Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Former KU Strength Coach Part of Kansas State's Sunflower Dominance

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Former KU Strength Coach Part of Kansas State's Sunflower Dominance

Article excerpt

LAWRENCE -- Since Mark Mangino was ousted as the Kansas football coach, two facets that made the Jayhawks competitive under his watch surface with each renewal of the Sunflower Showdown.

Strength and conditioning.

The coach who trained most of Mangino's KU teams was Chris Dawson.

About the time Mangino was terminated, Dawson was, too.

Confronted by the KU athletics administration, sources said, to squeal on Mangino, Dawson refused and was left to find new work.

He did not travel far. Since 2010, Dawson has been in charge of strength and conditioning for Kansas State football, which has not lost to Kansas since Bill Snyder returned as coach in 2009. The Wildcats will attempt to extend their in-state streak in a 2 p.m. clash Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"Chris was the type of person who could push kids and push them hard,'' said Mangino, "but they worked hard for him because he also had a way of talking to them and also got them to see results. ... If kids see themselves get better, you'll get more out of them.''

The strength coach is among the most instrumental assistants on any major college football staff. During the offseason months and particularly in the summer, when other staff members are not allowed to coach players, the person responsible for strength and conditioning is a head coach of sorts.

Don't believe that? Read what former KU running back Jake Sharp said once when assessing Dawson's role shaping the Jayhawks:

"A college football player's day starts and ends with the strength coach,'' Sharp said. "Your time spent with him throughout your career is two- or three-fold what you'll ever spend with your position coach and about 100 times more than what you'll see of your head coach, so it's really important.''

The job requires a strength coach to keep thorough records on each player. Conditioning programs are specifically tailored.

Dawson, who played for Oklahoma and worked on its strength staff when Mangino was an assistant for the Sooners, also helped design the training center KU opened in 2008 as part of its football complex. …

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