Former Nebraska strength and conditioning guru Boyd Epley talked to the Omaha World-Herald's Dirk Chatelain about his thoughts on "energy systems" and how many coaches don't understand how the body of an athlete actually works in competition.
It's obvious right away that Epley has a fundamental disagreement with former Husker strength and conditioning coach Dave Kennedy, though he does his best to avoid throwing him under the bus.
"One of the things that made Nebraska successful, which is a little controversial, is running. We did not run as often or as far as a lot of people do. Sport coaches tend to overdo that. They do it for mental toughness, for whatever reason. But the way the body works and the way the game of football is played, there's need for recovery after each play. There's a burst during the play and then a recovery period.
"The body has an energy system that has three parts. The part that football uses only has about six or eight seconds of fuel. So during the rest period of a football game, the tank refills so that you have full power on the next play. If you train football players properly, they will have a great burst, then great recovery and be fully ready for the next play."
Keep in mind that Dave Kennedy was a big believer in having distance running, having offensive linemen running long distances, even timing linemen over the summer in a 2 mile run.
Q: What did you notice about the strength and conditioning program under Kennedy, who has since moved on to Texas A&M, and Bill Callahan, now with the New York Jets?
Epley: "There were some things that needed to be changed, but it wasn't my role to change them. It was (Kennedy's) program. There were some things I would've changed, but those things were probably better left unsaid."
Listening to Epley, you've really got to question Dave Kennedy's methods. Kennedy's methods might not be too bad for a wide receiver like the Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald, who swore by Kennedy. For a wide receiver running all over the field, endurance running might pay off when sprinting 30 or 40 yards play after play. But for the men in the trenches, not so much.
Epley remains loyal to former athletic director Steve Pederson, praising him for being creative. That being said, he also recognizes Pederson's faults, though he points out that Pederson deserves some credit.
"Now he made some bad decisions, maybe hired some people that were the wrong people for Nebraska. He's gotten a bad rap, and there's a lot of people that don't like Steve. ... Whether people like it or not, a lot of things he put into place are still being used today. He did a lot of good things for the state of Nebraska."
To be fair to Pederson, not everything he touched turned to manure. The office complex in the North Stadium appears to be top notch, and the finances of the athletic department seem to be in good shape. Pederson also held off on ticket price increases and created game day amenities such as the pregame pavillion.
But while he's loyal to Pederson, he's even more loyal to Nebraska and the athletic department:
Q: What do you think of the changes at NU since you left?
Epley: “I was very happy to see Tom Osborne named athletic director. The word I used then was ‘healing.' The state needed Tom Osborne."
Epley likes the direction James Dobson is moving the strength program at Nebraska, even though he wasn't familiar with Dobson before he arrived at Nebraska:
“I think he's young and energetic. His philosophy is very good. It looks like Nebraska is back on track ..."