FNF Coaches Talk — A Strength Coach’s Impact, NCAA’s Rule on Recruiting, Nick Saban on Freddie Kitchens

FNF Coaches Talk

Good afternoon, Coaches. Thanks for coming back to FNF Coaches. We’ve picked out three stories for your reading please.

1. Jacked Up: Why Strength Coaches Are the Heart and Soul of Modern College Football (Sports Illustrated)

In today’s college football, a strength assistant is the most important hire that a head coach makes. He matters more than either coordinator because he spends more time with players than any other staff member. The NCAA strictly limits how much contact head and position coaches can have with players, but there are fewer restrictions on strength coaches, who run workouts almost year-round. Many of these workouts are officially voluntary, but coaches tend to say “voluntary” with a wide smile and roll of the eyes.

From the start of August practices through the season’s last game, strength coaches have the same access to players as do other staff members. But it’s in the offseason where their value escalates: While other coaches are limited to two hours per week with players, they’re allowed eight.

Strength coaches must balance the duty to produce a winner—to push those bodies to their limits—with a duty to protect the safety and well-being of the 100-odd players on their rosters. We all remember the story out of Maryland last football season. No strength coach wants to see a player get injured — or worse — on his watch.

Great strength coaches also follow the science, and they have a little Thomas Edison in them. For instance, there’s a $12,000 exercise machine that Feld likes—it utilizes a belt around the waist and a well beneath the foot plate to allow lifters to get the benefit of a squat without carrying the weight on their backs. It’s especially helpful for players with back injuries, or for targeting the muscles below the waist.

What is your process for hiring a strength coach and streamlining the program to fit your scheme and values?

2. College Scholarships for Middle Schoolers? N.C.A.A. Plans Vote to Limit Early Recruiting (The New York Times)

Here’s a trend that very few high school coaches like: In what has become a common tactic in football and other sports, middle-schoolers are pressured by coaches offering full athletic scholarships to commit early.

Sometimes, the offer comes with a take-it-or-leave-it deadline.

Well, if you’re nodding your head and saying, “Good, the NCAA needs to limit early recruiting,” we’ve got bad news for you. The NCAA’s new rule won’t apply to football.

Now, a coalition of administrators, coaches, faculty and students have banded together to fight back against such early recruiting, and this month the N.C.A.A. is poised to prohibit early recruiting in most college sports. High-profile sports like football and basketball would be excluded.

The reason for the exclusion of football doesn’t make much sense to us.

Football, basketball, baseball and ice hockey would be excluded from the new guidelines because of the professional contract opportunities recruits in those sports are sometimes considering in addition to attending college, council members said. College coaches asked for the ability to communicate with the athletes as those options are being weighed.

What professional opportunities in football exist for players right out of high school? Anyway, let us know what you think of this story.

How would you feel about the NCAA restricting communication between college coaches and recruits until the end of the players’ sophomore year?

3. Nick Saban shares a lesson learned from Freddie Kitchens: “We all have about five choices in our life…” (BamaInsider.com)

This is a worthwhile clip of Nick Saban talking about a speech from Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens at his Alabama coaches clinic that left an impression on him. It’s about making a choice to maximize your God-given talent by being elite at that one thing you choose to explore.

In what ways can you improve to take your coaching to an elite level next season?

What’s driving the conversation in your locker room? Email Managing Editor Dan Guttenplan or Tweet us @fnfcoaches. Don’t forget to use that hashtag #FNFCoachesTalk!