There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about how much turnover their could be on the Cowboys' coaching staff this off-season, whether it be Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin "retiring", Offensive Coordinator Bill Callahan being dismissed, or even (inaccurate) reports that defensive line coach and presumed Defensive-Coordinator-in-waiting Rod Marinelli had been released to accept the position under his good friend and former boss Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay.
While we now know that Leslie Frazier is Smith's new coordinator and Marinelli will remain in Dallas in some capacity, the futures of Callahan and Kiffin are still largely up in the air. Although those 3 names (along with Jason Garrett's for about 24 hours) have been the most talked about coaches who could be gone from the staff, there is another who deserves mention.
The biggest problem with this team, in my opinion, is something that I have been touching on over and over the last 2-3 months: Strength and Conditioning. When Jason Garrett added Mike Woicik to his staff in 2011, Cowboys Nation rejoiced; bringing in a strength coach who was the owner of 6, yes SIX, Super Bowl rings was surely exactly what was needed to return the team to the glory(hole) days of yester-year. However unfortunate, it simply has not played out that way. The Cowboys have been riddled with injuries, (mostly hamstrings) and unfortunately, 3 years in a row is not bad luck. There is something systematically wrong, whether the players or the strength and conditioning programs in place.
My theory is the program. In 2011 the game changed for S&C coaches, off-season time with players was reduced as well as minicamps, OTA's and Training Camp time. My belief is that Woicik, although a fantastic coach, simply was not able to adapt his program to the new restraints it was under. The game got bigger, stronger, and faster without allowing Woicik the amount of time he was accustomed to having to get his players ready, and thus from day one of training camp, when the Cowboys ran their conditioning test, the injuries piled up.
My Proposal: Hire just dismissed Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Benny Wylie from University of Texas
Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones don't have to look far to find their new S&C guy. Wylie spent 4 seasons from 1999-2002 as an assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for your Dallas Cowboys, before making the move to be the head S&C coach for the Texas Tech football team and eventually their entire athletic department, after 5 years in Lubbock, he moved on to the University of Tennessee for 1 season before spending the last 3 in Austin as head S&C coach for Mack Brown's football program.
I like a lot of things about Wylie from a S&C perspective, but most of all I love these 2 two things, First of all, he comes from the college game, which places even more restrictions on off-season time and especially in-season time than the NFL, requiring Wylie to be extremely efficient and focus his (and his players) efforts on those things that will directly impact the players' ability to perform on the field. Secondly, I like that he trains the whole player. He's not just worried about training a guy to run faster, jump higher, or lift more than he could before, he focuses on improving everything a player needs to be the best player he can be. For an example, check out this clip from the Longhorn Network where he is focused on training Wide Receivers and uses special vision training glasses while playing catch with WR's in order to improve their focus and actually strengthen the muscles and nerves behind the eye.There is also this clip, focusing on other methods he uses to "Build a Better Athlete".
Outside of these training methods, Wylie does other things to motivate his players, like taking part in the workouts with them, and tweeting out videos of his players accomplishing their lifting goals. In a college program, the S&C coach is essentially the Head Coach of the off-season, who is responsible for preparing his entire team for the marathon of the season. This responsibility is exactly why I feel that the Cowboys should look to the College ranks for their next strength coach, and why I think Bennie Wylie is the man for the job.