NSCA’s Coaching Podcast, Episode 73: Jeff Connors

by Scott Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, RSCC*D and Jeff Connors, CSCS, RSCC*E
Coaching Podcast March 2020


Jeff Connors, who retired after a staggering 31-year collegiate coaching career, talks to the former NSCA Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Scott Caulfield, about being a servant to athletes and contributing to their lives. Topics under discussion include “surviving” head coaching changes, learning from others in the field, and using his coaching experiences to write books.

Show Notes

“I've been always trying to learn, and I've always tried to attach myself, or fly across country and find people smarter than me, which is not real hard to do. So that's how I endeavored to become smarter, is by associating myself with the best.” 16:44

“So I try to learn year to year. I try to develop a good reputation to where I would be retained. I try to outwork people. I think there's something to be said for a work ethic.” 17:17

“I've never been real concerned with trying to please the football coach over what I believed. I was always flexible and I always listened, but I always considered myself to be the professional. And so I would try to educate football coaches.” 18:08

“I believe that you are serving people as a strength and conditioning coach, trying to improve their lives, trying to contribute to their lives, where they're successful throughout the course of their lives because of the experience they have with you and their collegiate experience.” 22:50


[00:00:00.00] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:00:00.75] Welcome to the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, episode 73.

[00:00:04.95] I believe that you are serving people as a strength and conditioning coach, trying to improve their lives, trying to contribute to their lives where they're successful throughout the course of their lives, because of the experience they have with you.

[00:00:18.69] This is the NSCA's Coaching Podcast, where we talk to strength and conditioning coaches about what you really need to know, but probably didn't learn in school. There's strength and conditioning, and then there's everything else.

[00:00:29.70] Welcome to the NSCA Coaching Podcast. This is Scott Caulfield here in Washington DC, 2019 national conference. Today my guest, who I've been trying to get on this for a couple of years now-- we've been missing each other, so we finally caught up-- Jeff Connors, retired collegiate coach, and currently at Vidant Wellness in Greenville, North Carolina. We'll let him talk about that. Coach, welcome to the show.

[00:00:52.48] Thanks a lot, great to be here.

[00:00:53.67] Yeah, excited we finally got the thing nailed down, man. I know we're been talking about it for a couple of years.

[00:00:57.62] Absolutely.

[00:00:59.07] All right. I'm getting better at this interviewing stuff, so I think it's probably better that I got you now than before.

[00:01:06.12] [LAUGHTER]

[00:01:08.19] Sounds good.

[00:01:08.50] And you're speaking at this thing too. We've got you speaking.

[00:01:11.82] Right.

[00:01:12.09] Maybe tell us what we're going to talk about today?

[00:01:16.87] Well, basically, what I'm going to talk about is entitled Training Athletes That Sprint, Jump, and Change Direction. So really not talking about swimmers or golfers, or even offensive linemen. We're talking about what I've had a passion for many, many years, and that's speed and movement, and strength training in relationship to that, targeting the muscle groups that overcome inertia and those types of good things. And so I'm going to be talking about really, two sides of a continuum, building the engine, and then transitioning into a more explosive type of regime, whereby you're trying to move the neuromuscular system, advance the neuromuscular system as far as you can with that type of training, and once you've built that good engine, strengthening those muscle groups that are required to do that.

[00:02:20.02] So that's the gist of what I'm going to be talking about, moving from a four-day program. Used a lot of four day programs over the years, but I've transitioned into a three-day program. What I'm talking about is a 12-week program. I'm so happy that I can get back to that now, 12 and 16 week programs.

[00:02:39.48] Having to fit everything into all of the NCAA-- I guess you could say restrictions, six to eight week training cycles, and part of that being voluntary. And I'm happy to train athletes now with a 12-week program, which I really believe in. Because I think you need three four-week rotations, and then moving more toward a three-day program with light work in between on Tuesday, Thursday, moderate lactate production, and stimulating human growth hormone with that type of approach, and hitting it hard on those three days, and really having max effort speed days on the three primary days, and possibly, a little tempo running on the other two days.

[00:03:25.92] That's what I'm transitioning into. I'm going to talk about how I've used track sprint and jump coaches over the year as mentors, and the reasons for that. And really, I think that's helped me sustain a job since 1988, and really significantly improve movement and linear speed. And I feel really good about those types of things. But not only that, but the strength training that accompanies that-- specifically with football over the years, I think I've had some pretty good success with that.

