Big Ten: John Dettman
"Cameron's moment went on for a really, really long time. Turns out I could've run to the party and made it back for the end of his moment."
- Marketing experts think the Big Ten will stick with its brand name despite going to 12 teams, Brian Christopherson writes in the Lincoln Journal Star. Nebraska steps into a very good and very lucrative situation in the Big Ten, Lee Barfknecht writes in the Omaha World-Herald.
- Michigan player Jon Bills is recovering well from a very serious car accident, annarbor.com's Dave Birkett writes. The Detroit News' Gregg Krupa and Vincent Goodwill examine what went wrong with former Michigan cornerback Boubacar Cissoko.
- Iowa's seniors won't be around for it, but they think the Nebraska rivalry will be a big hit, Marc Morehouse writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Some Hawkeyes fans are so excited to see their team on the road that they bought season tickets at Arizona to do so, Ryan Suchomel writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- A strong Big Ten divisions proposal from The York Daily Record's Frank Bodani.
- Wisconsin's weight-room transition from John Dettman to Ben Herbert is working out well, Mike Lucas writes in The Capital Times.
- Chicago Sun-Times columnist and former Northwestern cornerback Rick Telander checks in with his former Wildcats teammates about what football did for them -- and to them.
- Purdue coach Danny Hope likes the idea of more Big Ten games on the football schedule, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- The Indianapolis Star's Terry Hutchens and Tom Brew discuss the new Big Ten and agree that the title game should be played in Naptown.
- The 2013 NFL draft is a long way off, but Michigan State's Jerel Worthy might hear his named called early on that day, Shannon Shelton writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Ohio State has the academic support structure in place, but some players like Duron Carter and Keith Wells still struggle in the classroom, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
Head coaches get most of the credit -- and, to be fair, most of the blame -- but strength coaches spend more time with players than anyone else on campus. They play major roles in developing personnel for the season.
So who are these guys? Here's a quick look at the Big Ten strength coaches.
Name: Lou Hernandez
At Illinois since: 2005
The skinny: Hernandez made the transition from Florida to Illinois with Fighting Illini head coach Ron Zook, for whom he has worked since 2003. A native Texan, Hernandez received both his bachelor's and master's from the University of Houston, where he worked from 1992-2001 as both an assistant strength coach and the head man. Hernandez spent 2002 as the assistant strength and conditioning coach for the New York Jets. Despite being just 5-foot-8, Hernandez was a competitive power lifter who could bench 507 pounds and squat 720 in his heyday. He also consults Illinois players on nutrition and helped defensive end Will Davis add to his frame in 2008.
Name: Mark Wateska
At Indiana since: 2002
The skinny: Wateska has spent nearly a quarter century as a strength and conditioning coach, including the last eight seasons with the Hoosiers football program. He played football at Penn State and was part of the 1986 national championship team. Wateska received both his bachelor's degree and his master's degree in exercise and sports science from Penn State and started his career there. He eventually left for Boston College, where he served as an assistant strength coach for four years before he took his first head job at Maine. Before Indiana, Wateska spent seven years as Stanford's head strength and conditioning coach. After his first year at The Farm, Wateksa was named Pac-10 Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NCSA).
Name: Chris Doyle
At Iowa since: 1999
The skinny: Doyle has been in Iowa City for every step of the program's resurgence under Kirk Ferentz. He made his mark right away, earning Big Ten Strength Coach of the Year honors from the NCSA in 1999. Doyle has helped 149 players who have reached the professional ranks in the NFL, NHL and NBA, including 24 Iowa players selected in the last six NFL drafts. A native of Quincy, Mass., who earned two degrees at Boston University, Doyle came to Iowa after a year at Utah but was no stranger to the Big Ten. He served as Wisconsin's assistant strength and conditioning coach from 1996-98. Doyle worked both the football and hockey teams in Madison.
Name: Mike Barwis
At Michigan since: 2008
The skinny: Barwis followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan after spending 14 years at West Virginia, where he worked with the school's Olympic sports programs before taking over strength and conditioning for football in 2003. Rodriguez is extremely loyal to Barwis and gives Barwis a lot of credit for the Mountaineers' rise to national prominence from 2005-07. Barwis has coached 24 NCSA All-Americans since 1999 and received the Bronze Award from the NCSA certification commission in 2004. A former mixed-martial arts fighter, Barwis' workout regimes at West Virginia became legendary, and the Philadelphia native has developed quite a reputation among Michigan players and fans.
