Alabama football: New facility helps Tide stay ahead of the competition
Mar 03, 2013 (Montgomery Advertiser - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Build it and they will come.
In Alabama's case, the recruits are coming regardless of the bells and whistles.
But if you want to stay on top, you need to stay one step ahead of the competition. Alabama's new $9 million strength and conditioning center is designed to do just that.
While Nick Saban is famous for his carousel of assistant coaches that join his program, then bail out (or maybe burn out) in a couple of years, his strength and conditioning program is a constant. Throughout his years as a college head coach, he has had just three strength coaches -- Ken Mannie at Toledo and Michigan State, Tommy Moffitt at LSU and Scott Cochran at Alabama.
Cochran, obviously, knows how to please the boss. And when he conducted a walk-through of the facility with the media last week, he made it clear that the Taj Mahal of weightlifting buildings was Saban's idea and downplayed any input he may have had in the new facility.
"This is the boss's," Cochran said. "I just say 'yes sir." I ain't no fool. Coach Saban said this is how we want to do it (and I said), 'yes sir.' I'm not questioning that man. That's crazy."
It is, as you would expect, a state-of-the-art facility. While a weight room is a weight room to the casual observer, this one has a special floor that prevents you from having to build platforms to hold the equipment.
"This is all in-ground, the best of the best," Cochran said. "The players don't have to step up. They lose a weight, they don't have to step back and step down off the platform. Everything is laid in-ground, which helps me do everything I need to do on this floor, whether it be leg swings, whether it be pushups. We've got room for everything.
"This thing is not only top of the line, it is also functional for the player to be at his best and get the most work."
That sounds like something Saban would design, a way to squeeze 25 hours of work into a day. As Cochran observed, the new facility makes everything "easier," which he clarifies by saying easier means efficient. The open area is 21,000 square feet with lifting equipment and a special area that Cochran can use for special rehabilitation workouts of injured players. Near the front door is an area for the nutritionist to provide the proper snacks or fluids for players after a workout.
Upstairs, a 16,000-square-foot area includes a cardiovascular area for student-athletes of all sports.
"They can be up here all day, I could care less, as long as they're not down there by us," Cochran said. "Distractions are the biggest issue you have in college because everybody uses this weight room -- basketball has (a separate weight room), women's volleyball, women's basketball, they all have one, gymnastics has one, but they all can use this, and they all find time to use this.
"When they're in here, it's their party. Being up here, we don't have to set times for people to do extra cardio. I'm a big believer that if you keep working, you live longer."
Offices at the front of the upper level house trainers and team physicians.
There's even a state-of-the-art sound system, blaring out whatever type of music the athletes want to hear while they're getting stronger and better conditioned.
"It's whatever they like," Cochran said. "I could care less. I don't understand it, anyway."
The new facility, built between the indoor practice facility and the athletic complex with access to both, replaces the state-of-the-art 22,000-square-foot facility that opened in the athletic complex in 2004. That one, of course, wasn't designed by Nick Saban, hence the reason for a new one. (The old weight facility will be converted into a player's lounge and recreation area. We can only guess about the state-of-the-art video gaming system or whatever else that will be added to that area in the near future).
"Every day I walk in the door, you're humbled by this," Cochran said. "Why do I deserve this Why do any of our players deserve this place I've never seen anything like this in my life."
Judging by his tone, Cochran isn't sure why he needed a new weight room, but he's not going to argue with the boss. And if the results on the field are any indication, neither should anyone else.
Staying one step ahead of the competition is a large reason why Saban has made Alabama's football program the envy of every other college football program in America.
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