[00:04:07.16] Yeah, and you made a good reference to 1988. We were just talking, you know? And to the end of this month, you collected a steady paycheck as a collegiate strength and conditioning coach from 1988 to 2019. So listeners can do the math on that. But yeah, why don't you tell us about-- because, obviously, all this programming stuff has been crafted and perfected over these decades. But yeah, give us a little bit of background. I know also, you have an interesting path into the strength and conditioning field. So yeah, maybe talk about first how you even first got interested in it and realized it could be a career path.

[00:04:48.51] So then after a certain period of time and police work, I had an opportunity to go back to Tennessee and actually coach football and run a Nautilus training facility, and also get involved in power lifting in the state of Tennessee. So straight into police work, back to Tennessee, where I had met-- long story here-- but I met my first wife on the beach in Daytona one spring break, and that's what brought me to the state of Tennessee.

[00:05:26.80] Nice!

[00:05:27.74] So basically, entered a few powerlifting meets there and coached football, and I got to know Doc Kreis a little bit. Because I went out there and got in a couple meets at Vandy, and got to know some of the power lifters across the state of Tennessee. And so that was an interesting experience. It gave me a lot of practical experience in relationship to how to continue to develop strength.

[00:05:54.21] And also, of course, being involved with Nautilus and a Nautilus training facility. We look at all this research now, and what we're going back to with eccentric isometric training. This goes back a long, long way with the Nautilus training with negative accentuated negative only. Every Saturday, I had a couple of training partners. We went in there and tried to murder each other with eccentric training, and so that goes back a long way. And now you can look at the research now with improving the length of sarcomeres in series and in fascia length, and then that in turn also helping with increasing concentric power. But again, I think we've known about this for a while.

[00:06:46.58] Right.

[00:06:47.81] And so things kind of run in cycles. But you don't even see-- I can't even find an old piece of Nautilus anywhere. It's like an antique.

[00:06:56.64] Yeah, they're in museums.

[00:06:58.84] Yeah. If you find one, it's like a goal. You're like, yeah, oh yeah! I remember this one! Pullover--

[00:07:06.14] Right, and the super sets and so forth. And then, of course, the whole objective was to try to make people puke. And if you go back to all the HIT guys back in that era-- Ken Mannie and those guys, and all the debates that were going on with free weights and machines-- it's really been a kind of an interesting evolution in our profession.

[00:07:33.17] Yeah, no, and being in the trenches that long, you've definitely seen it all. And it is funny, because I was just at the Stark museum there in Austin a couple weeks ago. And they've got implements and books and magazines from 1800s to early 1900s. And they're talking about all the same stuff that we're talking about. They were talking about fasting. They were talking about getting enough sleep. They were talking about high intensity training, and all of this stuff that some people would make it seem like this is the first time we've ever seen it or heard about it, which is pretty funny too.

[00:08:13.25] Well, when I met Walt Evans, who was training the Steelers-- he was Steelers' strength coach many years ago. And Walt and I became friends, and he asked me if I wanted to go out to York Barbell when they were making some type of transition. And we went up in the attic and collected a whole bunch of memorabilia. So basically, I actually have I think one set of Strength and Health magazines from maybe 1942 that haven't been opened yet. I've probably got another 30 magazines from different years. But you go back and read that stuff, and it's kind of amazing, because things come full circle. They really do.

[00:08:55.79] Yeah. And kind of speaking about full circle too-- you spent close to two decades at East Carolina strength coaching in a split shift, basically.

[00:09:06.86] Right.

[00:09:07.74] And I don't know that that happens that often, wherein someone ends up going back to that school. I'm sure it does sometimes. But yeah, maybe talk about those years there, and going to UNC and coming back to ECU.

[00:09:20.59] Well, I've been very fortunate throughout my career. I was at Bucknell. I had the opportunity to go to East Carolina through a good friend of mine. I made a connection with Ronnie Jones who was the strength coach with the Eagles then. Good friends with Steve Logan at East Carolina, who was the offensive coordinator there under Bill Lewis. Honestly, I had not even heard of East Carolina University before, and I had it mixed up with Western Carolina. Because they had the same colors, and when I was a TMI Academy, we played Western.

[00:09:52.46] And so I had an opportunity to interview for that job. Accepted the position after three years at Bucknell. Studying various types of things at Bucknell. I was even going to get my high school principal certificate. Because education's always been very important to me. It's something I've always been interested in.

