Clay Henry is the publisher and executive editor of Hawgs Illustrated. He is a voter for the Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
State of the Hogs: New strength program has ties to Arkansas' glory days
Arkansas strength and conditioning coach Trumain Carroll speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018, in Fayetteville. Carroll is one of several former SMU staff members who have followed Razorbacks coach Chad Morris to Arkansas.
FAYETTEVILLE — There's a lot of talk about coaching trees. Discussion last August of the majestic and broad reach of the late Frank Broyles included a massive tree.
It was documented the weekend of his memorial service when coaches came from far and wide to celebrate Broyles' legacy in college football.
Some forget that his impact wasn't just coaching football. The Broyles reach stretched into athletic administration with Terry Don Phillips, the man who hired new Arkansas coach Chad Morris as an offensive coordinator at Clemson seven years ago. Phillips played for Broyles and later served as his top aide in the athletic department.
Looking even deeper, Broyles embraced strength and conditioning before most with the hiring of one of the pioneers in that area, the late John Stucky.
So it was with great interest that I heard Morris, indirectly, point me in Stucky's direction with the introduction of Trumain Carroll, Arkansas' new UA strength and conditioning coach who spent the past three seasons with Morris at SMU. The Carroll pedigree starts with one of the giants in that area, Oklahoma State's Rob Glass. Morris mentioned Glass in the official release and again in interviews this week.
And, yes, Glass got his start under Stucky, a Hall of Famer with two stints at Arkansas. Glass thanks former OSU head football coach Pat Jones for sending him to Stucky's weight room as a football grad assistant in Stillwater, Okla., in 1985.
“I know John's tree of influence is massive,” Glass said in a phone interview this week. “I know Trumain has heard me talk of the foundation that you see everywhere in strength and conditioning. So much started with John.”
Stucky is a Kansas State product. After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, Stucky returned to his alma mater for another degree and a start in what you still see a lot in the high school ranks, an on-the-field coach who leads the strength program.
That's also what Stucky did in 1974 at Wichita State when he roomed with another legend, future Tennessee football coach Philip Fulmer. Stucky would eventually team up with Fulmer to help the Vols to a national title in 1998.
By then, Glass was Florida's strength coach, eventually helping the Gators to a national crown. He returned to Oklahoma State in 2005. Glass has 23 years total at OSU - with notable pupils including Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders and Garth Brooks - including his start in coaching as an on-the-field graduate assistant with Jones, a UA grad and former assistant coach.
“Pat would send the five grad assistants to John when the season was over and we'd work in the weight room,” Glass said. “I had parts of three seasons with John before I got into strength and conditioning.”
I first got to know Glass during those years as a football writer at the Tulsa World. It was a treat to see Stucky in the weight room and around the offices at OSU. I was also covering Arkansas football at the time and Stucky would want to catch up on the Razorbacks, especially Broyles.
Broyles brought Stucky to Arkansas in 1977 to develop a strength program that had been Wilson Matthews' baby starting in 1957, focused on mainly running, wrestling or rope climbing in Barnhill Field House. Broyles called that his “fourth quarter” class in the spring. Stucky was labeled a “volunteer” coach on the Holtz staff, helping defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin with the linebackers, but it was a Broyles hire.
Until then, the strength program was really non-existent at Arkansas. There were a few weights in the old “Halfway” house near the stadium, but no formal weight training. Mainly, the offseason consisted of conditioning.
Stucky developed a weight program at Arkansas, then returned after a period at Oklahoma State to install a fully developed system for Ken Hatfield in 1988. The Hogs promptly won SWC titles two straight seasons.
Stucky reunited with Fulmer in 1994 and worked as the Vols' strength coach until health issues forced his retirement in 2001.
“Coach Fulmer was great to John when his health began to decline,” Glass said. “I know they were very close.”
Fulmer brought a huge Tennessee contingent to Stucky's memorial service in Springdale in 2007.
Carroll, still close to Glass, played at OSU and worked under Glass there in two stints, the last in 2013-14. Carroll has been at SMU the last three years in charge of the Morris strength and conditioning program.
It was only a few weeks ago that Carroll called his mentor to tell him he likely was going to stay at SMU and turn down a chance to join Morris at Arkansas, along with his entire strength and conditioning class.
