In case you missed it, I wrote a story about Georgia’s new strength and conditioning program under director Joe Tereshinski, which appeared in the Sunday paper and was uploaded online over the weekend. It made for an interesting challenge since I was unable to talk to Tereshinski for the story. I’d been requesting interviews with him all summer, but he kept respectfully declining through the sports communication office. I actually ran into “Coach T,” who I’ve known for years, at a retail store back in June and we had a nice off-the-record chat about everything. At that time, he said, “just give me until after the Fourth of July and I’ll talk.” But that came and went and we I never did get a chance to pick his brain. In the meantime, I continued to interview players and coaches and other folks about Joe T and what he was doing with the strength program this summer and I got a lot of feedback. So with the off-season program ending this past Wednesday and preseason camp starting this week, I felt I should go ahead and share what I’d gathered. And the fact is, I’d gathered way more than I was able to share. I just wasn’t able to fit it all in. So this morning I’m just going to clean out my notebook on this subject as the Bulldogs turn their attention to the business of getting ready on the football field. Hopefully we’ll still get a chance to hear from Coach T between now and the Boise State kickoff. I’ll let you know if and when that happens. In the meantime, as Paul Harvey might say, and now for “the rest of the story” . . .
Clearly between Coach T and Mark Richt they wanted more Georgia flavor in the weight room. They hired two full-time assistants and both were recent lettermen and NFL veterans: Former running back Thomas Brown (2004-07) and linebacker Tony Gilbert (2000-02). Former linebacker Kendrell Bell (1999-2000) and fullback Verron Haynes (2000-01) also have been helping out this summer as student assistants. Brown, as most Georgia fans will recall, was pound for pound one of the strongest Bulldogs ever. Still is, as I understand it. Gilbert, too. So not only are they able to tell the players what to do, they can show them in many cases.
Everybody I talked to says don’t overlook the decision to bring John Kasay Sr. out of retirement. Kasay, also a letterman (1964-66), has had an almost 50-year association with UGA. And apparently has had and will continue to have a profound effect on these proceedings. While he’s only a part-time assistant, word is he is bringing the same fire and intensity he did as a position coach and strength coach in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. I can’t wait to find out if he’s still wearing the pants and long sleeves jackets in the peak of the summer heat.
Associate director Keith Gray remains on staff, as does assistant Rex Bradberry, who also splits his time as a nutritionist. However, former assistant Clay Walker has moved on. So with the additions of Brown, Gilbert and Kasay and the subtraction of Walker the staff grew by 1 1/2 employees.
While Georgia has made a lot of changes in its strength and conditioning department, it hasn’t necessarily thrown a lot of money at it (unless you count the $38 million addition to the Butts-Mehre Complex, which includes training space and equipment). I didn’t have a chance to survey other SEC programs but it would appear the Bulldogs’ staff came together fairly inexpensively.
Tereshinski signed a one-year contract that expires Dec. 31, 2011, that calls for a $150,000 salary. Nobody else on the current staff makes more than $45,121 and the average salary of the five assistants $36,000 a year. That includes Kasay’s salary as a part-time — or 49 percent — employee/retiree.
Athletic director Greg McGarity has also added two full time nutritionists to the payroll. Jen Ketterly comes to Georgia from North Carolina as the director of sports nutrition and Maria Breen has come over from UGA’s Family and Consumer Sciences College to help out. They started in early July and will monitor players’ diets aswell as educate all student-athletes on eating right
The one constant theme I heard with regard to Tereshinski and the new staff is their “love of Georgia.” Numerous players and coaches in various ways separate of each other used that to describe their coaching style.
It has yet to be proven whether it will translate to more success on the football field, but players are liking the results of their run-oriented regimen this summer.
I haven’t gotten a chance to visit with former strength and conditioning director Dave Van Halanger since his appointment as “director of player welfare” last December but I hope to soon. In any case, it’s not like Georgia didn’t know what it was doing under his direction. Van Halanger, a certified “Master of Strength and Conditioning,” is the one who coined the phrase “finish the drill” at Georgia. He’s a hall of fame strength and conditioning coach who oversaw Florida State’s strength program when it was making 14 consecutive Top 5 finishes. He followed Richt to Athens and brought those infamous “mat drills” with him and it was his battle cry of “Finish the Drill” the Bulldogs used during the SEC championship runs of 2002 and 2005. Sometimes, though, change for change sake can be a good thing. We’ll all see soon enough.
Players report for preseason camp Tuesday evening, testing is on Wednesday and the first practice is Thursday night. So check back regularly all day every day going forward because multiple updates will be coming. It’s football season!