[00:10:12.80] And so I took the job at ECU under Bill Lewis. We were 11 and 1 the first year, won the Peach Bowl, beat NC State. It was a great year, a great time to come to East Carolina. And then I stayed with Steve Logan, and Steve became the all-time winningest coach there during the time that we were there. I think he stayed one or two more years after I left and went to Carolina.

[00:10:38.42] Steve, of course was, fired. You're the all-time winningest coach, but then you get fired because you have a couple of bad years, which is the way this profession rolls. So it was good timing for me to go to Carolina with John Bunting. After six years, he was relieved of his duties, so another transition.

[00:10:59.72] Butch Davis came in. I had interviewed with Butch Davis at Miami. He did offer me that job when I was at East Carolina. But a couple reasons I didn't go. And then when Butch came in, I didn't think he'd retain me, because I had turned down a previous job that he had offered me.

[00:11:17.33] Chuck Pagano came with him. I knew Chuck for a long time. And I think Chuck convinced him to keep me. I was going to go to BC with Jeff Jagodzinski. But Butch offered me the job to stay at Carolina. So that was a great experience with him. Butch is an amazing coach. But the way things went, there were some issues there. And I went ahead and left and went to East Carolina. And then the next year, they fired Butch, and so another great move for me.

[00:11:55.63] [LAUGHTER]

[00:11:56.51] So when I came to East Carolina, we had an agreement that I did not want to be directly connected to the football coach, if that was at all possible, and I wanted to just run my department and be evaluated based upon that. And I think that was the situation with the first AD. That AD left after a couple years. Another AD came in. We had another transition where they fired Ruffin McNeill and Scottie Montgomery came in. And Scottie did not have very much success the last three years.

[00:12:33.77] And so it was really kind of time for me, I felt-- I came in with another transition. But I really felt, also, that it was kind of time for me to make a move after 31 years. And the last six months has been great, kind of like a sabbatical. Because I was owed about 3,400 hours of sick leave and vacation time as well.

[00:12:59.64] Nice!

[00:13:01.36] I've gotten about eight or 10 hours sleep, trained twice a day, worked on my personal health and well-being for a change, and my relationship with my wife. And so it's been great. Been working on my golf game, and then I just got hired with Vidant Wellness in a part time role about two miles from my house, where I can go there and help them to develop and build their performance program within everything they do with the hospital. Absolutely great facility. And also a great facility there for speed development as well, and movement training. So that's right up my alley. So I'm I'm really enjoying that.

[00:13:43.91] So it's really been a great career. I've had a few accolades over the years that I'm very proud of. And some of those came in recent years. So I just really feel like I've been fortunate. And I'm thankful for the strength and conditioning profession. I have not been happy over the years when I've seen a lot of my great colleagues lose their positions and not be able to get back into the profession.

[00:14:14.15] It's interesting to me what has occurred at Kansas now. That may not help the income of some strength and conditioning coaches, but I think it's going to help the stability in our profession. And I don't think it's ever been fair for a new football coach to come in and fire somebody just because he wants his guy, and it doesn't matter what you've accomplished as an individual in your profession, you got to go out and try to find another job.

[00:14:49.41] So I don't think that's ever been fair. I don't think it's ever been right, but it's been part of the profession. But then when you look and see the type of money that some people are making in our profession because they have been connected to a winner-- hey, I give them all the credit in the world. And God bless them for making that money. And I've been very happy and very fortunate financially myself over the years, particularly with the longevity of continuing to always collect a paycheck over 31 years.

[00:15:21.06] So it's been great, and I'm very thankful for it, and also a lot of the friendships that I've made in the profession, and also specifically with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. I started with the guys that go back a long ways like Doug Lentz, that I met many, many years ago, Bill Kraemer, Andy Fry, those guys. And then when you went to conferences back then, of course, Chuck Stiggins was one of those guys as well-- Garhammer, and that whole group of people that you saw at every conference who gave all the presentations.

[00:15:58.32] Right, right, right. And one thing too that sticks out-- if people weren't doing the math when you were talking about that couple decades at ECU and UNC-- you've been through seven different head coaches.

[00:16:12.98] Right.

[00:16:13.62] So here's the key takeaway for me. You survived, basically-- quote in air quotes-- the seven coaching changes. What do you think were the keys to your success, or reasons that you were retained when football coaches weren't?

[00:16:31.41] Well, one thing is I never have thought that I was good enough. I've been very demanding of myself, never thinking I ever had enough knowledge. And I've been always trying to learn, and I've always tried to attach myself, or fly across country and find people smarter than me, which is not real hard to do. And so that's how I endeavored to become smarter, is by associating myself with the best.

