Even though this is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year for most people, it can be a very stressful time on strength coaches and their families. I am writing this article to shed some light on the reality of what really goes on in this profession. I am not trying to scare some people away, but this is the unbiased truth.

The end of the year, especially for football strength coaches, is a mess. Coaches are getting hired, fired, promoted, demoted — a complete carousel. The guy that you have sworn loyalty to, the guy you and your staff has busted their ass for, suddenly gets a job at a “bigger” school for all the success you guys have been having. Immediately the rumors start: are you going with him? People start calling and texting you about getting on your new staff, you start looking at houses (and schools if you have kids) at this new place. You are excited, coming off a successful season and bowl game and you are ready for a new challenge. Then a funny thing happens: the coach stops taking your calls and answering your texts. You reach him at one point and he says I have been busy recruiting; I will get this done when recruiting is over. Two months away. And now a new staff is coming into your school and you have to interview for your position.

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The new coach says he'll make the decision after—you guessed it—recruiting. So now you are in a state of limbo with rumors circulating, no athletes to train due to break, no vacation time because you are terrified to leave the building thinking that someone from the new staff will show up to get in a three-minute coaches workout and you won’t be there, so you will never get the job.

Finally recruiting is over, and the new coach (who knew all along) says he is bringing in his guy from another school. So he strung you out, and I can only hope that you have a proactive administration that will at least let you finish up a contract, or put you with other sports.


You desperately reach out to the coach that left and he says (and he knew all along) that the school says he has to keep the guy that is already there for a year on a trial basis. Boom: you're out. I have had this happen to me and I have friends that are out of jobs that could out coach anyone. Some have worked for coaches for years, have had unparalled success, and their head coach retires and leaves everyone in the lurch while he heads to his new beach house.

I know these kinds of things happen in all walks of life, but this year really has me shaking my head. The head coaches are making so much money we do not matter to them, and it takes a strong coach to add one more person to his coaching staff: you. They will fight for all their other positions, especially at the beginning so they can go out and recruit, and forget all about the strength coach until they get back to school and say, "hey, I need someone to work these players out." By then you either hate the guy, have found a new job, or are stocking shelves at Walmart wondering what you are going to do with all the free time you have on your hands.

It is a vicious cycle; one you have to think long and hard about when getting into this profession. It is a killer on families, and moving kids from school to school is about as fun as using poison ivy as toilet paper. I know it is all fun and games when you are young, but when you put in the time and begin to see things a little different you will understand what I am talking about. I guess what I am trying to say is  that you should go into this thing with both eyes open. Make sure your long term goals fit into the collegiate strength coach lifestyle.

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There are a lot more factors that are out of your control than most coaching positions. In this society, especially with social media, one slip up and you’re done. What people think they see or hear may as well be the truth, because in this business perception is reality. If some bozo writes one dumb thing in the paper or misquotes someone, all of the sudden you’re the worst strength coach in the world. You have to be on your A Game 100% of the time, or you're screwed. Everyone is trying to get your job.

The reality is that there are only a certain amount of head jobs out there, and everyone wants it. You have to do everything you can do to make yourself bulletproof. To be honest, I wish I could just lift and run our players and not deal with all the other bullshit you have to deal with to make yourself more valuable — but that is what has to be done. We as strength coaches are asked to wear many different hats and play many different roles within our teams. We have to help in every way possible. It is the nature of the beast, especially because of the time and the relationships we build with our athletes.

A collegiate football player spends 80% of his career with his strength coach. We have the greatest chance to influence these athletes, and we should never take it lightly. That is what makes it a rewarding profession: helping these athletes get better and achieve their dreams. Not as easy as it sounds, but the best part. The rest, you can throw into the trash can. I wish all the coaches going through limbo hell right now the best of luck, especially those I have had the pleasure of working with or against over the years. I hope you all get one soon. To the newcomers — look ahead to your future, figure out what you really want to do with your life, and go do it.  Just do not look at this profession and go into it because it looks like fun. It is a job with risks and rewards, hopefully more of the latter.  Good luck and Happy Holidays.