For the college football players of my era it can be equally mind-boggling to think about the differences between what we did in the 1950s and what the players are doing today.
When I was a player at the University of Georgia as soon as spring classes ended I headed home and worked. Football training was not even close to the 12 months a year commitment it is these days for college players.
This time of year the guys at Auburn and other schools are enrolled taking classes, and they are also spending hour after hour in weight rooms working on their strength. Some guys are trying to get bigger, others want to be smaller and everybody is training to be quicker and faster.
I don’t ever recall taking summer classes or training on campus in the summer when I was in college. I do remember that I had to go ROTC training camp one summer, but that was just two or three weeks and after that I went back home and worked so I could earn enough money to try to make it through the coming year.
That is what most of us were doing in the summer. There wasn’t any weight program. There wasn’t any offseason conditioning program.
The coaches would send us, by mail, a workout thing you were supposed to do in the summer. I would look at that thing and throw it in the trash can because I was working on the farm, or working in construction, and I stayed in shape and stayed strong. I would do a little running before heading back to campus, but that was the only football specific workout I did in the summers.
Back then there wasn’t much weight training going on any time of year. If you were lucky enough to be born on a farm where you had to work, you were likely going to be a strong football player. If you were raised in a soft environment, you came to college as a soft player. That is just the way it was and the coaches had to take you and transform you into something different once you arrived at school.
What we did as far as training in the offseason was nothing in comparison to what is done today--not even close. I was a freshman in 1957 and can say with certainty that the training for football players today is much more advanced and the average player who arrives in a freshman class in 2012 is far superior to the ones in my freshman class.
The difference is as great as the difference in the technology in cars from the 1950s to what you can go out and purchase on a car lot today. The world has progressed so much in a variety of areas and football, and all athletics, are part of that change.
When we reported for preseason practice and started two-a-days, a big part of what we did involved getting us players in condition. Today, players are expected to be in outstanding shape on the first day of practice so the coaches can focus on developing their football skills. That is one of the reasons why the game is played at such a high level in 2012.
(If you have a question or a subject you would like me to write about in future columns, you can email it to PatDye@autigers.com.)
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of columns that College Football Hall of Fame member Pat Dye is writing for AUTigers.com about the game he played and coached. An All-American player at Georgia and one of the top head coaches in SEC history at Auburn, he also served as a head coach at East Carolina and Wyoming. Dye participates in the Legends Poll, a Top 25 rating of the best teams in college football as determined by a panel of all-star former head coaches. Dye writes three columns for AUTigers.com--The Dye-Log, the Dye-Gest and Pat’s Picks.
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