Though you can't believe everything you read or hear during the process of a coaching change, when it comes to long-time strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo and his success, you can take it to the bank. The man gets results in his strength and conditioning program and Notre Dame fans will soon learn he's the biggest hire outside of Brian Kelly.
Having a brother who played college football at West Virginia University, I was given a chance to see one of the best strength and conditioning coaches in the country, Al Johnson, do his work.
Johnson was a major reason West Virginia had great success under Don Nehlen during his 20-plus year coaching career and he did more than just have players ready to compete at the college level. He also was there to help them reach the NFL.
I'm not here trying to compare the work Johnson did in Morgantown with the work Paul Longo has done since teaming with Brian Kelly, but the outcome has been on par or greater since the duo hooked up in 2004 at Central Michigan.
Paul Longo is more than a guy sitting in a small dark room full of metal plates watching football players go through the motions of getting bigger, stronger and faster. In fact, Longo is the most important person in the whole football program. The work he and his staff will do at Notre Dame will play a major role in the Irish returning to greatness.
But what makes Paul Longo different than the hundreds of college strength coaches across the country? The results!
While Coach Longo is not an official coach on the football team, players soon learn he's tuned into what is going on in the program more than some assistant coaches. And while most strength coaches stand on the sideline out of the way, don't be surprised if you see Longo standing next to Brian Kelly during a game, practice or summer camp.
No other coach on the Notre Dame staff will have as much impact as Paul Longo. His ability to restructure the human body into a top-notch football player will show quickly once he arrives on campus, as players' bodies will take different shape and they'll attain levels they've never dreamed of reaching.
While most strength and conditioning coaches take part in the warm-up session of practice and disappear, Longo stays on the field watching the action, making sure players who are not capable of taking part in that day's practice are not being left out of conditioning.
A 1981 graduate of Wayne State, Longo was a record-setting wide receiver, one good enough to be signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After seeing the NFL was not in his future, Longo started his life's work as a strength and conditioning coach at Wisconsin for two seasons before moving on to Iowa, where he worked for Hayden Fry from 1988-1998. After Fry retired, Longo was reassigned and stayed another three years at the Big Ten program before getting pulled by Brian Kelly to Central Michigan.
Brian Kelly knew if he was to have a program capable of competing he needed one of the best and was sure Longo could take the players his staff recruited and turn them into some of the best "football" players in the country. Longo didn't disappoint and the rest is football history as the duo has continued building programs that compete at a championship level.
Known for his unconventional training methods, Longo is not afraid to use things like giant farm tires, sleds, chains and other devices to get results. But one thing Irish football players will soon learn about is "Longo Beach".
Once Longo arrives at Notre Dame he'll be looking for a spot to set up his 60-80 yards of sand where players will get high reps and low impact while working the total body to help avoid injuries. The beach is a Longo staple and has proven to be one of the best tools used in the Cincinnati program.
While many football fans feel the job of a strength coach is to get players bigger, Longo will not only look to increase size, but shape lean and quick athletes capable of playing in a fast paced offense and defense that plays at full speed.
While players on the Cincinnati team were upset about the loss of Brian Kelly, it's knowing that Paul Longo will soon be leaving that has many more upset about the future. Notre Dame players will soon learn why Cincinnati and Central Michigan players before them were so upset when Longo left for his next stop.
Irish football fans will see the difference over the course of the next few months and be surprised by the results.