You read so many bullshit memes now-a-days with the fake bravado and shallow inspiration that is becomes so watered-down. We get cliche' motivation shoved down our throats about how people are "proving their haters wrong" and showing the weight who the f**k we are" and it desensitizes us to anything we read and hear. When there is something that is impactful, we have to strain it through all the other BS that is the internet motivation.

This is the opposite of trolling. It may be annoying and unoriginal but not quite as cowardly. One thing to understand for everyone: If you are judging someone based on their Instagram or Twitter followers, I feel really bad for you.

More from Brian Cain
I try to listen to Brian Cain's podcasts as much as possible. I heard a 30 second segment from when he was being interviewed on the "hot seat" where he opened up, showed vulnerability and I instantly connected with it. Once of the mistakes Brian talked about that he has done is something I have done in the past as well.

Be Aware of Who you Become in Pursuit of What You Want

This really hit me. I usually don;t have many regrets in life. Wait, you know what, scratch that, I have plenty of regrets. But, I don't think most are because I picked my work over family, or didn't do everything I could to help my athletes. I think my biggest regrets are when I sacrificed who I was as a coach, mentor, and person for the overall success of the team. There were times in my career that I failed to show courage and standing up for what is right just so I didn't "rock the boat" in an organization. Here's an example of what I mean:

Back with the Big Red

After coaching at what I thought was my dream job at the United States Military Academy, my wife and I decided to move back to Ohio for family reasons. Her parents had some health issues (my wife donated her kidney to her dad when she was in college) and my brother-in law just passed away. I ended up taking a job back at Denison University for $18,000. This time I was the Director of S&C and the Defensive Line Coach. It was an awkward situation because I ended up working for the guy (the DC) that replaced me. To say we had different coaching philosophies was an understatement.

I learned pretty early in my career that relationships with your athletes are the building blocks of unparalleled effort, attitude, and loyalty. This lesson came three-fold during my career.

The first time was at Clarion when we were recruiting a Junior College kid names Devon Lybertus (how do I remember that) from California. Devon would only have one year to play for us. He would have started at RB so half of our staff was all about it. Two new coaches to the staff, Barry Fagan and one of my mentors in coaching, Jim Glogowski (HFC at Simpson College now) didn't agree with the decision to scholarship him for one year. This would leave him having to pay out of pocket in order to graduate after his eligibility was up. I didn't care but later realizes that would have been a reckless decision on our part for sure.

The second lesson was when I was at Allegheny College as the D-Line Coach. I had to move a transfer kid (who had the biggest arms in D3 football) down the depth chart. Nice kid, but he was stiff and we had other kids that were better. I didn't want to hurt the kid's feelings and told him some bullshit about "changing some things up". My head coach who I couldn't stand at the time (I now realize how much I learned from him) asked me if I told him that he was moved down the depth chart because he wasn't as good as the other player? I said no (that would have been mean, I thought.) "Well then you lied to him." And that was 10 times worse than benching him.

The third lesson I got was from Shawn Griswold. Shawn is the head S&C coach at Arizona State. I interned for him at Tulsa and one thing he said to me that may not have meant as much until I seen it happen every day was this (I will paraphrase).

"These guys will run through a wall for us and do anything we ask them to do because they know we care about them."

He was right. They never questioned his knowledge or motivation. They saw his consistent fairness and his passion to get those players better in every aspect of performance. They never had to question the why.

Now, here I was at Denison after a year and a half hiatus working for a guys who did not believe in the importance of building positive relationships and making young men better young men.

Maybe it was because my last year there (two years before) we had our best record in 15 years and was in the top 4 in the conference in every defensive category. Maybe it was because the year I was gone they grossly underachieved. Maybe it was 22 kids from the year before quit the team. Whatever it was people were scared to death, including the head coach and even players, that I was going to divide the team and cause a mutiny or some stupid shit. I heard the concerns. They got in my head. And, I did everything I could to make sure I was on board with the DC and acted as submissive as a coach should ever act, just to make sure we were mentally healthy and there was no drama.

I am still to this day disappointed in myself because I wasn't the best coach I knew I could be for the sake of another coach's ego. So I catered to a coach who had no loyalty or respect to me, the head coach, or the players; just so things would go smoother. In actuality, conflict would have been what we needed to keep everyone's egos in check and the reasons why they coach in the first place, evident.

Every once in a while, I find myself drifting and going out of my way to make someone happy that does not have the company's or my own best interest in mind. Again, I have to remind myself:

At the end of the day, am I closer to the person I want to be?

So I have established how blindly trying to reach professional goals actually jeopardized my character. I wanted to give another example of how I made the my perception of competence effect my confidence, thereby selling my athletes short.

Todd Hamer wrote an outstanding article on the subject that is worth the read for any coach called Confidence or Competence.

The most thankless jobs in football
If you are a small college football coach that you will almost always have a secondary assignment, sometimes two.

Division II and III programs often do not have a director of Football ops, video coordinator, or a special teams coach without coaching a position. Out of all the possible assignments, some are more coveted than others.

Recruiting Coordinator is always sought after because it almost always helps with the next job because it's on the resume and the experience will help no matter what the next stop is in your career.

