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TTU's $2.6 million men
For years, the Tennessee Tech football team was working out in some of the worst conditions imaginable. A leaking roof. Outdated equipment. A room that could almost have been confused with a closet.
After years of fundraising, the TTU athletic department opened up its new Athletic Performance Center earlier this year, and it’s already made a major impact.
“It’s been unbelievable,” said Tech strength coach Chip Pugh. “We’ve seen gains in this offseason that have doubled what we’ve seen before. It’s been so good for us.”
Tech coach Watson Brown added, “What a difference it’s made. The strength gains this spring and summer since we got in it, already in just half a year, the strength gains are just unbelievable. When (TTU athletics director) Mark (Wilson) and I sat down after I got here, there was a long, long list of things that had to be done. Getting that done is going to be a big part for us.
“I’ve always said the strength coach is the most valuable person on the staff in football. He’s with them more than anybody else. He’s in their heads more than anybody else. Everybody thinks it’s the head coach. I’m with them probably even less than some of the assistants. Strength coaches are very, very important.”
Pugh oversees the $2.6 million facility, which was completed in January with its official grand opening in April. Changing from a dilapidated facility to a state-of-the-art one was a huge plus for the program.
“You have to understand,” Brown said, “we went from the worst strength and conditioning building in (Football Championship Subdivision) football to maybe the best. I think it is the best. That’s a big plus for us. I think you’ll see a difference in football from that growth – in a strength way in the players that are here, you’ll see recruiting get better. It’s all a process. There’s such a fine line in not just winning, but winning big, or winning or being just .500. It’s all just a small part. It might be one player. Freshmen nearly aren’t factors in football like they are in other sports – maybe a skill guy here or there. It’s mostly juniors and seniors. But you have to bring them in and get them bigger and stronger. If there’s not a difference from when they were a freshman into their junior or senior season, then you’re probably not going to win a lot of games.”
The APC was a major part of the Golden Eagles’ offseason routine.
“We trained five days a week most weeks,” Pugh said, “four days on some others. We trained in the mornings and afternoons. We ran a ton, of course, but we were able to because of having an air-conditioned place and a nice place finally. We were able to lift weights, too, so the guys were able to climb in their strength and get in better condition.”
There’s almost no comparison with this year’s conditioning to previous years.
“We’ve got the strongest team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Pugh said. “I believe we’re the most conditioned in specifics to football. With Coach Brown’s fast-paced system, we tried to prioritize doing something every 30 seconds. That’s the way his offense will run, so we did something new, something explosive every 30 seconds. Those guys are ready.”
Of course, this is just the first year using the new facility. There’s still a lot more that can be done with time.
“We’re so excited to see where the freshmen now will be in four years,” Pugh said. “You can see the gains they’ve made in one year. Then if you multiply that by four, it’s going to be just crazy just how great they do.”
Then again, there’s another bonus for the state-of-the-art facility.
“I can’t wait to try to recruit to that,” Brown said. “I haven’t even had that opportunity yet. We recruited to just visions of it and already the class was better because of it.”
by Thomas Corhern, Herald Citizen