Name: Ken Mannie
At Michigan State since: 1994
The skinny: Mannie made the transition with Nick Saban from Toledo to Michigan State in 1994, but while Saban moved on, Mannie remained a fixture in East Lansing. He has received numerous awards and honors during his Michigan State tenure, including being named Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the NSCA in 2002 and being inducted into the Varsity S Club as an honorary member in 2007. Mannie, who oversees the strength and conditioning programs for all of Michigan State's sports, is a regular contributor to the Scholastic Coach and Athletic Director publication. He first met Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio at Ohio State, where they both served as graduate assistants in 1984.
Name: Mark Hill
At Minnesota since: 2007
The skinny: A 1999 graduate of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Hill already has worked as a high-level strength coach in the Big 12, Pac-10 and Big Ten. He joined Minnesota's staff in head coach Tim Brewster's first season after spending three years as associate director of performance enhancement at Arizona. Hill worked closely with Antoine Cason at Arizona, helping the defensive back win the Thorpe Award. He has mentored six All-Big Ten players at Minnesota and helped coach 13 All-Americans and 28 NFL draft picks as the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Oklahoma from 2000-03. Hill was an All-Southern Conference wide receiver at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Name: Larry Lilja
At Northwestern since: 1981
The skinny: Lilja is the dean of Big Ten strength coaches and counts current Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald among the many Wildcats players he tutored during his lengthy run in Evanston. He was a three-year starter at Northwestern from 1973-75, serving as a captain in 1974, before returning in 1981 to run the school's strength and conditioning center. Lilja played a major role in helping Northwestern transform its football program by winning Big Ten championships in 1995 and 1996. He earned Big Ten Conference Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year honors in 1996. The Lilja family has deep roots in the Big Ten, as Larry and his brothers George (Michigan) and Dave (Indiana) are the only siblings in league history to serve as captains for three different teams.
Name: Eric Lichter
At Ohio State since: 2006
The skinny: Lichter built his reputation in the private sector by opening the Speed Strength Athlete Training Center in Euclid, Ohio, where he trained athletes in many sports, including Ohio State NFL draft prospects like Donte Whitner and Bobby Carpenter. He served as a consultant to Ohio State's 2002 national championship team and brought Power Plate technology to the program. Head coach Jim Tressel hired him in 2006 to oversee the strength and conditioning program. Lichter has trained six Top 10 NFL draft picks and has worked with LeBron James, Ron Dayne and others. His mother, Linda Lichter Witter, is Ohio State’s synchronized swimming coach, and Eric served as a consultant for the synchronized swimming team before joining Tressel's staff.
Name: John Thomas
At Penn State since: 1992
The skinny: Like pretty much every member of Joe Paterno's staff, Thomas has been in State College for quite some time, making his mark on the Penn State program. In 2002, Thomas was named a Master of Strength and Conditioning Coach by the NSCA, one of only 27 people to carry the title at the time. He also was named National Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 1997. Thomas is a staunch supporter of the High Intensity Strength Training System (HIT), which early last decade created some discontent that has since subsided. Thomas came to Penn State from Army, where he served as head strength and conditioning coach in 1990-91. He played both offensive and defensive line at Muskingum College.
Name: Jim Lathrop
At Purdue since: 1998 (sixth year as director of strength and conditioning)
The skinny: Lathrop made the trek with Joe Tiller and Danny Hope from Wyoming to Purdue after being named the WAC's strength and conditioning coordinator professional of the year in 1996. He spent seven years as strength and conditioning coordinator before being promoted to oversee strength and conditioning for Purdue's entire athletic program. Lathrop designs specific training programs for football, wrestling, and men's and women's track. A former offensive guard for Northwest Missouri State, Lathrop served as both an assistant and a director of strength and conditioning at Georgia Tech from 1988-92. Georgia Tech won the 1990 national championship during his first year as director.
