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Entries in college football (53)

Beast Mode + Workout Notes

The workout on Friday was probably the first time in a while that I felt like I really messed up at the sessions; we needed to do the back squats from the racks so we could go heavier. But this really got me thinking a lot about barbell strength and lifting heavy weights. This is a topic that I ponder and has been covered on this site a handful of times - most famously in the editorial What is Strength? from the glory days of 2015. This topic also popped up in my head while watching college football over the weekend and seeing players continuously tap their helmet to ask for a sub, and also at our basketball open gym while noticing how much more our kids complained about getting fouled when they were tired. And also watching Planet Earth II.

I really, really think CrossFit hit the nail on the head with how they approach building strength. If you can do a 400-lb. deadlift then big ups to you. If you can do a 300-lb. deadlift in the middle of a brutal workout with running and pull-ups mixed in, then you are a different breed of beast.

Strength, in real life, is very, very rarely expressed at full rest. The ability to be strong, - in as many varieties as possible, while being tired is something that I need, you need, my grandma needs, baby Josh needs, and Shea Patterson needs. (Chase Winovich seems to have that covered.) A lot of attention was given last year to Saquon Barkley cleaning 400-lbs.

This is absurd. I would also love to see what his capacity would be doing Elizabeth (even if he needed to up the weight to 155 or 185 pounds). I think most coaches and programs will be blending strength with conditioning sometime in the future - probably when the younger coaches move up in the ranks - but until then it's mostly theoretical, though backed with some good anecdotes.

As far as our gym goes, it's tough to judge purely by numbers because of the variety of athletes. Alexis Anthes is a high school sophomore with 3 months of CrossFit experience and an average strength base coming from Coach T. NuNu is an 8th grader who's feet might well have never both been off the ground at the same time before joining in May. Jay is Jay. Mrs. Pip is Mrs. Pip. Saporito, Elizabeth, and Cecilia are all back in college. I would say Katie Shakes has a perfect capacity of being strong while tired, but then I'll watch her do a push-up in Cindy and reconsider.

Mostly, I judge things based on my gut feeling. We had to get our technique on point at the end of the spring/start of Summer, then we needed to build some stamina in the legs and feet. Now I really think it will help us to feel some heavier weight in the workouts. I don't like it. And Murley/Shannon might not come back until we're through this phase, but I think it's a big part of getting a great effect from workouts like Friday or today. I don't really want any 500-lb. deadlifters, or 300-lb. cleaners, but I would like to see what kind of capacity we can develop with heavier weights within the confines of a workout.

What does this look like? Well as luck would have it, our 8:30 am session did a nice job of showing us this morning.

Normally, Mrs. Pip would have been at 65 lbs., Schornack at 25 or 35 lbs., and Mrs. Kroll at 35 lbs.; here they were at 85, 45, and 55 respectively. Not huge increases, not a weight that would be a big sick of injury, just a little extra something that might require them to slow down a bit and really zone in on the lift. I thought the technique was really good considering it was the third round. Yes, it was technically supposed to be a power clean, but as long as the squat position looked good I wasn't going to mention anything; they already had enough on their mind. Either way, all three were able to keep their positions pretty well with a weight heavier than usual.

More to come!

In Defense of Durkin and Friends

On Tuesday we did a 1-mile time trial as our workout. Danielle Schornack is bad at running, out of shape, and addicted to her asthma inhaler. So I took her inhaler from her and had her run an all-out 800m - which she pr'd - then tricked her into running another one - which she pr'd again.

The next day she bought me two packs of Starbursts.

On August 21, 2014 we did "Elizabeth," which is easily one of the worst short/intense benchmark workouts every created. Our soon to be Athlete of the Summer, Jason, was lined up against JZ and I challenged them to find "that place" and stay there. They agreed and I relentlessly held them accountable to that the entire workout.

JZ showed me his first breakdown, and that was basically the end of Jason at the Champions Club. I would love to have that one back.


So in June, a kid on Maryland's football team died following a workout. The strength coach, Rick Court, came under fire because - I never read the entire story but my assumption is - he probably called him names and questioned his toughness in not-so-polite ways when the kid in question didn't perform well in a conditioning drill. And I'm also assuming he, Court, probably didn't take action after the kid was showing bad signs after the workout. This trickled upstream to the head coach (and former Michigan defensive coordinator) DJ Durkin because he apparently adds to this kind of intimidating atmosphere in the locker room and such.

