ATHENS — Three weeks after hiring two major additions to his staff, Georgia strength and conditioning director Joe Tereshinski sat down before reporters on Tuesday to explain his motives and detail his plans.
Tereshinski, 58, took over the Bulldogs’ strength program in January of 2011 after serving as an assistant strength coach and video coordinator for the previous 29 years. After losing three of his assistants since the end of the 2011 season — a fourth will be departing for another job soon — Tereshinski brought in John Thomas from Penn State as senior associate director and Sherman Armstrong from Tampa as an assistant and speed specialist.
“The University of Georgia was very fortunate to get John Thomas to come down from Penn State, where he was the head strength coach for the last 20 years,” Tereshinski said. “I feel like I pulled off the biggest coup ever to bring this man here to work with me.”
Of Armstrong he said, “I kind of went outside of the box, so to speak, as strength coaches go, to recruit a man who understands, speed, quickness, agility and can teach it. Had his own company and has many clients who are now playing in the NFL. . . . He has devoted his life to speed and Georgia is better off to bring in a man who can teach that to our players and to me.”
Four of Tereshinki’s five assistants have either already left or are on their way out to pursue other opportunities. Tereshinski scoffed at the notion that it’s because of discord or dissatisfaction. Rex Bradberry, an assistant since 2002, told The AJC on Monday he’s leaving to train U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C., later this spring. Thomas Brown took a job as an assistant football coach at UTC, Keith Gray accepted a position with the Philadelphia Eagles and John Kasay returned to retirement after the bowl game. Only Tony Gilbert, a former UGA linebacker (2000-02) who joined the staff before this past season, will be sticking around for a second season.
Tereshinski scoffed at the notion there is any discord or dissatisfaction within the program.
“It just kind of unfolded that way,” he said. “Keith got a great opportunity to go to the Philadelphia Eagles and doubled his salary. Rex has got a great situation where he’s going to go train our Special Forces and he’s very excited about that and he’s going to hit a windfall financially also. So it was something they had to do and wanted to do to grow their careers.”
When Bradberry leaves, Tereshinski will have one more full-time position available under new NCAA legislation that limits strength staffs to five full-time employees. He said he hasn’t decided what direction he’ll go in with that hire.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “Because I have John and Sherman and Tony, that may be one position where we just go with a G.A. (graduate assistant). In our profession you have to have a door open to bring in young people and allow them to learn under the best and allow them to keep our profession growing. I’ll get with Mr. McGarity and see how he feels about it and with John and Sherman and Tony. When Rex finally does make that move we’ll handle it then.”
Meanwhile, Tereshinski believes he has assembled a staff that puts Georgia on the cutting edge in strength and conditioning.
I feel like they’re going in the direction I’d like them to go, very much so,” Tereshinski said. “I think Coach Richt does, I think our coaching staff does. We’re just going to continue chipping away at developing these kids. Our emphasis still is to win the fourth quarter. If you’re the strongest, most powerful team in the fourth quarter, your chances of winning the game are pretty good.”
Here’s some comments from Tereshinki’s new charges . . .
JOHN THOMAS, strength and conditioning director at Penn State for 20 years:
On his ‘high-intensity training philosophy . . .
“It was really a combination of my core beliefs and what Coach Paterno wanted and what the staff wanted, to be honest. My version of high-intensity is we’re going to use whatever apparatus — whether it’s a dumbbell, kettle-bell, barbell, heavy object, machine – whatever it is, we’re going to use it in a safe, very-intense fashion. And we’re going to try to get the most out of whatever exercise we’re doing at any given point in time. And that’s really it, to put it in its simplest terms.”
On having to work under someone after being the top guy for two decades. . . .
“For the 20 years I was at Penn State, I never felt I had an ego. I hope I don’t have an ego, so coming down here and being part of this group has not been a difficult transition. I’m actually looking forward to it and have been pretty excited about it to this point.”
On being out of the chaos that was Penn State this past year . . .
“It’s a breath of fresh air to be at a place, to be honest with you, whereI found out the head coach I worked for for 20 years and the head coach that I’m working for now have a lot of the same qualities and characteristics. You’ve got great men who care about the programs they work for and they care about the kids they’re coaching and teaching and care about the universities that they’re working for. There’s a lot of characteristics with Coach Paterno and Coach Richt that are very, very similar. So that was very refreshing for me.”
On what Paterno meant to his career. . . .
“It was an honor to work for him. As far as what he had done for my family and me professionally, there’s too much to talk about. We’d be here way too long. He’s had a definite impact on me and my coaching philosophy, how I handle the athletes, how I handle people, how I deal with media. He’s had a big impact on all that.”
SHERMAN ARMSTRONG, former founder and chief performance specialist of VAST (velocity, agility, speed, technique). Armstrong was a four-time All-American and 2000 Big Ten Athlete of Year at Illinois and an Olympic Trials finalist in the 400-meter hurdles.
His observations of Georgia’s overall speed and athleticism . . .
“There are some phenomenally gifted athletes and they really do want to get better. They have already seen much improvement in strength. Now they want to know what else can I do to get better. I’ve definitely been impressed. There’s a lot to work with but there’s a lot of work to be done.”
On how he ended up at UGA after training professional athletes in Tampa . . .
“I really hadn’t sought it out. I left a business that was very successful But when it came in front of me, I saw it as a huge opportunity to be a part of a major athletics program like Georgia.”
On whether he sees his training as ‘outside the box’ . . .
“For me being a speed person, I don’t think it’s outside the box. But as a university football program it could be viewed as a little outside the box because the general parameters of strength and conditioning has always been the weight room and warming the guys up and getting them ready and that’s pretty much it. Of course conditioning is another element to it. But it’s outside the box from the standpoint that there is a specific day and a specific time designated to what I do so it could be view that way.”