It’s been gone for three years, and green grass is all that’s left in its place. And even though one of Mike Leach’s most successful players, Kliff Kingsbury, returned to be a Texas Tech head coach, Kingsbury has no plans to bring back one of Leach’s favorite training tools.
“We won’t have a sand pit,” Kingsbury said. “I don’t know what we’ll have, but we won’t bring that back. That was a lot of trouble.”
Leach had the sand pit installed at the north end of the Tech practice field in 2005, midway through his Tech coaching tenure. Its purpose was threefold: to strengthen joints and leg muscles, to build mental toughness and to mete out tough love to players who had run afoul of one rule or another.
Texas Tech’s fifth-year seniors are the only players left who had firsthand experience with the sand pit.
“I liked it actually,” outside linebacker Terrance Bullitt said. “If he doesn’t bring it back, oh well. But it’s a good workout. It’s like running on the beach. It was the beach in Lubbock.”
Bullitt and defensive tackle Kerry Hyder were freshmen during the last year of the sand pit.
“We got a lot of work in it,” Hyder said. “I definitely don’t miss it. Bennie Wylie was the strength coach back then, and we did a lot of bungee cords and running in the sand pit. Coach (Chad) Dennis is doing a good job right now, so I don’t think it’ll be coming back anytime soon.”
Although Red Raiders did plenty of pre-planned physical exercises that involved the sand pit, especially in the offseason, it served more than one purpose. A player that missed class, for example, might be sent to do body rolls in the sand pit. No fun, especially on a day with extreme weather conditions.
Kingsbury said he saw the merits of the sand pit; it’s just not for him.
“I just have different philosophies on that, and we handle that in a different way,” he said, “but it definitely worked. You watch those guys out there in that sand pit, (and) they did not want to be in it again.”
Wylie left Tech for Tennessee within a few months of Tommy Tuberville’s being hired in 2010. Tuberville brought in Joe Walker, a strength and conditioning coach with whom he had worked at Auburn.
Walker followed Tuberville to Cincinnati. Kingsbury hired Dennis, with whom he had worked at Houston and Texas A&M, as the Red Raiders’ strength and conditioning coach.
“We’re big on functional strength — creating football players and not body builders,” Kingsbury said. “That’s something I’ve been huge on since I got into coaching is we want to develop speed and we want to develop guys that can play on the field.
“We’re not worried about breaking records in the weight room. We want to develop better football players in there.”
Hyder said Dennis’ workouts are a little different than Walker’s.
“Coach Walker was really an explosion guy,” Hyder said. “Coach Dennis is more speed work — working on speed and football quickness, stuff like that that’s going to help us on the field.
“Coach Walker did a great job for us; don’t get me wrong. But it was more explosive (drills), pushing and stuff like that. We’re working on flexibility and speed right now.”
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