STILLWATER — When the sun began to rise over the east side of Boone Pickens Stadium around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Rob Glass had already blown his whistle close to 100 times.
That's 30 minutes of work for Oklahoma State's assistant athletic director for speed, strength and conditioning. And he coached for another 11 hours before the day was done, as players rolled in and out to complete another set of offseason workouts.
“Drive through it!” Glass emphasized while demonstrating an agility drill where the players must backpedal, plant and then sprint five yards.
This is Glass' premier time with the Cowboy football team, when the largest bulk of strength and conditioning work is done each year. This week, OSU will conclude its eight-week summer program before players report to fall camp on Aug. 2.
Of course, virtually all college football players are getting up early this time of year. Spending hours in the weight room. Hoping the work done in June and July will lead to a stronger, better-conditioned team on Saturdays in October and November.
So what makes Glass' offseason program unique?
The truth is, the formula is still almost identical to the one he ran during his 10 seasons working with Steve Spurrier at Florida.
“It still goes back to what we call the meat and potatoes,” Glass said. “It still comes down to putting in hard work, lifting, straining.”
In the weight room, players do a total body workout four days a week. Two days are focused on Olympic lifts — where the speed the bar travels is far more important than the amount of weight on the bar — and the other two days are focused on slower lifts like the squat and bench press.
The main goal is to increase overall team speed, something that Glass and coach Mike Gundy have consistently pointed to as one of the top reasons for OSU's recent rise in college football.
“We spend a lot of time on the platform,” Glass said. “We do a lot of Olympic movement. Some people aren't big fans of that, but we know that those things have helped us develop our explosiveness and our speed at a much faster rate than maybe some other ways to train.”
The summer program also features a wide range of agility/conditioning drills and a “metabolics” session, or football-specific drills. Quarterbacks and receivers will run passing drills. Defensive backs will work on backpedaling. Linemen and linebackers will work on gap control.
“It's as much mental to keep them sharp,” Glass said. “The goal with the creation of this was so when we went to camp, it wasn't like, ‘OK we've got to spend a couple weeks reinstalling, retooling up.'
“They can function right there Day 1, because they've been doing a lot of stuff together.”
But during the season is where training has changed for the Cowboys.
Glass has been an instrumental force behind OSU's lighter practice load. He points to the faster, no-huddle spread systems the OSU offense runs as a reason to change. And the fact that defenses that used to face 70 plays a game now often face 100. What was once standard training is now overtraining because of that increased workload on Saturdays.
Glass and his staff have even used video footage to track the exact number of yards the wide receivers run in practice.
“(Gundy) may say, ‘I don't understand these guys, they're all really dead-legged,'” Glass said. “(And I say), ‘Oh, by the way, they run eight miles every day.' You don't realize, sometimes, the volume of those things.”
Glass ultimately points to the people in his program as the reason it runs successfully. He has a large enough staff so individual coaches — especially Joel Tudman and Gary Calcagno — can build rapport with players, both as a mentor and guy that knows how to push the right “hot buttons” to get results.
After all, the strength coaches are who the players spend the most time with year-round. In-season training. Winter conditioning. Summer workouts.
“You come to one of those workouts in the morning and you don't work, bad things are going to happen,” former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden said last week. “(Glass) puts out that persona that everybody respects him.”
Glass and his staff have been a key part of building a program that recorded the best season in school history a year ago. But he hopes he's building even more with his athletes.
“Guys who aren't even in the professional football world, they're just saying, ‘Everything I learned out here (has helped),'” Glass said. “I don't really look at it as a builder of men, but that's kind of our goal.
“Our mission as a strength staff is just to have them understand … how to operate in society in the correct way so they can be successful.”