The college football season can run up to 15 games, but there's one staff that's with the players all year long: strength and conditioning.
"They are with us about 90 percent of the time throughout the year," head strength and conditioning coach SaJason Finley said. "Football coaches have them for four months, but the guys are with us for the other eight. It's a lot of development all-around."
There are multiple examples of how the strength and conditioning world has evolved. For one, it is also equally mental as it is physical when the student-athletes are in the weight room or on the grass. Another aspect is simply how people train physically.
"Everyone's seeing that in order to play the game, you have to be able to move," Finley said. "Sport is movement and not just about being the strongest. You won't be efficient on the football field or basketball court if you're strong and can't move."
Finley faces a unique challenge that is also shared amongst every one of his counterparts around the country. As the lead person, he has to oversee every other sport's program as well, and that includes a daily and highly-calculated report from the training staff that details every player's injury, what their limitations are and also how hard they can or cannot be pushed in each of those aspects. As for football, one can see where Southern Miss gets its reputation for toughness.
"The big challenge of football is definitely making sure guys are conditioned and ready to go before camp," Finley said. "The summers in Mississippi are a little hot and different."
Finley is also quick to give credit where credit is due, especially going back to his earlier days at Auburn under football strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell, who "took a green coach under his wings and caught me up to speed."
"I had the passion and the drive, and it got me so ahead with the experience."
Mornings, nights, weekends and weeknights. The grind never stops for the Southern Miss strength and conditioning staff.
Season tickets, flex plans, and group tickets for the 2017 Golden Eagle home season are still available and can be purchased by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Discounts are available for Southern Miss faculty and staff, senior citizens, military personnel, and recent Southern Miss graduates. The Golden Eagles open the 2017 season at home on Saturday, Sept. 2, at 3 p.m. against SEC opponent Kentucky.