Name: Ben Herbert
At Wisconsin since: 2002 (named head strength and conditioning coach in January 2009)
The skinny: Herbert cut his teeth under longtime Wisconsin strength coach John Dettman before working his way into the top football job last winter. A two-year starter on the defensive line for the Badgers, Herbert helped Wisconsin reach back-to-back Rose Bowls in 1998 and 1999. He joined Wisconsin's strength and conditioning staff as an intern in 2002 before being promoted to an assistant the next year. Herbert shook things up after becoming the head strength coach, introducing position group workouts, innovative competitions and some unique motivational props, including a WWE replica belt and two potted plants.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
After suffering through one of the most disappointing seasons in the country last fall, Wisconsin needed to make changes, and everyone knew it.
The problem? Spring practice was more than three months away.
|Ben Herbert, a former defensive end, has rejuvenated Wisconsin's strength and conditioning program with his unconventional ideas.|
The weight room provided the first platform to shake things up, and thanks to some creative ideas and favorable timing, that's exactly where the Badgers capitalized.
Longtime head strength and conditioning coach John Dettman, a key figure in the football program's resurgence during the 1990s, moved into an administrative position and turned the football responsibilities over to his assistant.
Ben Herbert's time had arrived, and the former Badgers defensive linemen, who had assisted Dettman since 2003, didn't waste a second in his new role.
It took a wrestling belt, two potted plants, plenty of hand-holding (not the kind you think), some nontraditional tests and a lot of tough love, but Herbert got the desired results.
"Guys, they were looking for something to spark them a little bit," Herbert said. "I thought I had some of the answers for that. You never know until you get through a training cycle and then full winter and spring ball. But looking back on it, I couldn't have it go any other way.
"It worked out exactly how I wanted it to."
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
OK, confession time.
I got really into pro wrestling during fifth and sixth grades, and refused to believe those who claimed it was fake. I still remember going to see the original Ultimate Warrior, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka and a casket match between The Undertaker and Sid Justice at the Cow Palace in South San Francisco, circa 1992. I also collected the (then-WWF) action figures, though I never got my hands on Andre The Giant. Good times.
Why do I reveal this?
Well, Wisconsin's new strength and conditioning coach took a page from the WWE in shaping the team's winter program. Ben Herbert, who took over for longtime strength coach John Dettmann in January, decided players needed a new incentive in the program after a lackluster 2008 season that featured several late-game letdowns.
As The Capital Times' Jim Polzin writes, Herbert bought a WWE replica belt that became the prize for the group of players who tallied the most points in a series of strength and conditioning competitions, which included a backward sled pull.
"The belt, which Herbert found using an internet search, includes faux diamonds and a spinning center plate with the WWE logo. It caught Herbert's eye because the logo resembles the Motion W. Engraved on the belt is the word 'tonesetters,' the theme of Herbert's message to the players in the wake of a 2008 season in which the Badgers failed to live up to high expectations."
The winning group included defensive linemen and linebackers, which bodes well because both units lost multiple starters in the offseason.
Herbert also did things to increase accountability among the players. If anyone showed up late to the team's bi-weekly 6 a.m. runs, the start time was pushed back 30 minutes.
"At the end of each session, Herbert had the team form one giant circle and all but two adjacent players held hands, leaving a broken link in the chain. The player who was late had to stand in the middle of the circle 'just to make sure everybody saw who it was that they can't count on,' Herbert said. 'They'd look around and they'd know who they could, and then they also know who they couldn't.'"
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
- Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin and several teammates are training for the NFL draft in Amish country, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News.
"Last week, Maybin said he weighed in the 242-245 range. This week, he said he's gained eight pounds. Eat. Train. Sleep. There ain't nothing else to do here."
- Academic issues will sideline Minnesota starting safety Tramaine Brock for spring practice, Kent Youngblood writes in the Star Tribune. Also, check out this nugget:
"Athletic director Joel Maturi said the Gophers still are negotiating to add Southern California to the schedule in a future home-and-home series. A decision should be made within a week."
- Michigan State is recruiting the son of former Detroit Lions running back James Jones, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press.
- Longtime Wisconsin strength and conditioning coach John Dettman discusses the transition of power to Ben Herbert for 2009, the Wisconsin State Journal's Tom Mulhern writes in his blog.
- Rich Rodriguez's sizable first-year tab for Michigan stirs debate about reform in collegiate athletics, John Heuser writes in The Ann Arbor News.