Every successful head coach needs a solid staff of coordinators and position coaches to make the job easier.
Bill O’Brien will be one of the first people to admit that, often crediting his assistant coaches throughout the season. One important but often under the radar coach on a college football team is the individual in charge of the strength and conditioning program. This person runs the show during offseason workouts when organized practices are not permitted. When Craig Fitzgerald holds the title, under the radar no longer applies.
Fitzgerald became a folk hero in State College this year. After being hired by O’Brien, he wore shorts while overseeing 5:30 a.m. workouts in the freezing cold, had players pushing vans during Life for Life in July, and did the worm without his shirt at a cold Ross-Ade Stadium before the Nittany Lions faced Purdue in early November. Now, Fitzgerald’s efforts are being recognized on a national level as he is one of three finalists for the Football Scoop website 2012 Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year.
The two other finalists along with Fitzgerald are Kaz Kazadi from Baylor and Bryan Miller from Oregon State. Past winners from 2008-2011 include Don Sommer (TCU), Joey Batson (Clemson), Kevin Yoxall (Auburn), and Shannon Turley (Stanford). These four previous winners will choose this year’s recipient with the announcement coming next Monday, December 10th.
All of the position coaches who win awards from the Football Scoop will be recognized in January at the American Football Coaches Association annual convention.
If Fitzgerald ends up being the winner, perhaps we will be treated to a repeat of the shirtless worm as a celebration.