I actually got the chance to meet Rick Court at the MSU clinic I did with Coach T. He presented after our weight room portion (if I recall correctly) and ended up complimenting us on our presentations. He talked about in-season training and the importance it played in a year-round strength and conditioning program. The specifics were whatever, but he left no doubt his goal was to keep players as safe as humanly possible in a game like football. And if I was a football coach who didn't know - or care to know - the specifics of loading the prime movers, periodization and scaling in programming, and post-game recovery, Rick Court would sound like a worthy candidate for my trust.

Look, I have no idea what should happen to those coaches. I understand that Rick Court failed on a test in an irreversable way. And I've watched enough of the Black Pearl to understand that The Captain Goes Down With The Ship. But I also know what it's like to look at Abby Walker and Sam Butcher as they are running in 90 degree weather, crying in panic as they struggle to breathe, and wonder if that's just them being soft, or if there's something legit going on. My job is to help people become the best versions of themselves they possibly can, and if they get away with being soft, then I fail. But if they quit, or get seriously injured, then I fail on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's a really, really difficult line to walk, and I know I've only been doing it for 9 years or so, but it doesn't seem to get much more comfortable.

I also know what it is like to have someone working under me act in a way - without me knowing - that I don't necessarily see as a great representation of the Champions Club. Am I ultimately responsible? Yes. Is there something I can do about it? Only in retrospect, which doesn't exist.

As Nas said, "when the pistol blows, the one that's murdered be the cool one." That kid is somewhere right now with his ancestors looking down on us with a surpreme understanding. Meanwhile his parents, siblings, and friends are mourning a loss I am incapable of understanding. But I can promise the two people who feel the absolute worst about the entire thing are 1) Rick Court and 2) DJ Durkin. I feel what they feel on a small scale, and can't imagine what it's like for this to happen on a national arena.

New Graduate: Josh Sinagoga Moving Up the Ladder

Summer 2013 was a really great season in Champions Club lore, and one of the ring leaders for that was my cousin, Josh. He was entering his final year as Northwood University's backup quarterback and decided he wanted to come and train with us while he was home for the summer. The bonus for us was that be brought in 3 of his teammates to join in: Ryan "Buzz" Spicuzzi, Cam Jackson, and the infamous Alex Faust.

After his playing career concluded, Josh worked his way onto Central Michigan's coaching staff, first as a "quality control" coach, then as a grad assistant where he worked with the receivers. Through a bunch of connections and other interwebs through various coaching trees, Josh landed himself an interview at the University of Iowa last week. He called me tonight to let me know that he got the job and is headed Iowa City as we speak!

Josh is officially a B1G coach!

As far as I know, he'll be working with the receivers again, and working under the Offensive Coordinator. Not sure what the protocol is about travelling to games or recruiting, but I guess he'll find out when he gets there.

Aside from being my cousin, I love hearing about people who are okay with the grind for as long as it takes to get where they want to go. I think with his work ethic and dedication, Josh is going to be a Power-5 Offensive Coordinator 10 or 15 years from now. Keep it going lil bro!

Bonus footage: Josh vs. Buzz, 21-15-9 deadlift and squat. Summer 2013 (also you can spot Jay and Shannon there as well)

National Signing Day Stories

For those of us obsessive enough to follow high school kids and their decisions to play college, yesterday was one of the most important days of the year: National Signing Day. Football recruits from all over the country made their decisions on which college they would be playing for (Michigan's did not turn out that well on paper, at least). But the glorious coverage was all day on the ESPN networks and it has become so popular that most kids make an event out of it - which I don't necessarily see as a bad thing.

SB Nation had an article earlier this month that highlights the weirdest announcements we have seen on National Signing Day. This came just before this happened yesterday:



That is Jacob Copeland's mom walking out after he didn't pick Bama. Never a dull moment in College Football.

Quote of the Week vol. 223

Me: "Would you have done anything differently in high school, knowing what you know now?"

David: "Yeah, I would have played football in the fall - not cross country - and basketball in the winter, then just ran the 800 for track in the spring. And not worried about trying to run in college."

Me: "But wouldn't you want to be able to say that you're a D1 athlete?"

David: "No, because saying that doesn't matter unless it's football or basketball. Nobody else cares."

There is an editorial in the works about the criteria for playing college sports. Stay tuned.

Poll: Alternate Uniforms

This Saturday, Michigan stormed out of the tunnel showcasing all-maize uniforms supposedly for the first time since the 1920's. Some of the more traditional college teams - Alabama, Penn State, USC, Michigan - have historically iconic uniforms and anything straying from tradition is often frowned upon. But on the other hand the alternate uniforms are definitely attractive to a cerrtain crowd.

So, do you like Michigan's all-maize uniforms? Should they wear them again this season?

Quote of the Week vol. 205

"Don't tell your problems to people: eighty percent don't care; and the other twenty percent are glad you have them."

- Lou Holtz.