the reason for an S&C program: To improve physical performance and to prevent injury.

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    • Hodgie

      Yes, but a true s and c program is also going to develop the other aspects of the player as well.

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      • I don’t see why those “other aspects” would require them to report to the head coach rather than sports medicine.

        If we want football to remain a viable sport at all levels, change is going to be necessary. This change is just one whose time has come. Otherwise, the sport becomes something unattractive (7 on 7) or the sport disappears especially below the professional level.

        You can instill perseverance, teamwork and character without throwing weights at these young men, belittling them or pushing them beyond their physical limits to have them carried off in an ambulance to die from playing a sport.

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        • Hodgie

          I agree with your last paragraph but damn… why not just start with hiring quality people and firing the losers that don the things you illustrated and we have seen recently.

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          • Hodgie

            P.s. I think if we want to remain a viable sport our sport needs to do a better job in hiring more quality people instead of recycling, glorifying and building monuments for many of these arrogant pukes roaming the sidelines.

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            • Russ

              You mean like The Woody Hayes Athletic Complex? Where Corch has painted on the wall about respecting women? You mean we shouldn’t glorify these guys?

              Man, I wish that was the case.

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          • We totally agree on that – hire good people with integrity and things tend to take care of themselves. My only point on the reporting relationship is that the S&C staff can do the coach’s bidding without having to worry about their job security if they don’t agree with the coach’s request.

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  4. UGA '97

    Yep. The S&C coaches are now getting paid more than ever – see Scott Cochran at Alabama. Other coaches are likely bringing the S&C guy disciplinary items, so his role has evolved into the defacto baby sitter. He can infuse additional excercise items into the already custom plan designed for each position player. If all coaches are not tracking or watching these closely then odds of what happened in Maryland go up sadly. These kids have so much on their plate these days, it wouldnt surprise anyone if the transfer rates keep climbing at the same rate as the Athletic capital campaigns. Just follow the TV money.

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  5. Macallanlover

    From what I have read/heard about this incident, I feel there is more at play than just tough guy HC and/or S&C coach. You had the S&C coach and his staff, the HC and his staff, 50/75/100+ players, and dozens of affiliated people that play lesser roles ALL in attendance at this practice, and in a position to watch this unfold. I am assuming the majority of these people are human beings, and have been long before they entered the Maryland campus.

    Even if we assume that 50-60% of those humans are stick-your-head-in-the-sand, don’t speak up on any given situation, folks, that leaves another 50+ people who did not intervene during the incident, or for some 20-30+ minutes of time after it was obvious to all how serious this was. And you did what? Nothing? How can you be like that? Sit and do nothing for just three minutes and see how long of a time that is, and how many options the mind gives you during just 3 minutes…now multiply that times ten.

    I don’t care your role, this was a man close to death, there are ways to call 911, even if you aren’t told to? Scared for your job? Your position on the team? Can you imagine not taking the initiative and doing something for that long? This goes well beyond Durkin and S&C coach, this is an epic fail of humanity. They should all share in the blame, perhaps at a lesser level than others, this inaction was abnormal. And it should trouble them greatly.

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  6. The other Doug

    There needs to be someone who is responsible for player safety and they don’t report to anyone int he Athletic Department.

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    • Absolutely … that person should report to either someone at a university hospital (if there is one), a student health organization, or the university’s chief compliance officer/general counsel.

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  7. 92 grad

    Is t the crux of the situation that the strength coach is allowed unlimited contact time to the players? Therefore, the strength coach is pressured to be the head coach by proxy? So strength, conditioning, weight management, and then they run drills, teach skills, run reps of plays, etc…

    As I understand it, the strength staff is the loophole in the NCAA regulations that restrict on field coaches to 20 hours a week, so the pressure that the on field coaches lay down on the strength staff could be immense, asked to pretty much handle everything that on field coaches need done outside of the 20 hour work week.

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    • If I remember correctly, the 20 hour rule is only an in season requirement. There are other rules that govern activities and time restrictions outside of competition season. Of course, the coaches find a ton of ways to skirt and bend the rules.

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  8. anon

    Look for more “Christina’s” to be hired as S&C coaches by scared shitless AD’s and college presidents.

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  9. W Cobb Dawg

    Anyone who’s seen Cool Hand Luke knows that S&C discipline doesn’t work! Nor did Leach’s attempt at the night in the box treatment. The kid either has the inherent desire or doesn’t. I think it comes down to denying playing time or suspension – if the infraction is serious enough.

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    • Clayton Davis

      I thought the whole Leach “night in the box” thing was just a narrative spun by Craig James’ PR firm?

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