Vic Viloria is not tough to spot on the Seminoles' sideline. With a shaved head and a dark pair of sunglasses, Viloria is amongst the most animated men on the field, jumping up and down, waving towels, greeting players with jumping chest-bumps as they come to the sideline, all while yelling the whole game.
Viloria is FSU's strength and conditioning coach, the man tasked with developing and maintaining the bodies of an entire team of aspiring athletes. Without ever geting much mention he is one of the most important men on the entire staff.
And he's got a great mind for the job. Forget any conclusions you may draw from his boisterous, rah-rah sideline/practice persona, Viloria attacks training with a near-academic passion.
"Having a receiver squat 5,000 times at 5,000 pounds over and over probably wasn't the best thing for him. But we did it anyway because 'that was football,'" Viloria said somewhat sarcastically. "But the research has been done, the data is there. Coach Fisher has allowed us to use the information and allowed us to do more research in training our players."
Viloria is very quick to credit Fisher with creating the kind of environment that has allowed him and his staff more flexibility in training players. It all starts with getting away from some of the more conventional ideas associated with weightlifting.
"The big infatuation with the number on the bar, on the weights," said Violoria. "That has lead to a lot injuries in high school and college and the NFL, because our athletes today want to bench press 500 pounds, want to squat 500 pounds, or they want to clean a ton amount of weight."
But it all comes down to technique, doing it right, and doing it the smart way. Viloria is insistent that his guys establish the correct technique. The 33 year-old SMU grad and his staff preach that despite the fact it may not show ill-effects now, bad technique is cumulative and down the road years of doing an exercise the wrong way can lead to serious and oftentime chronic injuries.
"You know if I see a guy clean a whole bunch of weight but it's not done properly, it's not a clean," Viloria added. "I think just teaching athletes today how to squat correctly, how to show up on time, that's the hard part.
"The easy part is the athletic part."
Much like Fisher talks about on the field with creating the correct habits and techniques so that it becomes second-nature to do things right, that philosophy rings true with Viloria in the weight room. Viloria credits Fisher for the flexibility that has allowed him to tailor his approach to different players and achieve optimal results.
"Unfortunately some strength coaches are hired and fired based on numbers, and the change in numbers," Viloria explained. "So if the only thing that kept my job was if I get a guy's bench press up 100 pounds I'm not necessarily going to nitpick on his technique. Because of my relationship with coach Fisher it's not like that. I can give him information on the specifics and I'm not held accountable for just the numbers, because you know a 20 pound increase in his clean is not going to get him on the field. I think sometimes coaches sacrafice technique for additional weight and we will never do that."
Viloria isn't one to take credit for himself. Even asking him something as simple as how he changed the coditionioning program over the summer receives a long, thoughtful explanation that credits conditions around the program and other influences more than anything he does.
"When you say changes I made, I don't make changes, I give the coaching staff what they need," said Viloria. "Sometimes the objective changes or sometimes the strategy changes.
"So with our guys because of what [the coaches] have recruited, they've recruited size, they've recruited strength, we can now start to focus more on speed, more on endurance and most importantly more on recovery."
Florida State has overhauled its roster and now looks little like the team Bobby Bowden handed over a few years ago in terms of size and physicality and more like an SEC-built football team. There's no better example than along the defensive line where what was once considered a weakness now boasts some of the best depth and playmaking ability in the country.
The shift reflects Jimbo Fisher's approach to building a team. Despite his offensive accumen, Fisher's time in the SEC has taught him that you win up front with big athletic bodies. That shift in philosophy has lead to different kinds of recruits, and a different kind of conditioning program.
"If you contstantly tear down the body it never has a chance to fix itself," said Viloria. "If you're constantly working on strength then you never will focus on speed, then you'll never get the power you want. This summer we've been able to make changes because of the past two and half years, because of the recruiting coach has done."
Regardless of how many big, strong bodies Fisher can bring to Florida State and put under the aupsices of Viloria and staff though, it ultimately still comes down to one thing.
"Number one is just consistency, we can have the best program on the planet and it can be researched by every scientist in the world but if they don't walk in the door it won't work," says Viloria. "If they don't do it regularly it's not going to work, we won't see results. That's probably step number one. I can't make you a hard worker unless you work hard once. I can't make you stronger unless you work on getting stronger once. And then repeat it."
Despite all the improvements to the approach without the work, nobody can get better.
"At the end of the day you can have all the devices but you still have to run, you can have the fanciest weights on the planet but they still have to lift it to get the results. So while everything is changing, nothing has really changed. The championship, the toughness, the effort, the discipline, the drive that Coach [Fisher] always talks about, that's still there. We're just being smarter so our athletes can do what they do longer."