Bennie Wylie named OU Director of Sports Performance for Football
University of Oklahoma Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione and Head Football Coach Lincoln Riley announced Bennie Wylie as the Sooners' new director of sports performance for football Tuesday, pending approval by the OU Board of Regents.
Wylie, who has earned a reputation as one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the country, joins the OU program after serving as the strength and conditioning head coach for football at the University of Texas (2011-13 seasons) and the University of Tennessee (2010), and the head strength and conditioning coach at Texas Tech University (2002-09). Most recently, he was director of performance at The Performance Lab, a private group-training strength and fitness center in Abilene, Texas.
A native of Mexia, Texas, Wylie served an assistant strength and conditioning coach with the Dallas Cowboys for four years (1999-02) under former OU strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek, helping rehabilitate injured players. In addition to working with the Cowboys, Wylie also spent the spring seasons heading the strength and conditioning program for the Dallas Desperados arena football team.
"There's nobody in the business I respect more than Bennie Wylie," said Riley, "and I knew that if I ever had a strength and conditioning opening that I'd love to reunite with him. We had a lot of years together at Texas Tech, and during that time I was able to watch his work and see the impact he had on our players both physically and on their lives overall.
"He's a great motivator as well as a very, very knowledgeable strength coach. And he brings a really unique approach in that he does a lot of the workouts with his guys; kind of goes through the same tough things that they do. Plus, he just has a unique gift of bringing the best out of people.
"This is certainly an important position, and I think we just hired the best person in the country."
Wylie, who is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute and USA Weightlifting, was named a Master Strength and Conditioning Coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association in 2012. The organization's highest honor, it represents professionalism, knowledge, experience, expertise and longevity in the field.
"Bennie Wylie holds an outstanding reputation in the strength and conditioning profession both for his skill and the way he inspires people," said Castiglione. "We're excited to welcome him to Norman. His personality and approach mesh with our department's core values, and our football student-athletes will fall in love with his energy and attitude. Strength and conditioning — just like sports medicine, nutrition and psychological resources — is a vital component of our overall performance approach here at OU, and we have every belief that Bennie will bring out the absolute best in our student-athletes."
Wylie graduated from Sam Houston State in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in kinesiology after earning four letters in football as a running back (1994-97) and participating on the track and field team for three years. He was a football team captain in 1997, the same year he earned second-team All-Southland Conference honors.
He got his start in strength and conditioning as a graduate assistant at Sam Houston State in 1999, and was named the Bearkats' interim head strength and conditioning coach that same year.
"I'm incredibly excited for this opportunity, especially considering I'm only the fifth strength and conditioning coach in the history of this great football program," said Wylie. "That mean's we've been doing it right for a long time, and we're going to continue to do it right.
"It's great to be back with so many members of this staff. I've known Coach Riley since he was 18 years old at Texas Tech. To see him evolve as a man, as a coach and as a mentor has been incredible. I'm just so proud of him. And then Coach (Ruffin) McNeill, Coach (Dennis) Simmons, Coach (Bill) Bedenbaugh — I've known all of those guys for a really long time. It's great to put our coaching family back together."
Wylie indicated Tuesday that he is no stranger to Oklahoma, despite just starting in his new role.
"I've followed this program for a long time, because my mentor, Joe Juraszek, was here forever," he said. "So I've known about the legacy here and what's expected. Coming in, I've seen nothing less than what I expected: great young men who have done it right, who are very respectful and are willing to do anything and everything it takes to be great, and to win at a high level year to year."
Wylie and his wife, Jennifer, have three children: 12-year-old twin sons Braden and Caden, and daughter Hope, who turns 4 in February.
Wylie replaces Jerry Schmidt, who served as OU's director of sports enhancement the last 19 years. The Sooners played in a bowl game all 19 of those seasons while winning 11 Big 12 Conference championships and the 2000 national title.