Strength & Conditioning is ok, but adds the most work during the entire year. Academic coordinator can be the same, depending on the school.

A few of the secondary assignments are not so good to have. Special Teams, Film Coordinator, and Travel are all tough assignments for one main reason:

You only get noticed when something bad happens. Special Teams aren't as bad as film and travel. No one really knows you are in charge of either until the film is f'ed up or the buses are late.

Special Teams is a tough assignment because of the workload. Even if you have some other assistants helping you with game planning, personnel and scout teams, it is still a daunting task. Because of this, a lot of staffs break these up.

In most cases Kick-Off Return and Punt teams are considered the most important because of the importance in the field position exchange. Punt has the added distinction of being a high pressure special team due to the amount of negative vs positive outcomes. There could be a bad snap, it could get blocked, or you can give up a big return.

Punt Return is usually the least amount of drama with more positive outcomes. Even if you don't get a return, you still get the ball back. That's why as long as you get someone back to return with guts that will catch the ball, it will still be a positive play for the most part. But, punt return went from a matter or pride to contention and back to pride for me.

"To the House"

There are 5 basic rules of Punt Return
1. Stay onside
2. Stay off the punter
3. Catch the ball
4. Don't block in the back
5. Alert everyone of a short kick.

Although the punt return teams have had some negatives happen over the course of my coaching career, for the most part we had been one of the top teams in the conference in net returns. Until one play made my lose confidence and questions my competence as a coach.

Coaching football is a game of thievery. You steal as much as you can from as many other coaches as you can. There is not much that is new of different, just a different way to teach it and present it to your players.

courtesy Denison University Sports Information

courtesy Denison University Sports Information

Spartan Race
Playing Case Western at home on year as touch as we had played them in many years. My time coaching against them, we only beat them once in 2004. They had some playoff teams and had our number. We had them against the ropes in 2011 and aside from a few turnovers, should have been ahead.

They had a weird hybrid between a spread punt (NFL style) and a shield punt (most colleges) for a long time and had faked a punt on us in the past (back in 2009). We had them pinned deep and came after the punt. Versus shield punts, the best way to secure a fake is to come after it contrary to a spread punt.

A few rules when blocking punts:

  1. Aiming point should be around 11 yards, depending on stride of punter (most are at 14 1/2.
  2. Interlock your thumbs or wrists
  3. Keep your hands below your eyes
  4. Don't jump, take the ball of the punter's foot.

Regardless of those 4 rules, we roughed the punter anyway. We schemed them, which is hard to do, they have a great staff. We had a guy free and still couldn't get a piece of it.

After that I got scared. The next time they punted, we should have came after it again. I got scared, didn't show confidence in my kids, called a return and they faked it. Not saying we shouldn't have had on of our 11 guys tackle this mother f*cker (he was also the starting QB and a transfer from Pitt), but I this dude scored on a fake punt. Took us out of the game. I was in tears, apologized to the whole staff, and never was the same coach in terms of special teams again.

The next year we changed our punt return scheme. We left the defense on the field (as in safe return) and put 2 returners back. I was determined not to let anyone fake another punt on us. This is competing with the attitude. "I will not miss any weights anymore. I will just take really safe attempts without going for PRs."

Of course we were awful. Some teams can get away with 2 returners like on KOR but we couldn't. Just two different and having D-line and LBs on the field made us slow.

Finally, about 4 games into the season, we evaluated the personnel realized we didn't have our best players on the field. We had some really good athletes and football players we weren't using every much and special teams is the best way to utilize them. I remember like yesterday when Jack Hatem (the Head FB Coach and one of my mentors) told me. "We've have had one of the best return teams in the conference since 2008. We had one fake punt for a TD and we abandoned everything because you got scared"

In two sentences, I got huge wake up call and a confidence booth at the same time. So, I got the help of the other coaches with personnel and we started to scheme based on ours and our opponents.

We had a rivalry game against the College of Wooster that week. They had a unique punt formation and we ended up blocking a punt and had two returns over 30 yards.

What I learned was not to doubt who I was as a coach because of one play. We can all learn that as a lifter, you are not one meet, one attempt, one training cycle. As an athlete, you are not one play or one game. And as a coach, we are not one training session, one game, or one call.

It took me two seasons to be the coach I knew I was capable of being again. My players suffered because of it.

Some lessons take longer than others.


SS Yoke Bar Squat (Eccentric)

  • 260 x 5
  • 260x4
  • 260x3 (video)
  • 260x2
  • 260x1

supersetted w/ box jumps

Eccentric Glute-Ham Raises

  • 1x10

Incline Dumbbell YTLWSs Dropset

  • 5s x6 per
  • 5s x4 per


Barbell High-Pull from Hang

  • 245x5
  • 195x5
  • 195x5

Buffalo Bar Bench Press (Eccentric)

  • 250 x 5
  • 250x4
  • 250x3 (video)
  • 250x2
  • 250x1

Neutral Grip Pull-Up

  • Grip 1 x5
  • Grip 2 x4
  • Grip 1 x3
  • Grip 2 x2
  • Grip 1 x1 (10 sec ecc)