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Thinking Back: Before Moorer...


Conch Horn
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...we had Medina.

 

Folks have been reporting that smoothie machines and flat screens have been replaced by puke buckets and pits. Reportedly, team members this off season will feel a level of pain and discomfort like no other athletes have ever endured. No doubt that in recent years, things have gotten a bit less demanding than what we would like to believe, but as some old-timers around here can attest, we had our version of a "reign of terror" from the toughest little man I've ever known.

 

Frank Medina measured in at under five feet tall, but he might as well have been twice that height, based on the level of fear and respect we had for him. He could be either your worst enemy...or your best friend...and I chose the latter. If you busted your butt in his infamous "Medina Sessions" and he recognized your effort, the respect was mutual and he showed actual admiration for those players that weren't totally blessed with natural athletic ability. We had what would be the equivalent of 4 and 5 star talent come through the 40 Acres over the years ("Blue Chips" was the accepted term then) that had all the press clippings, but didn't have the heart for what Frank doled out during the off season.

 

Before schools like Nebraska built massive weight facilities that became their version of the Taj Mahal, most athletic trainers from Frank's era shied away from the heavy lifting and prescribed a regimen that was geared toward lean and quick players. We were warned by Frank at the start of each off season (which began the day we got back from the Christmas break) that we would "..run, run, RUN, and then RUN some more!"

 

On days that we didn't only run, we worked out in the locker rooms, where Frank had turned the heat up to something resembling the Planet Mercury. With the benches pushed up against the lockers, we'd be split into groups. One group donned 40 pound weight vests and sparring gloves and beat on these giant heavy bags suspended from the concrete beams under the stadium...for 3 minutes. While that was going on, another group did situps...with the weight vests...and holding a 25 pound weight plate behind your head. There was a jump roping group that had to stay in continuous motion for those 3 minutes, lest Frank catch someone "pacing themselves" and he'd have everyone start over. Another group carried 25 pound dumbbells in each hand and jogged briskly around the inside perimeter of the locker room, pumping the weights up and down as they ran. When Frank would blow the whistle to start, he would then walk around yelling, "Show me something, men!" and occasionally punch an unsuspecting player in the gut as they slugged away at the heavy bag or jumped rope. The only group that got to rest during this explosion of energy was the group holding the feet of the guys doing sit-ups...and they'd be sweating all over your legs...

 

Three minutes seemed an eternity, and when Frank blew the whistle, we had but a few seconds to get out of the weight vest, hand it to our partner, and move to the next station before he blew the command to begin again. Student trainers were screaming at guys, imitating Frank's exhortations, and partners were yelling encouragement to their buddies...if they could draw a breath in that hellhole.

Whistle. Rinse. Repeat. No water break until everyone had done the exercises for one full circuit to Frank's satisfaction.

 

When those sessions were over, we'd go outside onto the track and "cool down" with some sprints and a few conditioning laps. If the weather was inclement, we had ramps to run under the West side stands while wearing the weight vests and sometimes carrying a teammate piggy-back in relay races up the ramps. Frank was like a little tyrant strutting around in his starched white trainer's pants and shirt, always with a navy blue or olive green "sweat jacket" and a white bucket hat with a burnt orange chenille "T" emblazoned on it. We'd do our workouts with one eye on what we were doing...and the other eye on Frank.

 

Sometimes, he'd focus on what you were doing and you'd pray you were doing it right...and if you were, you might get a little wink from Frank...and it made everything seem worthwhile.

 

And...we had puke buckets...if you could make it that far.

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I've never seen conditioning an issue under Mack. We have more 4th quarter comebacks that I can count.

 

Every time there is a new S&C guy, the reports are how tough the work outs were. Same thing happen with Bennie.

 

Mad Dog was unpopular not because his methods, but because he was fat. This whole sense of entitlement wildfire is internet driven without any substantiation.

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The problem with Mad Dog is that if you wanted to work, he would work you out. But he didn't demand that the guys show up twice a day nor did he chart how productive you were in the weight room. Guys like Orakpo, Kindle, etc. were big dude that no doubt spent time in the weight room. But others like Curtis Brown needed to add bulk and perhaps weren't as dedicated to the individual "self guided" lifting sessions.

 

I think the biggest difference is that Moorer will not only make sessions mandatory and more focused but also efficiency in the weight room and attention to detail will reach new heights.

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