Greg Finnegan Interview — Part I

Greg Finnegan is into his 10th month as CU's strength and conditioning coach. Finnegan has been the main coach overseeing the CU football players during the offseason, and the Buffs have just finished a nine-week workout regimen in preparation for spring practices, which begin April 2. We sat down with Finnegan to get his thoughts on the offseason, specific workouts, and how he thinks the players have handled the controversy that's surrounded the program the past six weeks.

Here is Part I of the interview:

Buffalo Sports News: What's your favorite part of your job?
Greg Finnegan: Working with the kids. The energy and enthusiasm of the kids, that's what makes our job and the hours that we put in worthwhile.

BSN: You've been here about 10 months now. Do you feel like your system is completely implemented?
GF: I won't until I go through everything once. But, yeah, the system's implemented with all our sports, all our coaches. So we're pretty much implemented. We've got everything going pretty much the way we want them to go.

There's changes we need to make to the weight room, but it's stuff that's going to take time. Time and money.

BSN: When you say ‘go through everything once,' for instance you haven't been through spring ball yet?
GF: Right, we haven't been through spring ball yet. So I'll feel like I've got my feet on solid ground when we go through spring ball and we're right back where I started last year. Even though we've got a plan for it, I haven't done spring ball in six years. I've been doing mini camps. But we're excited about it.

BSN: What are some of the differences of working with pro athletes and college athletes?
GF: College kids listen more. That's for sure. I'm not saying that negatively about the pro athletes, but when you get a lot of money and you get a lot of people talking to you, it's a lot different. These guys listen a lot more.

And this team, they work. I've been so impressed with the work ethic of our athletes and our coaches. Our coaches instill a work ethic into these kids that's got to be second to none. It's definitely stronger than when I was at Boston College or Kansas State. Our kids practice harder at anything we go through.

Gary (Barnett) and the staff has done a great job with them. Our kids, I mean, we work. And they practice hard.

BSN: What have been the main goals for the football team this offseason?
GF: Our main goal for this offseason was we wanted to get stronger. We knew we needed to get stronger, so we put an emphasis on that. We adjusted the calendar. Spring ball used to start before Spring Break, and then they'd come back and finish. Gary allowed us to push that back until after spring ball. So we've had nine weeks of training to get the guys stronger, then we'll come back and focus for three weeks on football.

BSN: What kind of stuff have you been doing to get stronger?
GF: From the very start we lifted four days a week. And then we ran three days a week. We've got a little thing out there called the Dirty Dozens that we do. That's a little set program that we've done for the past four weeks.

But the big things was we got four solid weight workouts a week. We set them up and they lifted in groups. We had 7:30, a 1 and a 2:30 group. So the entire team trained at one of those times. We had about 30 guys in a group on average. It was great, because we had nine weeks of solid weight training without interruption. It was real good.

BSN: Explain the Dirty Dozens?
GF: What we did was we divided them into teams. And the seniors had a draft. We had 10 seniors as captains, and they drafted their Dirty Dozen teams. We had six stations of agility drills, with every station competitive. So one team would win the drill at each station. You'd get four chances at each station, with the amount of time we had.

And after every workout, we'd post whoever won. The winner got so many points, and we held a Dirty Dozen championship.

After all the stations, they've got to run 12 perfect sprints. It's a tradition. And by perfect, I mean on a whistle they sprint up to the line. The next whistle they sprint off the line and run. There's no bending over, you can't even bend over in the back of the line. And the whole team's got to do it right. If one guy screws up, a coach throws a flag and it doesn't count.

Our guys took it to another level. They know we've got to win 13 games to win the national championship next year. So when we got done with 12, they demanded to run a 13th.

The sprints at the end are for a couple of things. One of the main reasons is mental toughness. You've got to be tough because the agility drills are all competitive, so you've just worked yourself for 30-35 minutes -— you're going to be tired. And it's also a discipline thing. You've got to focus when you're tired. You've got to be disciplined.

We did it by class. So the sophomores ran together, the juniors, the seniors. And when your whistle came, you stood up and got down in your stance and made sure you were all on the line.

So it becomes a discipline type thing and a mental toughness issue. They were pretty awesome.

I know the longest day, we ran 40 to get 13 perfect sprints.

BSN: What was the fewest number?
GF: One day we ran 14. One guys screwed up once, but that was it.

Part II of the interview will be posted Monday.

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