Freaks Week: Here’s the strongest pound-for-pound coach in America
The most underrated coach in college football has found a unique way to inspire his team — and to get his program some publicity.
In three seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, Mark Hudspeth has gone 27-12 and is 3-0 in bowl games. Including his seven-year run at D2 North Alabama, Hudspeth has a 99-33 mark as a head coach.
That sparkling record notwithstanding, I suspect even diehard college football fans probably couldn’t pick Hudspeth out if you showed them five random headshots.
But they probably have seen the video of "Coach Hud" bench pressing 375 pounds earlier in the spring or the clip of him last summer repping 225 a whopping 25 times.
If you haven’t, we’ll wait:
Sharing Hudspeth’s story seemed like an ideal way to wrap up Freaks Week as our latest guest on ‘The Audible.’ As the 45-year-old former QB/DB at Delta State explained, he’s not the only workout fanatic in the family.
His wife Tyla runs marathons and even won the Nashville Music City Muscle Fitness Pageant last year. Hudspeth wouldn’t speculate on whether he could bench more than any active FBS head coach. Texas’ Charlie Strong might give him a run. BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall is another incredibly in-shape head man. So is UNC’s Larry Fedora, as evidenced by a picture his daughter tweeted out earlier this month.
But it’s the 208-pound Hudspeth who is throwing around weight some college O-lineman can’t handle. Hudspeth said his max bench press now is 380.
"If I can hit 400 (on the bench) I might just shut it down," he said. "My goal to hit it before the season but that’s gonna be awfully hard."
Beyond just benching almost double his body weight, Hudspeth said he’s doing lateral 50-pound dumbbell raises for 10 reps. The coach isn’t just pumping heavy iron as a way to blow off some stress; he believes it’s also a way to motivate his players.
"My favorite quote of all time is ‘the speed of the leader is the speed of the pack,’ and that’s why I try to bring a lot of energy and a lot of juice, chasing guys around," he said. "Same thing in the weight room. I want them to think I’m all in with them. Not just some big, overweight coach that’s got a dip in that’s telling his guys to ‘play hard and to work out hard.’ If they see the energy and passion that you have hopefully that’ll rub off on them."
In addition to our discussion about Hudspeth’s Freak credentials, we also dug into, among other things, some of the new challenges facing programs outside of the Big Five conferences.
On the sport’s landscape: "The thing that’s gonna change the dynamics is if they extend the scholarships to 95. If you do that, it’s gonna change things. Wanting to pay players more. That’s gonna change things. That’s gonna take college football out of what fans are used to seeing. There’s a lot of tradition in college football where you’ve got teams every once in a while pop up and pull an upset. I think we’re fixin’ to hurt the game with what’s taken place across college football right now, and I’m really sad about it.
". . . I think we’re missing the boat about what amateur sports is. We’ve already got an elite league, and it’s called the NFL. To me a lot of these conferences and commissioners that want an elite league, they need to bump up to the National Football League and bite off the Dallas Cowboys if they want to do that."
Here’s the full conversation with Hudspeth. For links to all of our Freaks Week content, see below the podcast.
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Bruce Feldman is a senior college football reporter and columnist for FOXSports.com and FOX Sports 1. Follow him on Twitter @BruceFeldmanCFB.