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Q&A with Bennie Wylie
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47Straight
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Joined: Tue Aug 14th, 2007
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 Posted: Tue May 19th, 2020 01:52 pm

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Meanwhile in other news, Snow White is down to six dwarfs. Apparently Sneezy is in quarantine.
:coffeecup::coffeecup::coffeecup::coffeecup::coffeecup::coffeecup:
Oklahoma strength coach Bennie Wylie says the most important trait for a person in his position is adaptability.
“If you can’t adapt and you can’t change with the scenarios that you’re faced with, then you’re dead in this profession,” Wylie said. “I think every coach has had to do that at some point, be able to adapt. You can’t worry about when this is going be over. Let’s just train today. Let’s work our butt off today. Do your best today.”

Wylie is getting a great chance to flex those muscles during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which for now has college athletic programs shut down with no clear end in sight. Last week, Sooners coach Lincoln Riley called the idea of bringing players back to campuses on June 1 “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

Summer strength and conditioning programs represent one vital piece of college football programs nationwide. At the least, Wylie will get only a condensed version of his summer program this year with the OU football players, most of whom have been in their respective hometowns since mid-March.

Players have access to different pieces of equipment at home. Some have traditional gyms available; some don’t have access to any weights at all. Thus, it’s been a unique challenge for Wylie and his staff, who are allowed to send some exercise equipment to players who need it.

But Wylie still is getting a chance to do some in-person training: Riley visits Wylie’s garage — filled with exercise equipment he’s accumulated throughout his career — daily, and the two engage in intensive training that often turns quite competitive.

Wylie spoke by phone about the current challenges of his job, how he’s keeping Oklahoma football players in shape from afar and his morning workouts with Riley.

First of all, how are you handling all of this?

Delicately, I would say. Just like every one of my peers out there, all our colleagues, we’re all doing the best that we can with the situation. It’s a small thing in comparison to the health and safety of our country, so I would say we’re handling it delicately. We want to make sure our guys are training and doing well — all of our athletes, for that matter, not just our football team. We do have some athletes that have full access. We have some that we’ve had to send NCAA-approved items that we can send them. And then we record videos for them and send those out and post those so they’re able to still train as if they were here. They just don’t get us with our loud encouragement in their face.

All of our athletes that could not get to a traditional gym, we’re able to send out bands and balls, TRX straps and those kinds of things. We were able to still train at a pretty high level with just a few items.

What about the guys who are still in Norman? Are they able to go to the facility and work out?

No, we’re 100 percent closed, locked down. Those guys in Norman who have kind of moved here, our older guys, for example, they’re in the same situation they would be if they were back home. They have to do things in their garage, or in their bedroom, or if their apartment complex has a gym, that kind of thing.

How much time are you going to need with your guys before they can play in a game?

I liken this to when I was a player (at Sam Houston State from 1994-97). It’s not exactly that, but we were sent home with a program, and we had to do that program. And when we came back to campus at the end of the summer, we had a conditioning test, we had check-ins, we had protocols that we followed. I would say that we’re going to follow that same model.

We’re going to check in with our athletic trainers and they’re going to do their part first. So when our guys get back on campus, they will follow all of our medical protocols. And then they’ll get with us, and we’ll follow all of their standards. We’ll check them in. We’ll do all of our metrics. We’re not going to put an athlete in danger, and they’re going to be physically ready before we put them on the field.

Are you designing these at-home workouts based on position group, or is everyone getting the same thing?

We do both. Everybody has a base program that we’re sending out and then, within my staff, we all have one position group that we are assigned to. I’ve got two. So we call our position guys, and we’re able to FaceTime and do some wellness checks and kind of check on our guys and monitor them that way.

Are there limits on how often you can talk to the players?

They can call us every day. We can call them every day. They cannot send us any of their workouts. They can’t report anything back to us, anything like that. Right now, they need us more not even for the training and the workouts, but for the, “Hey, coach, what’s going on? When can we come back? This is what I’ve got going on at home.”

So they need us for that day-to-day, and I think what the strength coach does a great job of, just as a profession, is being the big brother, the uncle that helps these guys navigate this time. They haven’t had as much life as we’ve had. We’ve never had anything like this, but we’ve had things that we’ve had to deal with that were tough situations.

I think that’s what our staff does a really good job of, just kind of reaching out to our guys and making sure that they’re doing OK.

When you started in this career, did you know that it would involve a lot of that stuff?

Yes, absolutely. That’s why I did it. I wanted to be a youth pastor growing up, kind of pouring into lives. My college strength coach, Ben Pollard, was probably one of the better examples. Even my high school head coach — he did all of our training, Paul Hurst. I saw what the weight room was able to do. You could touch everybody. You weren’t just a running backs coach, or whatever; you got to touch everybody and affect everybody, almost like the head coach.

I would never want to be a head coach because that comes with a whole different set of problems. But you still get to impact the lives of an offensive lineman, a defensive lineman, a quarterback, a punter and everybody in between. That’s actually the part that I love the most — you get to pour into these guys’ lives and help them grow up.

When did you decide that you’d go into coaching?

Really, meeting my college strength coach. I saw that’s kind of what we did. He was a man of faith and he still got to train. I love lifting. I love training. I love running. I love the progress, all the stuff that comes with it. But I also like pouring into my athletes, and my own coaching staff, like Coach (Alex) Grinch, I get to train with him often. Coach (Shane) Beamer, we train together. So you get this interaction that helps you on the football field.

So now I know these guys’ mindsets. I know how they think, and I know what drives our staff. I know how I can communicate with their players, what they’re feeling, their thoughts. It makes it this almost unspoken bond that I can talk and help all my position coaches.

So, how did it come to be that Lincoln was in your garage every morning working out?

I would say that started in about 2003. I coached him as a player at Texas Tech, and we’ve had a pretty close relationship. He was about like he is now then, just a little bit older, more mature guy. We trained together then. We have kind of continued that over the years.

So now, I just happen to, over the years, have collected a lot of stuff in the garage. It just happened to have paid off now. He comes over every morning at about 6:30. This is probably the most time he’s ever had to train in his head-coaching career. Most of our staff meetings and things like that don’t start until 9, so he’s had some time to just use this to think and create and plan for our team.

He’s a competitive dude. We’ve got this assault bike challenge that we’ve been on, even to the point where he coughed up blood a few days ago, trying to beat this challenge that we have on the assault bike to get 50 calories in under two minutes. He’s a hard-working, competitive dude in almost every area of his life. This is just another area where we get in, train and sweat, and we hardly talk about football. It’s just his outlet and his place to come in and work.

(The assault bike) is made from the devil. It’s not a leisurely stroll. You’re on there to work and it’s a grind. We try to compete with each other every day, and it’s kind of an unspoken competition. I know that if he gets this time, I’ve got to beat it, or if I go level 17 on the StairMaster, then he’s got to go level 18 on the StairMaster. I think it really helps me as a coach to stay in that “team captain” kind of mindset, where when I’m coaching my athletes, I still remember what it feels like for something to hurt, or for it to suck, or for it to be painful, and what I’ve got to tell myself to get through that. I think he likes that part, too. It helps keep him in that sharp mindset.

So who wins?

It’s about 50-50 right now. It depends on what it is. I’m still pretty strong for an old dude and he’s just in really good shape. We split about down the middle most days.

Last edited on Tue May 19th, 2020 01:52 pm by 47Straight


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