NCF Nation: Jeff Madden

ESPNU College Town, a new social networking game from ESPN, launches today. Part of the game is building a college program.

If you were putting together an ideal program with the best parts of the Big 12, here's what it would look like:

Academics: Texas. The school has 12 different colleges and 650 study abroad programs. U.S. News ranks it 45th among the nation's best universities and despite having over 50,000 enrolled, still only accepts 45 percent of applicants. And yes, realignment enthusiasts, the Longhorns are members of the Association of American Universities, just one of 35 public universities to hold the distinction. "Hands off, Jim Delany," says everyone else in the Big 12.

Athletic director: Joe Castiglione, Oklahoma. He took the job in April 1998, made Florida defensive coordinator Bob Stoops his first big hire and two seasons later, he was celebrating the program's first national title since 1985. Since then, the program has enjoyed a decade of success rivaled by few. The Sports Business Journal also named Castiglione the Athletic Director of the Year in 2009.

City: Austin, Texas. Up north, you'll hear the city is overrated. Just not from anybody who lives there. Any kind of food. Any kind of bar. And it's warm. A close second: Boulder, Colorado. Pearl Street Mall is the most European thing in the Big 12. In this case, that's a good thing. And it's all in the shadow of a gorgeous mountain.

Coach: Tie, Texas' Mack Brown, Oklahoma's Bob Stoops and Kansas State's Bill Snyder. Maintaining success is harder than it sounds, and recruiting isn't as easy as Brown and Stoops make it look. They both revived struggling programs and helped pave the recruiting trails that keep both programs in the national top 10 almost annually. As for coaching on the field, the perhaps clichéd mark of an elite coach is getting the most out of what you have. No one personifies that more than Snyder.

Facilities: Texas. Its stadium is the Big 12's largest and the 20,000 square foot Al-Rashid Strength Complex is immaculate. Walking past tons of individual awards encased in glass to get to that weight room makes sure the players inside maximize their time there. Money may not buy happiness or wins, but it can buy a bunch of cool stuff.

Fans: Nebraska. The sellout streak is impressive, but Nebraska fans are courteous, knowledgeable and numerous. Can't ask for much more. There are no other teams of note (My apologies, Omaha Nighthawks) in the state, including basketball, so the support of the entire state and the school's alumni elsewhere goes behind the football Huskers.

Game day atmosphere: Nebraska. There are only a handful of Saturdays every year when a campus gets to host a game, and Nebraska makes the most of it. Fans come early and they're amped all day until after the game's over. No game day atmosphere has more of the intangible buzz that the few square miles around Memorial Stadium possesses on fall Saturdays. Or maybe that buzz is a side effect of various smoking meats.

Mascot: Ralphie the Buffalo. Find me another mascot who is capable of seriously injuring a person. Bevo just kind of sits there all game, but he could probably pop Lil' Red.

Stadium: Memorial Stadium, Nebraska. Above the main entrance reads "Through these gates pass the greatest fans in college football," and I won't be one to argue. Renovations have kept the stadium current with new suites, while staying true to the history that's made the program the nation's most beloved by its fans. The gates that open to let players out on to the field (also a nod to the program's history) at the end of the Tunnel Walk are guarded, and a statue of athletic director and former coach Tom Osborne with former quarterback Brook Berringer watches over an entrance.

Also, multiturf looks sweet.

Strength program: Texas isn't short on talent, but elite high school players wouldn't make it to the NFL without strength coach Jeff Madden. Texas hasn't always had more players in the NFL than any other college team, but it does this year. The strength program is a big reason why.
What do you see as your job's objective?

Jeff Madden: To get athletes bigger, faster, stronger and in tremendous condition to win games.

Can you expound a little bit on the philosophy behind that?

JM: My theory is explosive power is the linkage of speed and strength. Trying to get our athletes in tremendous shape, keeping them healthy and working them as hard as we possibly can to get them tough and durable and physical and go out and win games.

What do you tell the freshmen the first time you meet them?

JM: The first time I meet freshmen is during recruiting, and I talk to them and tell them about our program and the things that we do and what is expected from them if they want to come to the University of Texas.

What's expected from them if they come to Texas?

JM: We expect them to give their best effort each and every day and try to be the best athlete they can be.

When's the busiest time of the year for you?

JM: Summertime.

What's a typical week for you during the summer?

JM: Well, we started at 6 a.m. this morning with our first group and then we've got three groups scheduled for the rest of the day that we're available for. Then we go all afternoon and we've had camps. We've had about 2,000 kids come through Texas that past two weeks for camps and we coach them all night. So it's a pretty active time.

So what's a week during the season like?

JM: It's the same deal. We'll start at the 6 a.m. hour with our first group, and we're usually done by 6 p.m.

So what about this profession made you want to be a strength coach?

JM: I've been strength and conditioning coach for 28 years. So, I started a long time ago. The kids keep you young. I saw a job where I could still wear my shorts and T-shirts and work out and enjoy life and still call it a career. And then when I found out you can help young men and women to develop themselves and become the best they can be -- I learned that from my strength coach -- I was able to luckily get into this profession.

What players have set the bar highest for you as a coach?

