Strength and conditioning coaches used to be an afterthought in college football programs. Now they are well known and as well respected as coordinators.
The changing landscape in football has led teams to focus on player development more than ever before. These 10 schools specifically have picked up the banner and led the charge as the edge is no longer the X’s and O’s of the game, but which program is more fit for the contest.
No huddle offenses have increased the need for solid conditioning programs, and as the gap slowly closes from college to the pros improved strength programs have been on the rise. This is a look at the top groups in the country.
Nebraska is known for its tough football, and the strength and conditioning program is how this team is so nasty.
The Cornhuskers have been helping the landscape evolve for years and claim the “nation’s best” strength and conditioning program (h/t Nebraska Athletics).
Nebraska began the trend of college strength program development in the late 1960s, and moved to a state of the art facility in 2006. This program will always be a groundbreaker on the strength and conditioning scene.
The Florida Gators have been on the rise in college football for the past few decades and a lot of that growth has come from the strength training program.
Jeff Dillman has taken over the program for the Gators coming from the IMG Institute. He is a leader in the strength and conditioning game and will continue to develop the reputation already in place at Florida.
The Gators have elite talent and elite facilities to go along with it.
LSU football is always one of the most physical in football. It has some of the nation’s best facilities and a great strength coach in Tommy Moffitt.
He is a tough motivator and is willing to push his players to the limits in training sessions. To win in the SEC you have to be tough, and the Tigers program produces some of the toughest players in the country.
Moffitt has run this program since 2000, putting a number of national title contenders on the field. With Moffitt running drills, the Tigers will always contend in the SEC.
Hokies football is known for defense and explosive special teams. Since the late 1980s Frank Beamer has built a tough program that is always willing to hit hard and drive through a ball-carrier.
The Hokies use a 10,000-square-foot facility to wear down their players, and they have constantly remained on the cutting edge of speed and strength development.
Mike Gentry has served as the strength coach for 22 years, and ever since he took over the program, they have been among the nation’s elite.
Ohio State is a leader in the Big Ten for a reason.
Its players are among the fastest and the strongest in the country.
This program is run with efficiency, and with Urban Meyer taking over the program over the past year, it will continue to grow as one of the nation’s best. The line play for Ohio State is remarkable, and that is where the strength program pays the most dividends.
The Buckeyes are searching for a title under Meyer, and the strength program is the way that they will get there.
Jeff Madden has led the Longhorns strength and conditioning program for 15 years.
Along the way he has been inducted into the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame (June 2003) and was the president of the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association.
Texas has some of the country’s best coaches lining the sidelines helping develop its players. This program will always be a contender with Madden and his staff overseeing development.
The Wolverines have returned to the elite in the Big Ten over the past few years under head coach Brady Hoke, but there has been an obvious difference in the approach to workouts that has changed this program for the better.
When Hoke arrived, he brought in new strength coach Aaron Wellman and hired a number of new support staff members.
Along the way, this team has developed into a dangerous group heading into 2013.
Oregon has become the country’s fastest team virtually overnight, and a large thanks can be given to the strength and conditioning program.
The facilities are among the best in the college game thanks to alumnus Phil Knight. Jim Radcliffe runs the program and has been with the school for 26 years.
He is an innovator in speed development, and his teams have shown that growth over the past few seasons as the fastest group of athletes in college sports.
You don’t produce the nation’s best talent without a cutting-edge strength training program. That’s exactly what the Trojans have.
The school has a huge state-of-the-art workout facility and one of the best minds in the game with Aaron Ausmus leading workouts.
Strength has always been a focus, but now speed is becoming a major factor for this program. The Trojans are one of the developmental programs when it comes to new ideas, and that has led to a major edge on the gridiron every year.
The Alabama Crimson Tide have become the best program in the country for a number of reasons, but Scott Cochran is one of the most underrated pieces of the success.
Cochran is a fiery leader that is the Tide’s strength and conditioning coach.
He has put together a program that consistently produces top NFL talent and one that dominates the college football landscape every year.
With Cochran leading workouts and the some of the best facilities in the game, Alabama is a leader in strength and conditioning every year.