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60 Days ‘Til Alabama Football: “Just know, this little man creates monsters”

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The man behind the wins.

SEC Championship - Alabama v Florida Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Strength and conditioning coaches are underpaid for their contribution to a successful program. In addition to their roles in the weight room, they lead warm-ups, act as hype men, round up players, cheerlead when necessary, and act as the “get back, Coach”-coach (the unenviable task of pulling your boss on to the sidelines so he doesn’t get a penalty or fine.)

And, above all, the job is one of building a culture of excellence, of instilling leadership from the ground-up, of fostering a climate where those who are led do the leading. It is in this where Alabama’s success has been unparalleled.

“We run in the summer, we do some thing that, if you look scientifically, it makes no sense. It’s just really difficult,” Cochran said on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. “For this month of June, I’m going to find out what your heart is. We’d do stadium runs early in the morning and then come back in the weight room when you can’t even walk down the stadium because your legs are sinking like a salt-shaker, and you walk in the door and we’re heavy back-squatting.

“I feel like the program changed when it went from me telling a player, ‘This is what we do,’ to where I saw Rolando McClain and Julio Jones slap a player and say, ‘No, no, no. This is what we do, and this is why we win. We’re going to do really heavy legs after a whole week of work and right after stadiums, too. So take that 315 off the bar and put another Cadillac on, because we’re going to go 405 for the second set.’ Just the mentality changed.”

There is no offseason for those that must condition others for the season. It is a thankless task for these mostly-anonymous coaches. With one notable exception: Scott Cochran.

He is, as he says, the man that builds monsters.

The trope of “playing for three quarters to win the fourth,” would not be possible without Cochran’s hyper-frenetic, upbeat and sometimes-terrifying brand of conditioning. At Alabama at least, he is far from anonymous. Cochran is the voice of the program in Bryant-Denny. He is the face of the weight room. He is a folk hero. And, unlike many in his profession, he is paid handsomely for that work: $600,000 and counting — that is more than 20 head coaches make.

As we’ve learned, a team has to play all sixty minutes; championships are won and lost on 59:59 effort. More often than not, Alabama has benefited from the conditioning to make it happen: It is the other team that is left gasping, bleeding, weary, and shying away from contact. The 133 wins in Nick Saban’s Alabama tenure would not be possible without him. Here’s to 15 more in ‘17.

Finish the drill. Just 60 days left ‘til Alabama football.

Roll Tide