Nearly two decades ago, Florida strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt took his talents to Oklahoma, right alongside Bob Stoops.
Schmidt left a national power for a program trying to restore its dominance.
“I enjoy putting teams together,” Schmidt told Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World.” I enjoy getting into a program and starting it from the ground up and getting people to buy into what you’re doing.”
It’s safe to say Schmidt accomplished his goal.
Fast forward to 2018 and Schmidt has played a considerable role in helping the Sooners win one national championship, appear in three others and secure a mind-boggling 11 Big 12 championship.
After 19 years with the Sooners, though, Schmidt’s is on to his next challenge, leaving what’s now Lincoln Riley’s powerhouse program at Oklahoma for what’s now a rebuild at Texas A&M under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
“I knew what this place was about I knew it was a sleeping giant,” Schmidt told Emig of Texas A&M. “I just think with good leadership, which Jimbo’s got and the athletic director here, the sky’s the limit.”
Much like Oklahoma prior to Schmidt’s arrival, Texas A&M is desperate for national prominence, being without a conference title since 1998 as a member of the Big 12, and sneaking just above .500 in SEC play with a 25-23 in-conference record.
Bearing in mind that helping build a team from the ground up, the decision to depart from Oklahoma for Texas A&M makes plenty of sense, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy decision.
In fact, as Schmidt told Emig, it was quite the opposite.
“It was really hard,” Schmidt said of the day he informed Riley he was leaving. “He wanted to make it right. He handled it like he does everything else — the right way. I said, ‘Hey, I’ve made my decision.’ I knew in my mind it was the right thing.”
“It was really tough facing him, with how good people at OU were to me,” Schmidt added. I didn’t want to play one against the other. I was either all in or I was out.”
After being all in at Oklahoma for 19 seasons, Schmidt is finally out, having helped leave the Sooners in a much better place than he found them.
The full feature on Schmidt can be found here.
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