[00:17:01.65] And fortunately, the university would send me wherever I wanted to go. I visited probably five or six NFL coaches. Anybody involved with speed at a high level, I tried to spend time with over the years. So I try to learn year to year. I try to develop a good reputation to where I would be retained. I try to outwork people.

[00:17:26.61] I think there's something to be said for a work ethic. And I think that somehow, you get blessed if you put the time in. But I never was a guy that was on the phone trying to make contacts, though. I mean, I don't really know that many people.

[00:17:44.88] Right.

[00:17:46.86] Some people, that's the way they've progressed their careers, and I give them credit for developing those relationships. But I've never been real good at that, and I've just kind of been trying to focus on what I'm doing wherever I'm at. And so I don't think that I've had longevity because of relationships.

[00:18:06.30] And to be honest with you, I've never been real concerned with trying to please the football coach over what I believed. I was always flexible and I always listened, but I always considered myself to be the professional. And so I would try to educate football coaches. Steve Logan was great for me. We had a great relationship, and I had a unique responsibility with the time that I was with him. At some point, he had me give the Friday night rah-rah talk.

[00:18:39.63] Nice!

[00:18:40.38] (LAUGHING) He was not a guy who is extremely emotional. He did not believe in emotion, he believed in execution. And he's an offensive coach, a quarterback coach, so I get that. At the same time, I played defense in college, and I believed in emotion. Because I believe, hey, if you're going to hit somebody in the mouth, you got to be ready to do that mentally and physically.

[00:19:04.17] Right, right.

[00:19:05.32] And so that was kind of my mentality. So I don't know-- one day I got fired up, and I talked to the team about respect. And of course, at East Carolina, we had to be over achievers, because we didn't get respect. And so a couple players said something to Steve, so I fell into that responsibility. So I brought a lot of military people in. After I ran out of things to talk about, I started bringing people in.

[00:19:32.94] Like I brought Pat Dye in. I brought drill sergeants in. We did some crazy-- I had two guys fight in the locker room one time, two martial arts guys. They fought three rounds before the game in front of the team, which the head coach didn't even know I was going to arrange that. So he didn't know what was going to happen next. We were playing Cincinnati. Mickey Marotti was at Cincinnati then, I think. And the game was played in the mud, and we won the game. And so that was a good memory.

[00:20:09.55] I brought a little guy in who was-- I don't know what he was, eighth-degree black belt or something. He was probably 5' 5". First thing he did was jump up kick the ceiling, so that got their attention one time.

[00:20:19.66] Wow!

[00:20:20.44] And that was a great presentation for the team. And it got to where the team looked forward to something. So that was an interesting responsibility.

[00:20:32.16] Yeah, they knew you were going to pull something out of the hat, right?

[00:20:36.88] [LAUGHTER]

[00:20:37.27] Yeah, it was a lot of work to figure it out every week.

[00:20:39.91] Well, you mentioned the continuous searching for knowledge, getting better, visiting people. It's just such a critical factor to find other people who are willing to share info. And you are giving back in so many ways too. You ran clinics wherever you were every year.

[00:21:00.07] But you've also written two entire books yourself, and you've been involved with a number of other books, most recently that Golden Age of Strength and Conditioning that was recently published. But maybe talk about what inspired you to write you know the first book that you have, A Strength Coach, a Call to Serve, and then the latest one, The Collegiate Battlefield. Where did you find time and come up with the idea to write a book? How hard was it, I guess? Because I talked to a lot of people who do write, and strength coaches who write, and it's not an easy process, right?

[00:21:39.79] Right.

[00:21:40.12] This is something that for some of us, it might come a little more innately. But for the most of us, it's a skill that we have to develop.

[00:21:49.27] Well, in college, I was never good in math. I excelled more in-- I guess what you could say is some of the things where you had more time to sit in thought and then put things on paper. And so that's something I've always enjoyed doing. I made a goal of trying to write about eight to 10 pages a night when I got home every night. And sometimes I got it done, sometimes I didn't, and sometimes, I would get stuck and not know what to write about next.

[00:22:24.41] But it flowed pretty well in the first book, because I had a lot of things to say. And the only thing I was really trying to do with the first book was trying to give my family a record of my career and some of my thoughts over time. Because I had to spend so much time away from them. And that's a long story too.

[00:22:46.24] But Strength Coach, a Call to Serve is just what it says. I believe that you are serving people as a strength and conditioning coach, trying to improve their lives, trying to contribute to their lives, where they're successful throughout the course of their lives because of the experience they have with you and their collegiate experience. And in my experience, I've probably worked with, I would say, at least 60% of fatherless individuals who come to the collegiate level. So I think that's significant as well.

