Tough Workouts Await Buffs This Summer

Strength and conditioning coach Jeff Pitman begins his new job at Colorado today. BSN spoke with Pitman about his background, his philosophies and his plans for the Buffaloes this summer.

(Editor's Note: This story appears in the Summer Issue of the Buffalo Sports New magazine. )

Pitman comes to Boulder after serving seven years as strength and conditioning coach at Boise State. He replaces Greg Finnegan, a popular strength and conditioning coach who was let go in April. Pitman played football at Boise State from 1990-92, and served as strength and conditioning coach at Montana State and San Jose State prior to returning to Boise.

Pitman brings to Boulder a reputation as a no-nonsense strength coach. In 2005, 49 BSU football players power cleaned 300 pounds or more, 53 benched 300 or more and 59 squatted 400 + pounds.

BSN: What made you want to take the job at Colorado?
Jeff Pitman:
I've been involved in college football for a long time as a player and a coach and a fan. Like I told our kids when I went up (to Boulder in late April), when I played at Boise State, we were a field goal away from going to the (Division I-AA) National Championship, and that same year, Colorado won their National Championship. So I've always known about Colorado, and I think it's a great program.

For my career and my goals in life – just being part of something special like that, it was a no-brainer for me.

BSN: How much of your experience as a college football player helps you being a strength coach?
Pitman:
I grew up on a dairy farm and I walked on at Boise State. I had three knee surgeries, and I wasn't a great player. But just through my work ethic and through what my strength coach taught me, if it wasn't for the weightroom setting, I wouldn't have made it as a college football player. I just fell in love with the weightroom, and I decided that's something I wanted to be a part of. I wanted to be part of helping guys out. I love watching young guys come in and developing over five years, and becoming great young men and great football players.

BSN: Was there a point during that time when you thought, ‘This is what I want to do for my career'?
Pitman:
Yeah, about my junior year in college, that's when I decided. I was going to go back on the farm and be a dairy farmer, but I thought, ‘This college life is pretty good.'

I just love college football. I love being around it. And I don't just mean Saturdays, I mean the whole process. Talking with these guys day to day and grinding with them, and seeing the results.

BSN: I know these days, the strength coach, during the summer, is the main contact person for the players.
Pitman:
That's what I'm talking about. You're basically elbow to elbow with these guys and you learn their inner-workings at the ground level. I get pretty jazzed up for a guy – you can see it in their eyes. You can tell when a guy is not there doing what he's supposed to do, and when he is. That's what I like about it.

BSN: Some guys are a little more difficult to motivate than others. What do you do with a kid who's not as diligent in the weightroom as you think he needs to be? How do you motivate him?
Pitman:
I've been at a few places now, and there's always a few guys – especially the younger guys when they first come in. They don't quite understand it. I think the best way to combat that is to create a culture that says, ‘Hey, when you come in as freshmen, this is what's expected of you, and this is what's going to happen to you.' The older guys kind of take care of the younger guys. That's something that we did a very good job of at Boise State. That's something that we're going to need to get going at Colorado if we want to be successful.

You're always going to have problems; you're always going to have guys that may not particularly want to lift that day, and you're going to have to find ways to get them going. But I think if the culture is there, nine times out of 10 you're going to get what you need out of them that day.

BSN: Do different positions need different kind of workout regimens?
Pitman:
The basics are the same for each position. I'm strongly based in Olympic lifting. Squatting and conditioning, that's kind of the main thing that we do.

When I first start there at Colorado, it's all going to be pretty basic because I'm trying to get to know them, and they're going to be trying to figure me out. But as time goes on, the longer I'm there, the more specialized we'll get. Especially in the summertime, we'll do different running and different lifting by groups.

It's a little bit new to me in Colorado because I haven't had as much help as I'll have in Colorado, and I'll be able to do some things I haven't been able to do at the San Jose States, and the Boise States and the Montana States.

BSN: What is the most important lift for a football player, if there is one?
Pitman:
Well, they're all important or otherwise I wouldn't do them. But if someone told me you can only do one thing, it'd be the power clean. To me, that covers the basics.

BSN: Do you have specific goals as far as getting a certain number of guys power-cleaning over 300 or squatting over 500 or what have you?
Pitman:
That's kind of the barometer we look for. Not everybody is going to be Hercules in the weightroom. But the big thing with me is that everybody is going up and getting positive results out of the (training) program, because if they're not, then something needs an adjustment.

But as a team, that's kind of what we do as far as goals. We look at those numbers very hard. Individually, like a senior, for example, they're older and they've been through the battles, and they're not going to be able to make as much gain as a freshman would. But as a team, we take a look at that and say, ‘OK, last year there were 43 guys over 300 (pounds) power clean, and we need to be 50 this time.'

Either you're getting better or you're getting worse. One or the other.

BSN: How much running and what type of running do you have planned for them this summer?
Pitman:
We're going to do a lot of agility work and some straight-ahead speed stuff. I did a lot of conditioning here (at Boise State) with these guys. I know when I went and visited (CU), the decks are a little bit different, but it looks like they've got some pretty good ramps and hills to run.

It's going to be tough for them. I'm going to make it hard for them. It's just going to be real simple stuff, but it's going to be intense and fast-paced, get in and get out type of things.

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