Thursday, March 9, 2017

A Little Training History

Boyd Epley the legendary University of Nebraska strength coach is universally credited for his seminal role in creating the phenomenon of the strength and conditioning program in college football. He was the first full-time paid strength coach in history, Epley is also arguably the single most important individual in the history of strength and conditioning in college athletics. He pioneered training techniques and lifts; developed exercises, equipment and evaluation tests; organized strength coaches; and, in doing so, literally lifted strength and conditioning out of the shadows and into the year-round spotlight that is the millennial, media-saturated, modern incarnation of college football.

Before Epley was hired by celebrated Cornhuskers coach and athletic director Bob Devaney in September 1969, strength and conditioning on a team and program-wide level, as well as the concepts of in-season workouts and summer conditioning, was non-existent. 

In essence, a scene almost unrecognizable from what one sees at the ol' alma mater today: scores of student-athletes training together in grand, gleaming, campus cathedrals encompassing tens of thousands of square feet and filled with state-of-the-art weight and cardiovascular equipment.

"If anyone gets slower," Devaney told Epley after the hiring handshake, "you're fired."
So Epley chalked up and went to work. The Cornhuskers exhibited astounding gains in strength, speed and overall athleticism, the poster boy of which was Johnny Rodgers, the 1972 Heisman Trophy winner, and Nebraska -- with Epley's help -- built an early '70s dynasty.
Interestingly, despite his remarkable vision and all he accomplished, Epley does not pretend to be omniscient, to know the ancient past of weight lifting, nor to be a prophet, to have seen it all coming -- the facilities, the strength coach disciples, the extraordinary effect that systemized strength and conditioning programs would have on the game.
"I don't think anyone could have foreseen what lifting weights would do for athletes," he said.
Just a little history about strength and conditioning programs used in all levels of american football.
Eddie Wilson

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