While nothing has been made official yet, Brian Kelly is likely bringing his strength and conditioning coach Paul Longo with him to South Bend. Longo has been with Kelly since his Central Michigan days, and before that Longo worked for over a decade with legendary Iowa coach Hayden Fry as his strength and conditioning coach. According to Longo’s bio on Cincinnati’s official website, the Bearcats are 21-0 when entering the fourth quarter with a lead, a stat that says a lot about the fitness levels of Longo’s players.
Longo will replace another former Wayne State football player, Ruben Mendoza, as the Director of Strength and Conditioning at Notre Dame. During Mendoza’s tenure at Notre Dame, the strength and conditioning facilities more than doubled in size, with the Haggar Fitness Center becoming one of the premiere training facilities in the country.
I’m not one to judge the work Mendoza and his staff did with Notre Dame’s players, but it’s only natural for fans and players to get excited when a new strength coach comes in to train players that likely grew accustomed to the routines and workouts of a staff. When the new strength coach has things called “Longo Beach” and the “Freakazoid Club,” it’s even easier to get excited.
In April of 2008, Longo wrote about his training philosophies for Training & Conditioning Magazine. He spoke of his role as the “Third Coordinator” of the football team, explaining that his job isn’t simply a support position but one similar to the offensive and defensive coordinator under Brian Kelly. Longo was a two-time MVP and four-year starter at wide receiver at Wayne State, and fashions his workouts around being “football fast,” and uses Olympic lifts and platform work, along with “strongman” exercises to build his players. Expect to see a lot of tire flipping, sand bags, and log lifts with Longo in charge.
Longo also talks about building a “Coat of Armor” for his football players, a part of the in-season training phase that is designed to address weaknesses and strength deficiencies as the season presses on. Last season’s staggering weight loss, where the average defensive player lost 13 pounds during the season, will obviously be an area of concern for Longo, and this year’s Irish squad was plagued by injury problems, something Longo takes pride in reducing.
Brian Kelly has talked about “Camp Kelly,” and the 4 a.m. wake-up calls that will transform this team into tougher individuals.
“I can tell you this, it has absolutely no football applicability relative to skill development,” Kelly said. “So you go into it knowing you’re not going to leave here a better receiver, but you’re going to leave here a more committed wide receiver.”
With Longo the man in charge, the Irish will likely be in for a game-changing offseason.