[00:23:20.08] But I talked in there about my dad. My dad was my coach growing up, and was a fierce competitor athletically. I talked about where I came from in Pennsylvania. My two grandfathers put a total of 100 years in a coal mine, one 55 years, one 45 years. They both started at age 12. So just going back to the blue collar work ethic in western Pennsylvania, and also the influence of football in western Pennsylvania.

[00:23:51.76] Football is so strong there, and so many great players have come from that area over the years. So I talked a lot about that. I really didn't expect to sell a whole lot of books. And I was very surprised, because it sold pretty well on Amazon, and a lot of people enjoyed it. And so I felt pretty good about that. I put some nuts and bolts in there, and, of course, a lot of opinion.

[00:24:16.39] And then what I wanted to do, because I feel so strongly about the core values and military leadership principles, I would bring in Marines from Camp Lejeune to talk to our freshmen at ECU. Because of the location, they could get there in about an hour and 20 minutes. And so once a week on Friday morning, I'd have someone who was in the military come in and speak about leadership principles to our freshmen, who were the ones that were red shirting and training more. We'd have an early morning workout, and then they would talk to them.

[00:24:53.11] And then I decided to write a book and call it Collegiate Battlefield, whereby I talked about how these leadership principles apply specifically to collegiate football, and how I feel, in my experience, that those things have tremendous value, and have universal application. And when you look at one of the most successful organizations in the history of mankind, the US Marine Corps, you got to believe that those things go a long way, not only with Marines, but also with anybody who would like to adopt those leadership principles in what they're trying to accomplish.

[00:25:37.05] So that's basically the gist of the book. It's basically talking about the power of the human spirit, what military people refer to as the chief incalculable. In 2014, I was selected to go and be part of the Marine Corps executive leadership conference here in DC at the Pentagon. We also went out to Quantico, and that was a great experience for me and as well, and also influenced me.

[00:26:10.34] And so I'm kind of looking at some of the things going on with tactical. Got a little bit interest there, because of where I live. So I don't know if anything might develop there, but I do have somewhat of an interest there. But my schedule now with golfing and working part time two miles from my house is kind of hard to beat.

[00:26:31.39] It'd be pretty hard to disrupt that to get back into strength coach hours, or even tactical strength coach hours. I know they have it a little bit better. You guys know what I'm talking about.

[00:26:43.22] Yeah.

[00:26:45.11] You are very humble. And you didn't mention too much, but you definitely have had some accolades over the years. You've been NSCA Coach of the Year. You're actually leaving here to get up to West Virginia for a lifetime achievement award. So yeah, maybe talk a little bit more about the recognition that you have received. Because I know you're not someone to brag about it, so I'm going to pull it out of you a little.

[00:27:14.87] Well, of course, I'm from Pennsylvania. So really, one of the things that I treasure most in my life is that where we grew up, my father was my high school coach. And he was really an exceptional athlete in baseball and football. And so he was chosen to be in Washington-Greene Hall of Fame, Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. And that's a great achievement for people where I come from. And so in 2011, I was being considered for that honor. And I was extremely humbled and honored to be chosen to be in the same hall of fame as my dad.

[00:28:01.52] That's cool

[00:28:02.54] And so I don't know how many other father-son combinations there are for that particular hall of fame. But it just doesn't get any better for that for me. Because I had so much respect from my dad over the years, him being my coach and so forth.

[00:28:20.03] And then when Chuck Stiggins called me one day and said, something special is going to happen for you, I had no idea what he was talking about. And just like I said before, I don't really rub shoulders with a lot of people. And so he called me and he said, we've selected you for the USA Strength and Conditioning Coaches Hall of Fame-- and that was 2016, I believe-- and you're the only guy going in there and so forth. So I went back, and I looked at the guys that had been. I think maybe was the 18th guy to win. I don't think anybody's been selected since.

[00:28:54.09] So of course, that was a tremendous honor for me as well. And then having been nominated a couple of times for the college Strength Coach of the Year with the NSCA. I think one time, we were 11 and 1, and the other time we were like 10 and 2. Finally getting in when the ACU didn't have a very good year with football.

[00:29:14.36] Yeah, yeah.

[00:29:15.22] But I guess what I could say from that, I was very proud to get in that year, even though ECU didn't have a great year in football that year. I was happy to be recognized in my profession. And what that kind of said to me was just what I was talking about when I went in and made that first agreement with that AD. Hey, I want to be evaluated on what I do in my profession and what I do with the total department, not just football. So that's why it was equally special for me.

