June 7, 2012
By JACK BOGACZYK
HUNTINGTON – Joe Miday has been Marshall’s head strength and conditioning coach for only four months, but his history with the Thundering Herd includes a football championship game.
Miday, then an Ohio middle schooler, attended his first college football game at Edwards Stadium. It was the 1992 NCAA Division I-AA title game against Youngstown State … and he was there with his father because Miday’s sister was a YSU student.
It’s a nice story – and it follows – but that was then, and Herd Coach Doc Holliday is more interested in what Miday is doing with the Herd summer program in the Dunfee Weight Room now.
Miday is the fourth head strength coach in Holliday’s 2 1/2 years heading the program. He’s followed Frank Piraino, Scott Bennett and James Townsend. The Herd head ‘ball coach seems to think they’ve got it going in the right direction.
“You win football games, No. 1, right now in the weight room,” Holliday said Thursday as he headed toward the weight room for his own midday workout before going to hometown Hurricane for a Big Green Coaches Tour gathering at Sleepy Hollow Country Club. “Joe has done a tremendous job, along with Scott Wilks (hired to return in March, after a previous stint at his alma mater).
“I feel better about our weight room than I’ve felt since I’ve been here. It’s all about toughness, all about discipline, and like I say, you win football games by getting things accomplished in there right now.”
Miday, a Kent State graduate who has a master’s degree from Marshall, is joined by two former Herd linebackers in the weight room – Wilks (2002-05) and graduate assistant George Carpenter (2008-11). You can tell who’s in charge.
For lunch, Miday eats a grilled chicken sandwich. Wilks goes for peanut butter and honey. Carpenter favors peanut butter and jelly.
They may not all have the same menu, but they’re on the same page, and Miday likes to boast that the three-man strength staff has more combined years (20) at Marshall than Holliday’s nine football position coaches – “and if we would count Scott’s dad and grandfather, who both played here, we’d be up around 30 years,” Miday crowed.
Miday is beginning his sixth year with the program, which he joined in a newly created GA job under Mike Cochran – former Coach Mark Snyder’s strength chief -- in 2007, when Miday left UAB following his father’s death “to get closer to Canton, Ohio, and make it a short drive to see my Mom,” he said.
In Cochran, Piraino and Bennett, he’s worked with weight-room bosses who have a combined eight national championships. He’s tried to take a good amount from each, and build on that … just what he asks the Herd players to do every time they step into the weight room.
“I don’t know that I’ve changed anything; it’s probably more that I combined what those guys did,” said Miday,34 and a former high school baseball coach and teacher in Akron before he got into the heavier lifting. “I haven’t taken just one approach, but I’ve combined from those guys and sort of made it my own thing.”
Miday said his “greatest influence, the guy whose philosophy is the largest percentage here now” is from Piraino, who came from Florida when Holliday was hired and is now the strength coach at Temple.
“The discipline stuff is all from Frank,” Miday said. “T-shirts tucked in … if you yawn, there’s going to be a penalty. When you’re on the field, you’ve got to have good body language. It’s the same thing in the weight room. No crossed arms, no sitting down.
“Act like a team in the weight room. That’s the way you win football games.”
Miday’s main introduction is another level of work and discipline for the Herd.
“The discipline is sort of the same as it was, but we’ve added,” Miday said. “We started with 10 up-downs, now it’s 15 up-downs. If you don’t make a time when you run, there’s more of a penalty than there was two years ago. That’s how it is.
“The program has been pretty similar since Coach Holliday has been here, but you’ve got to add it every year, because bodies adjust to it. This year, we do sand (pit workouts) on Friday. A lot of young guys have never seen before.
“They enjoy it … well, I don’t know if they enjoy it, but it’s something that’s different. You’ve got to keep it interesting. Not one guy in our program has done the warmup we’re doing today. Change the routine, they work better that way.”
Holliday likes the Marshall connection of Miday, Wilks and Carpenter, but he appreciates something else more.
“They’ve been here so they understand what I want and what I expect,” Marshall’s third-year coach said. “It starts with discipline, toughness, with doing things the right way. I’ve watched our kids make tremendous strides as far as strength is concerned.
“When I got here, we weren’t a very strong football team. The team is not near as strong enough as we need at this point, but we’re working hard and taking strides and making gains there. Joe is doing the right stuff.”
When Miday arrived at Marshall five years ago, it wasn’t his first trip to Herdland.
“To go from a GA to head strength coach in five years is a pretty fast track, I guess,” Miday said. “I’ve been fortunate. I got to the right place it seems. I didn’t consider it getting passed by (when others from the outside were hired with Miday already on the MU staff).
“It’s a special place for me. My sister went to Youngstown State and in 1992 when I was a little kid, in middle school I guess, my Dad brought me to my first college football game here at Marshall. I had never been here, never been to a big game, a Cleveland Browns game, never an Ohio State game, just high school games, so this was big, the first nationally televised game I’d been at myself, the national championship.
“We sat in Section 124 (on the stadium west side), about halfway up. I still remember Ronald McDonald over there waving by a crane. It’s the first time I heard ‘We Are …’ What’s really interesting is my brother-in-law was the (Penguins’) starting quarterback for that game, Nick Cochran (Mike Cochran’s brother), but my sister hadn’t even met him yet.
“He threw the last pick to (Marshall’s) Troy Brown (in the Herd’s title win), and my brother-in-law and I don’t talk about it at all.”
Miday shook his head and how his life has come full circle, going on 20 years from Section 124 to the Dunfee Weight Room.
“I never thought I’d be the strength coach at Marshall, but it’s kind of funny that the first game I ever saw was here, and now I am here,” he said. “Sometimes when we go out to practice I look up in the stands to where we sat when I was a kid and I think about that day and my Dad (Daniel Miday). I’ve had opportunities to leave here, but in the back of my head, that’s always there, and it’s kind of a special place.”