JM: Well, David, I've got over 200 NFL players, so there's some tremendous athletes in there. Guys that have won the Heisman, guys that were runners-up for the Heisman, guys that have won the Butkus Awards from the Ricky Williams to Eric Bieniemy at Colorado to Cory Redding, Alfred Williams. I got guys that are going in the Hall of Fame. Those guys have set tremendous, high bars for others to acheive from Casey Hampton to Shaun Rogers. There's just so many -- Roy Williams -- I've coached in this profession.
If you missed historian John D. Lukac's story from yesterday about Nebraska and the birth of the strength and conditioning program, go check it out.

Still want more? Head over and read Pat Forde's piece on Notre Dame strength coach Paul Longo.

But here's a look at who's beefing up players across the Big 12. So the next time your favorite player flashes a flex after a touchdown, remember who had a lot to do with that.

Baylor -- Kaz Kazadi

Kazadi, a 1997 graduate of Tulsa, came to Baylor in January 2008 and also serves as the assistant athletic director. He was also the assistant strength coach for the Kansas City Chiefs after a short stop at the University of Missouri. He played professionally after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams and received his Master's degree from the University of Missouri.

Colorado -- Jeff Pitman

Pitman came to Colorado in May 2006 after seven years as the head strength and conditioning coach at his alma mater, Boise State. He helped the Broncos win six WAC titles during that span and played center from 1990-92. Before coming back to Boise, he worked as an assistant strength coach at Minnesota.

Iowa State -- Yancy McKnight

McKnight came to Ames in 2009 via Houston, where he was the coach at Rice. He's coached under Les Miles and Todd Graham and helped develop pros like Tatum Bell, Kevin Williams and Antonio Smith. He's a graduate of Missouri Southern State in Joplin, Mo.

Kansas -- John Williams

Williams coached at South Carolina State before joining new coach Turner Gill at Kansas. He graduated from North Carolina A&T in 1995 and has made career stops at North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Along the way, he's helped develop seven first-round NFL draft picks and 40 NFL players.

Kansas State -- Chris Dawson

Dawson was named the director of strength and conditioning in January after leaving Kansas and coach Mark Mangino. He's coached 29 NFL draft picks in his 15-plus years as a strength coach. He's previously coached at Minnesota and his alma mater, Oklahoma, where he played linebacker from 1992-94, as well as an internship with the Dallas Cowboys.

Missouri -- Josh Stoner

Stoner served under former director and current assistant athletic director Pat Ivey before becoming director of strength and conditioning in 2007. Stoner graduated from Centenary before receiving his Master's degree at Southern Miss. Before coming to Missouri, he made stops at Tulsa and coached at Southern Miss while earning his degree.

Nebraska -- James Dobson

Dobson came to Nebraska in 2008 after spending nine seasons at Iowa as assistant strength coach. Dobson graduated from Wisconsin and got his Master's degree at Central Michigan, and now finds himself preparing to be back in the Big Ten after helping the Hawkeyes win league titles in 2002 and 2004. Before Iowa, he'd also coached at SMU. During his career, he's coached pros like Bob Sanders and Dallas Clark, as well as linemen Robert Gallery and Ndamukong Suh.

Oklahoma -- Jerry Schmidt

Schmidt has been at Oklahoma since coach Bob Stoops' arrival in 1999 and followed the coach from Florida. He'd previously coached at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State. During that time, he's earned national championship rings from all three schools and worked with five Heisman winners including Sam Bradford, Jason White, Danny Wuerffel, Barry Sanders and Tim Brown. He's also coached 28 first-round NFL draft picks. Since coming to Norman, Oklahoma's produced 48 picks, including 12 first-rounders.

Oklahoma State -- Rob Glass

Glass, an Oklahoma State alum, spent 10 seasons at Florida under Steve Spurrier before coming back home to Stillwater. He had previously been an assistant strength coach when head coach Mike Gundy played in Stillwater, but left for Gainesville in 1995 before earning to head position in 1998. He's worked with 17 first-round picks, including two Heisman winners, a Thorpe Award winner, a Ray Guy Award winner and a Golden Spikes award on the baseball field.

Texas -- Jeff Madden

Madden came to Austin via North Carolina and is in his 13th year as the assistant athletics director for strength and conditioning at Texas. Madden, a graduate of Vanderbilt, played briefly in the USFL and has made stops at Cincinnati, Rice and Colorado over the course of his 20-year career. He's helped develop over 100 NFL players, including 32 first-round draft picks and 16 Olympians. Among his pupils: Two Heisman winners and two Heisman runners-up, along with numerous college football award winners. Madden spoke to ESPN earlier this week, and we'll have a Q&A with the Cleveland native later this morning.

Texas A&M -- Dave Kennedy

Kennedy came to Texas A&M in 2008 under Mike Sherman and has coached at Ohio State, Pittsburgh and his alma mater, Nebraska, most recently. Sherman, a former NFL coach, also notes that he turned down numerous NFL jobs. Kennedy has helped develop future Pro Bowlers like Eddie George, Orlando Pace and Larry Fitzgerald throughout his career, which began at Nebraska in 1982, when he was a student assistant.

Texas Tech -- Joe Walker

Walker was at Auburn for two years before joining former Tigers coach Tommy Tuberville for each's first season in Lubbock. He's also coached at TCU, Kansas State and Pittsburgh since earning his Master's degree from Auburn in 2004 after earning a bachelor's degree from Lock Haven University in 2002.