[00:29:45.29] I had a challenge in my life at that point. When I got back from Nashville from the awards ceremony, I found out that I had a melanoma. And so all those hours and time in the sun-- and this is what I'm talking about with strength coaches. Strength coaches, take care of yourself. I mean, get good sleep when you're out in the sun all those years. Protect yourself.

[00:30:12.87] I hated wearing a hat. So I had this spot on my forehead I had removed the couple of times. And then they said, hey, you've got a melanoma. We're going to have to take a large area of tissue out of your head, and now we've got to take your lymph nodes out to make sure it didn't spread. Because we can't see where it ended.

[00:30:34.33] And that was really a life-changing experience. Because when I got the news that it did not spread-- because when it spreads, it's stage III-- went ahead and got it taken off. 45 stitches in my head. And believe me, that'll change you. So I think that has changed me for the better. When they told me that it did not spread, I walked outside, and the sky looked bluer. I heard the birds chirping.

[00:31:06.88] [CHUCKLING]

[00:31:08.56] When I got home, my wife looked 20 years younger. So those types of things will change your life as well.

[00:31:17.51] Yeah, give you some more perspective. Yeah, no, that's cool. You talked about getting with that AD, and kind of telling him you want to be evaluated differently. And we talked the Kansas thing, what Andrea and Zach got going on over there, going into that system. Do you think that's kind of the way it's going? Or is there would you recommend that coaches go talk to their administrators about trying to be being better evaluated, or differently than just being under the head coach of whatever sport they're with?

[00:31:59.38] Well, I think strength coaches have paid the price to get paid what they're getting paid. When you decide to become a collegiate strength coach, and you're one of those guys across the country who's in a major program responsible for football, you have risked your family, your career. You have no idea about what your future is going to hold. You'd like to have multi-year contracts, and hopefully, you can get those. You want to believe that whoever you've signed up with is going to continue to win.

[00:32:39.26] So I think strength coaches have-- I think the reward goes with the risk. So do I believe that trainers should be paid more? Yeah, I agree. I think trainers should be paid more than they've been paid. But I don't agree with some of the criticisms, of course, that have been directed towards the strength and conditioning profession, and with the deaths that have occurred over the years.

[00:33:13.18] When you're a strength coach at the Division I level, and you know what the level of stress in relationship to producing a winning program, you're between a rock and a hard place all the time. You don't want anybody to go down. But at the same time, if it's been determined that, oh, well we're losing games because our strength coach does not have our team in good enough shape to sustain the fourth quarter, you're between a rock and a hard place there.

[00:33:44.92] Butch Davis said to me, we're never going to condition in season. You'll never be fired for the team not being in good enough shape. But we will not condition in season. The tempo of practice will basically take care of the conditioning that we need in season. Did I agree with that? Not particularly.

[00:34:06.49] But at the same time, that's just an example that over the years, the tempo of practice has basically taken the place of the strength coach deciding what we're going to do in season. And part of that is to make sure-- I'm sure that there's a safety factor involved as well. But at the same time, you don't want to get fired.

[00:34:25.56] Right, right.

[00:34:27.19] So I think strength coaches deserve the money they get. The hours are ridiculous. I know that I was tied up 38 weekends a year. I earned every penny of what I made over the years, I believe, along with the fact that being away from your family is a sacrifice that your spouse has to understand, your children have to understand. And so I favor what's going on. Because I think this is going to protect the strength and conditioning profession, and give us more longevity and stability. But at the same time, I don't think that anybody should take a significant pay cut either.

[00:35:11.73] Right, right. Raise the money that you're paying trainers. I mean, I got no problem with that. Trainers do a good job.

[00:35:19.45] Right.

[00:35:20.96] But at the same time, that's not to say that something should be taken away from strength and conditioning professionals, either.

[00:35:28.24] Yeah. And kind of going back to your the first book. It's called A Call to Serve. I mean, you're talking about the servant leadership, and yes, it's long hours and lots of time, but at the end of the day, the bigger picture is servant leadership, and giving back to people, right?

[00:35:52.61] No doubt. I mean, no doubt. You're not going to get a whole lot of thank yous. Over time, you'll get enough to feel like you're appreciated. I believe that if you put the time in. At the same time, you're going to you're going to train individuals and have to interact with individuals on a daily basis that maybe don't appreciate it as much, as far as the preparation goes.

