Hello my friends, and to steal an introductory remark from Guns & Roses, Welcome to the Jungle. A long time has passed since I was given this opportunity in mid December to start writing columns on eGriz and I apologize for the delay. However, I’d like to think the delay was justified, one, because since then I got married, and two, because the purpose of this column is to let you guys in on old Griz stories. As I have stated before, I have knowledge of a great number of funny Griz stories, but something has to jog my memory first. This is why during the football season my Twitter account (@Aschmidtacular for those of you yet to follow) has a flurry of activity. In the dead months, December, January, and February not much is going on, hence my story time is at a minimum. I guess this is just a longwinded way of saying sorry for the delay and I will be posting whenever something reminds me of a funny story.
As an official introduction, I “played” running back for the Griz from 2004-2008. My career was firmly nestled in between Lex Hilliard and Chase Reynolds, hence the quotes around the word “played.” When you are not starting on a team you tend to have a large amount of free time. I spent this free time not so much studying, but more playing pranks on people and generally messing around. Naturally, this led to some great stories which I plan on sharing in due time.
To start, let’s discuss two ground rules. First, I’m not here to embarrass anyone other than myself. I have no intention of airing dirty laundry or burning bridges. As such, I will only post stories that I have permission to disclose or that are in good-natured fun. In the event I don’t have permission I will conceal identities, so breathe easy fellow Griz. Second, the purpose of this column is to entertain and to let you guys on the inside to a degree. There will come times when you do not agree with what I say. That’s fine. We can disagree without being disagreeable. There is no need to dedicate your life to commenting at me on Twitter if you are mad. People look terrible when they get angry in an online argument. There are no winners in this situation. Keep it cordial like I know most of you will. (looking at you, Brint). Oh two more minor rules, if you follow me on Twitter, I hope you like sports, political science, movies, video games, and the WWE in some particular order. If not, better not waste your time. Also, please no letters to the editor about my spelling and grammar. I’m not a pro journalist, I’m a wash up with funny stories. This column will be somewhat interactive as you can see from the hyperlinks in bold. Some will lead to videos and pictures so make sure you have speakers and your boss is not looking over your shoulder.
Finally, let’s get to the purpose of this first column and the news I have been teasing on twitter for weeks. That news will come in a separate post, hopefully later this week, once the ink on the contracts is dry. The news will be pretty cool for fans of the Griz, young and old, and includes some Griz legends. Most of that post is already written, but I have to wait to announce the news until everything is in order. With that said, let’s take this column out for a test drive.
I have been seeing tweets as to the Griz “winter development,” which reminds me, this time of year there are two things on every player’s mind: 1) winter conditioning, and 2) where am I going for spring break? Spring break destinations are always fun stories because it is between spring ball and you have absolutely no money to really do what you want. This leads to pretty funny stories (we’ll get there in a separate post but it includes Las Vegas). But for those of you not in the know, winter conditioning is absolute hell. I have no idea what the current Griz program entails, but let me break down my past “winter condo” for you.
Some asshole way back when decided to run players through military type drills and endurance tests at 6 am in the dead of winter and named it winter conditioning or “mat drills.” I have no idea who invented this, but my father told me he did it at the University of Wyoming in the early 1970s, so it has been around for a while. The activity itself is not all too long, about an hour, and it is only two days a week (usually Tuesday and Thursday), but those two hours a week are terrible. Here are the rules: If you put your hands on your knees, you do the drill over, if you jog and not go 100%, you do the drill over, if you show any sign of weakness, you do the drill over. The idea is kinda like this clip. The hour is designed to make you vomit, shit yourself, or quit, sometimes all three. Oh, and you have to yell the majority of the time.
With that out of the way here is how the days goes. First, you can’t sleep the night before. You wake up every hour on the hour because if you are late you go up to the M at 6 am every day the next week. We always started at 6:30 am, but some schools go even earlier. You get there early and just wait for the horn to go off, which is the sound of doom. Basically you feel like this picture looks. We had three sections, mats, endurance, and agility, with the team broken into three groups by position. Each group would take one section and then rotate. The agility section consisted of doing combine related shuttles, running over bags, and drills like that. (Funny side story, they always put Tom Hauck, the oldest and slowest moving coach on the bags. So in order to get an extra break, Thomas Brooks-Fletcher, Chase Reynolds, and I would purposely kick the bags everywhere so that Coach Tom had to fix them, giving everyone in our group more time to rest. Sorry coach, that was totally intentional). The endurance drills consisted mainly of running suicides on the basketball court. Three guys go at a time, with another group ready to go as soon as the group in front finishes. There was usually a “brothers in arms” agreement to run the same speed so one guy would not get yelled at. However, when Bobby got on that drill he would just make everyone run at the same time. No waiting for the next group, over and over.
Last are the mats and I feel like it deserves its own paragraph (every school does them different, but more examples are here, here, and here). The coaches would make the entire group yell when they entered the room where the mat was. If you did not yell loud enough, you had to go back to do it again. Three veteran guys would be the leaders and the first group. You want two good teammates here because if one messes up, the whole group goes back to the front of the line to do it again. The first thing the coach would say is “HIT IT!” to which the group dives onto the mat, then immediately gets up and does high knees while yelling at the top of their lungs, until the coach says “HIT IT!” again. Basically you do up downs combined with high knees every time he says “hit it” until the coach feels you have had enough and says “get out” and the next group dives out to start their drill. You sprint to the other side of the mat, chop your feet, and wait for the coach to say “get out,” then you do one more up down and sprint off the mat. If you “dog it,” mess up, fail to sprint off the mat, or if the coach just doesn’t like you, the group goes back and does it again. You then have to repeat this one more time. Next come the barrel rolls. Same concept but this time you chop your feet and wait for the coach to point his thumbs one way, to which you do a barrel roll that way, get back up, and chop your feet again. You do this multiple times, then when done you sprint off the mat the same way as before. The coach will mess with you here by pointing his thumbs one way and moving his head the other. Again, if you mess up you go back. You have to do this two times as well. Finally you have the bear crawls where you literally chase around a coach while bear crawling as fast as you can. Whenever he says, “get down” you do an up down and back to the bear crawl position. Whenever he says back up you back up in the bear crawl position. You do this until the coach is satisfied and you do it two times as well.
Without fail I threw up on the first and second days of winter condo each year. There is no training that will get you in shape for it; you just have to accept the fact that you will throw up due to exhaustion. I have seen a lot of crazy stuff during winter condo, players quitting on the spot, vomit, blood, and everything in between. For all of your hard work you usually get called soft and then have to go to class. On a lighter note, winter conditioning is how I found the legendary unmarked men’s restroom of the Adams Center. I will not reveal its exact location or the details surrounding why I found it (I had to puke), but rest assured there is an unmarked men’s restroom in the Adams Center that is an oasis.
So that is winter conditioning and the reason I did not schedule any classes on Tuesday or Thursday in the spring for three straight years. Players will do this from now until spring ball starts. They also will have to go to class and do their daily lifts as well. So if you see a player on the street, give them a hug, this is the worst time of the year until spring break, which is another post.