June 18, 2014

Rob Glass has seen a lot in 20 years at OSU

There is one common denominator that connects the likes of Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, former All-Pro defensive end Jevon Kearse and NBA sharp-shooter Mike Miller.

They all possess great athletic gifts and maximized their potential under the guidance of Rob Glass, assistant athletic director for speed, strength and conditioning at Oklahoma State.

Glass is one of the most recognized and respected names in strength and conditioning. Glass has worked at OSU in some capacity for 20 years, with a 10-year term at the University of Florida splitting his time in Stillwater.

Glass broke into the profession at the right time. In the late 1980s, Cold War tensions were coming to an end, allowing western and eastern training and medicine to meet. Also, the popularity of fitness drove a lot of research. Those few things have generated a lot more education and more understanding of how the human body works. The money involved in college sports doesn't hurt, either.

"The other side of it is college athletics has become so competitive in a year round basis, essentially its become so highly competitive that people are putting a lot of resources into trying to sustain success on the field so there is just a lot more involved," Glass said.

The money and success driven culture of college athletics also gives Glass the freedom to operate as he wants. In addition to the trust of players, Glass and his peers need the trust from those he works for in order to do his job how he sees fit.

"In my world or in my department, you have to have a administration that totally supports you," Glass said. "That's huge. That gives you the resources to get done what you need to get done. The head coaches that are on board with what you are trying to get done, that's huge."

That trust was a big part of why Glass returned to his alma mater after 10 years away from Stillwater. Glass took a job as Coordinator of Strength & Conditioning at Florida in 1995. He would get promoted to Director of Strength & Conditioning for his last six years in Gainesville. The time he spent at UF proved beneficial to his OSU return.

"The 10 years at Florida were for me huge because that's one of the top-5 athletic programs in the country," Glass said. "You get an opportunity to see how, if you will, big league programs work and be able to bring some of that knowledge and expertise that I gained there, bring it back here to my alma mater."

In 2005,OSU coach Mike Gundy gave Glass a call to see if Glass was interested in coming back. Gundy had just been hired to replace Les Miles and knew first-hand Glass' ability to work with athletes. Gundy was the quarterback at OSU when Glass was beginning his career in the field.

It was also the time of a culture change at OSU. Gundy and Holder, both OSU alums, were rebranding the football program, with a little help from T. Boone Pickens. It was the perfect match for Glass. A place where he could work with people who trusted him, basically build the athletic training facility from the ground up and come home to his alma mater.

"That's when kinda the athletic village and (Athletic Director) Coach (Mike) Holder's vision and kind of a renaissance of the athletic programs here," Glass said. "For me, it was to come back and try to take this program to places it never been.

"Part of me agreeing to take the job was the training table, what was getting ready to be put in place. Be able to re-outfit the facility and get things where it's on upper echelon of college athletics as far as an athlete's ability to prove himself."

In 20 years at OSU, Glass has seen a lot. The success of the 80s, the heavy probation of the 90s and the historic 2012 Fiesta Bowl season are all lasting memories. He also has a good story or two. This one involving Sanders.

"On Sunday the coaches would be in breaking down tapes from Saturday," Glass said. "He may have carried the ball 35 times. You'd hear a basketball dribbling down the hallway. It would be him. He had been at the Colvin center playing basketball. Most guys would be laid up in a ice tub for a day or two. He was just very gifted genetically."

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