[00:36:23.90] I think that's one of the things that some people find attractive about going to the tactical side. Guys want to work hard every day, and that's what they do. If you have to do anything, you got to back them off some.

[00:36:36.25] Totally, totally.

[00:36:38.57] But I think there's something to be said for kind of the movement maybe over the last 10 years or so with restoration and recovery. Obviously, that's a big part of what we do. I never have chosen to take part of my eight hours and foam roll for 20 minutes a day out of my eight hours. I was, hey, if you want to stay and do that-- whatever you want to do before we start, that's fine with me. But as far as I was concerned, you got to have movement to warm up. So my warm up has always involved movement.

[00:37:15.65] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

[00:37:18.50] So yeah, maybe a little difference of opinion there. I've had a lot of young people on my staff over the last six years. Because frankly, East Carolina didn't have a whole lot of money to spend, so it was easy for my assistants to go find a better job. But we didn't have the money to hire a lot of people with a lot of experience, so I ended up with a lot of millennials.

[00:37:40.40] And millennials like that whiteboard. They like collaboration. And they like to be involved in decision making. And they don't mind jumping the chain of command from time to time if they're trying to find some information. And I have given several corporate-- I guess you could say talks on generational theory. And so generational theory is very interesting to me particularly studying the millennial. Because that's going to be 75% of the workforce in the not-too-distant future.

[00:38:24.07] Yeah. How did that make you have to adapt as a head coach, getting these younger people under you?

[00:38:31.05] Well, I think when you don't have a lot of money in your program, and you don't have a lot of money to spend with technology, that's going to be a challenge. Because young people-- they like the technology. They like the feedback. They like to give feedback. They like to see the feedback. They like to see the data.

[00:38:47.99] Of course, an old guy like me likes to coach. That's what I'd rather do rather than study data. I like the data. I love the data with Tendo units. I've used Tendo units over the last 10 or 12 years very extensively. I've probably done a lot of more things with wattage than most people. Most people have done a lot of things with bar speed, but I like a lot of things with wattage. And so I've done that, I love that feedback. And I love dynamic training on your alternative day. So I'm all about that.

[00:39:27.87] But as far as how much sleep did you get-- basically, we want to assess readiness. Well, I'm probably more geared toward punishing somebody for not being ready because they didn't get enough sleep, rather than backing off, which might not make very much sense. I'm just saying athletes should basically do what they're required to do and what you want them to do. And I think they should have that commitment to your program.

[00:40:07.49] Rather than maybe having to say, well, you got to get a little bit more sleep, and we're going to back off today, and we're going to de-load today because I don't think everybody's quite ready-- it's the individual's responsibility to be ready as far as I'm concerned. So I never have done much with readiness, I guess.

[00:40:26.96] Yeah. Well, what's the saying? You get what you tolerate. So in the level of expectation, they probably know when they played for you what they were going to be ready to do, and how they needed to be prepared. And that meant they better sleep enough, because they know that no one's going to cut them slack for not.

[00:40:47.90] I had a really special time during the 10 years that I was at East Carolina the first time. Because I had a bunch of players that bought in big time into what we did. And they really kind of ran the program. I mean we did some pretty crazy stuff with conditioning. And you could say, well, that's not conditioning for football. I mean, we did a lot of stuff with 300s. We get down to where we were only taking 30 second rests.

[00:41:15.17] You had to do certain things to cross over and be part of the team by the end of the summer. When you crossed over, I gave you a different color shirt, and you became a coach. And so the last couple of weeks of the summer, I had maybe 70 coaches out there with gold shirts, and maybe 12 guys left to make the conditioning. And those 70 guys were coaching them hard, and making sure that if you want to be part of this fraternity, you got to crossover. So that was a really special time for me as a strength coach.

[00:41:44.72] Yeah. That's cool. And that too-- you said buy in. That's kind of a buzz word these days, right?

[00:41:55.35] Right.

[00:41:55.76] I mean, are there any secrets to success with that, or is it just showing up and being prepared as a coach? And obviously, you care about them, but you're going to coach them hard, and you're going to know people and respect them, and they're going to respect you.

[00:42:17.91] Well, I think with the time that you have with these guys and the NCAA restrictions and so forth, and the way that this progression has moved over the years, I just think there's a lot of parity in programs. I mean, I go talk to people about what they're doing, I don't see a whole lot of differences. So, OK, well, we're going to do something secret and mysterious, where we're going to gain this edge on everybody else in the country. I'm not too sure that exists these days.