“I think the world of Trumain,” Glass said. “Of course we had him as a player (2001-05) and he kinda worked in the weight room during that time.
“He's loyal to everything he touches, and you saw that a few weeks back when he called me. He didn't want to leave SMU.”
Glass talked him out of staying at SMU.
“Trumain is very unique,” Glass said. “He has loyalty to Coach Morris, but he was having a hard time leaving the players. He said, 'I told them I won't go.' I just said, 'Tru, you have to go.' I just knew it was a great opportunity.
“I know he's going to do a great job at Arkansas. He's charismatic, effervescent and he'll push his players. He's tough and he has a great crew.”
Glass was pleased when he heard Carroll had asked one of his staffers to become yoga certified at SMU, a key component of the recovery mode that's a cornerstone in both their systems.
“We had a yoga instructor come in here,” Glass said of the OSU program. “But it's so much better what Trumain did. I congratulated him. Our instructor is sometimes tied up and we can't get her when we need her. Trumain took care of that. He went one step further with a staffer certified.”
Actually, Carroll said the reasons for getting a coach certified was because SMU didn't have it in budget to hire someone for part-time help, like Glass does at OSU.
“That's one of our secrets,” Carroll said of the yoga certification. “I can't give you all our secrets.”
There are no secrets to most of what Carroll got at OSU from Glass. A lot of it's from Stucky and it's in programs across the nation.
“I think most strength programs are built around those basic Olympic lifts that John researched and incorporated into his system,” Glass said. “John was such a big believer in complete studies of those foundation moves.”
There are great Stucky stories. Glass said he was loved by players.
“John was a big man, but a gentle giant,” Glass said. “So quiet, but he'd get right next to his players, bend over when they were lifting to talk in their ears. He wore glasses. I can still see him, he'd lean over and those glasses would slide down his nose two inches, but he wouldn't move them.
“Some of those early days as a GA, I remember him telling guys doing curls, 'I want to see two more inches on those biceps before you can leave.' They'd groan, then do it.”
Hatfield tells stories about Barry Foster's running style as his flex bone fullback. Stucky put him in a weight harness that developed upper leg strength. It was the key to running through tackles in the fourth quarter. Foster detested those workouts, but believed in Stucky.
“I know about that,” Glass said. “John had a way of getting players to do those kind of things because they loved him.
“The influence John's still got throughout football is amazing. Al Miller with the Broncos was mentored by John. There are so many all over the country. John designed programs with the core lifts to create explosiveness that are still being used. You'd have to say that's part of John's legacy, with a big tree. There are guys all over the SEC that were under John.”
There's one more with at least ties back to Stucky. Glass beams about the very thought. He loved hearing about Carroll's initial media interview at Arkansas and the mention of family.
“That's what Trumain is all about,” Glass said. “It's family. Jarne, his wife, is an unbelievable lady. I tell Trumain that she's the best athlete in the family. She was a great volleyball player in college (at South Carolina State), the player of the year in that conference.
“My wife likes to tell a great story about Trumain that meant a lot to all of our staff wives. We were playing at Oklahoma, unloading the bus at the stadium. Their fans like to get after us. Our wives were trying to get through (a mass of OU fans) and Trumain took over. He was like a big sheep dog and took care of them.”
There was no word if Carroll got loud. He said he's not loud in the weight room, but Morris, sitting nearby, seemed to disagree. Carroll then amended his statement, noting he's as loud as needed.
“I'm who I need to be, who Coach Morris needs me to be,” Carroll said.
What Morris wants and needs is for Carroll to add speed, quickness and flexibility to an Arkansas team that was pushed in the direction of bulk and strength with an eye toward the Bret Bielema model of football. Morris wants players capable of up-tempo football. Weight will be dropped, speed added.
“We will add muscle, but it's going to be lean muscle,” Carroll said. “It's going to allow us to be quicker.”
Morris wants an explosive nature. Before introducing Carroll, he said he wanted a team equipped with players capable of running a hole into the wind. Explosiveness and quickness was always part of the Broyles model in the glory days of Arkansas football, something Stucky worked to produce in his weight training.
If those glory days return under Morris because of Carroll, it won't be a complete stretch to say the first real strength coach in the Arkansas program had a hand in it.
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