[00:42:49.28] I mean, athletes have to buy into the program. They have to have a passion for everything involved with the program. They have to have a commitment to the head coach. They have to have a commitment to what you're doing in the off season, obviously. And every time you see a coaching change, the whole buzz phrase is we're going to change the culture.

[00:43:11.74] Right, right.

[00:43:13.31] Well, I don't know if that's really what you have to do every time you come in. I don't think the culture in relationship to preparation from program to program is all that different, from what I've seen.

[00:43:29.83] Right, yeah.

[00:43:30.92] I think everybody is working hard. Everybody's coaching hard. Everybody is pretty educated as to what develops results. And now everybody lifts weights.

[00:43:44.41] (LAUGHING) Right, right.

[00:43:45.12] A little bit different from program to program. What I see now is I see platforms and racks everywhere I go. So I mean, how much different is it from program to program?

[00:43:58.60] Yeah, yeah, that's a great point.

[00:44:00.20] Are we doing free form closed chain multi-joint movements? Somebody is going to snatch, somebody is going to hang clean, Oh, OK. Somebody is going to back squat, somebody is going to front squat. I think everybody's doing bilateral and isolateral type of movements. Everybody has a speed program. So I don't know how much different is it from program to program.

[00:44:28.01] Yeah, such a great point. Cool. Well, this has been fantastic. Again, I want to tee up if you haven't picked them up already, or you haven't been familiar, make sure you check out Strength Coach, a Call to Serve, The Collegiate Battlefield, or The Golden Age of Strength and Conditioning, or all three of those books. Any other closing thoughts, final words, wisdom?

[00:44:50.63] Well, I mean, I just thank you, and I thank the NSCA for everything that the organization has done for the coaching profession over the years. I'm really happy about where this thing has progressed for guys now making the money that they deserve, to be making a relationship for their knowledge and their commitment, and the risk-reward that goes along with the profession. I think this is a good thing, what's going on with Kansas in relationship to the stability and future stability of strength coaches. People may have different opinions there.

[00:45:39.00] But it's been a great ride for me. It's going to be a great ride for a lot of other people. I look at guys like Kevin Yoxall and Mike Gentry and colleagues of mine through the profession that have had tremendous careers and have accomplished a lot, not only where they've been, but also through the profession. Ken Mannie Bert Hill I hired Bert as my assistant a couple of years ago because he was out of it for a little while, and now he's back as a defensive line coach with the XFL. Guys like that over the years have given so much to the profession, and have been extremely professional and extremely successful.

[00:46:29.15] Yeah, yeah. That's great.

[00:46:30.31] So I recognize all those guys as well.

[00:46:32.89] Well, we thank you all so much for everything you've done, and appreciate all of the support of the organization. And myself, I truly appreciate our friendship over the years, and the support you've given me. So thanks for being on the show. Looking forward to sharing this with everybody.

[00:46:49.60] And a big thanks to our sponsor, Sorinex Exercise Equipment. We appreciate their support. And to all of you listening, we appreciate your support. Again, if you like the podcast, make sure that you subscribe wherever you download your podcasts from, write us a review, and keep listening in. Look forward to talking with you all soon, thanks.

[00:47:09.47] Yeah, I appreciate it. And I'm going to I'm going to try to get out here every year. Thank you.

[00:47:13.40] And if you're new to this podcast and want to learn more about NSCA Strength and Conditioning certifications, you can get all the details at nsca.com/certification.

[00:47:22.51] [MUSIC PLAYING]

[00:47:23.24] This was the NSCA's Coaching Podcast. The National Strength and Conditioning Association was founded in 1978 by strength and conditioning coaches to share information, resources, and help advance the profession. Serving coaches for over 40 years, the NSCA is the trusted source for strength and conditioning professionals. Be sure and join us next time.

Reporting Errors: To report errors in a podcast episode requiring correction or clarification, email the editor at publications@nsca.com or write to NSCA, attn: Publications Dept., 1885 Bob Johnson Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80906. Your letter should be clearly marked as a letter of complaint. Please (a) identify in writing the precise factual errors in the published podcast episode (every false, factual assertion allegedly contained therein), (b) explain with specificity what the true facts are, and (c) include your full name and contact information.

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Scott P. Caulfield, MA, CSCS,*D, TSAC-F,*D, RSCC*E

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Jeff Connors, CSCS, RSCC*E

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Jeff Connors retired from collegiate coaching in July of 2019 after a 31 year career. He also spent four months following his retirement working as an ...

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