Anatomy of an Era: Final Chapter/BRYAN BAILEY

Categories: Football No Place
Bryan Bailey stretching USC's Reggie Bush
Bryan Bailey stretching USC's Reggie Bush

Excerpted from Chapter 104, No Place Like Nebraska: Anatomy of an Era, Vol. 2 by Paul Koch



Anatomy of an Era: Final Chapter/BRYAN BAILEY

Then there were the BIG THREE of the support staff (all native Nebraskans), those individuals who seemed to hold a certain something extra, something special, some extraordinary method of inuring themselves to the kids to the greatest extent. The players rave about them to this day. All Eminence Inliers, they filled the roles of Strength Coach, Athletic Trainer, and Academics/Life Skills Director to the Nth degree and more for the student-athletes. They were worth their weight in gold for the influence, the guidance, and the professional skills they administered on a daily basis:

The Number 1 Eminence Inlier was Strength & Conditioning/Rehab Specialist, Bryan Bailey, hailing from Arnold, Nebraska…

He was the guru behind it all. He was the mad scientist, basically, in the weightroom. He had us doing all kinds of stuff that we never did and probably never did again after we left the school… All the guys who handled the ball offensively and them guys on the defense, he basically personally worked them out. If you went in there individually you were out of luck, because he was going to kill you… If you came in there with two or three guys you were alright, you were going to survive. He was the only guy that worked me out in the weightroom so bad that I would throw up… he just didn’t coach you, he told you why you were doing a certain workout, what it’d do for your body… the purpose of that. He would explain every workout, why you did it. So then when you do it you’re like, ‘Okay, if I don’t do it like that I’m not going to get the results I want.’ So he explained all that to you. And then after the workout the dude would stretch you out personally. He’d stretch any guy out who could take it, pretty much. – Ahman Green

…that guy, when you worked out with that guy you felt like you were gonna die- but he’d just keep pushing you and pushing you and pushing you. He was the guy you really felt like he cared about you, not only getting in shape and all that, but as a person. I really felt if it wasn’t for him -and Boyd got all the credit- but Bryan Bailey was the one who did the majority of the work. – Mike Anderson


Brook Berringer & Bryan Bailey


… if it wasn’t for Bryan Bailey… I probably would’ve had to give up football.     – Kenny Wilhite

Bryan Bailey. I love that guy. We would go down to the Mushroom Gardens under East Stadium. Most people don’t even know that’s there. The guy had so much knowledge and training and the idea that he wanted us to be so successful, along with injury prevention. That guy would go spend half of his day going to the library looking up things to help us be better, you know. He’d try extra training methods and extra things to do, whatever, and he would spend an extra hour stretching us just so we’d be better. That guy really put his heart into his position as a strength coach, and the shit that guy would make us do? He would get Christian and us guys together and make us do these crazy things, like making us go through all these obstacles over at the State Fairgrounds, or he’d make us do walking lunges all around Mushroom Gardens. Remember that? …He would kill us! …But I tell you what, he put so much love and so much care into us there’s no reason he shouldn’t get all the respect in the world. I miss the little f***er. He was a good dude. – Brian Nunns

Some wondered if he might have taken up residence in the weight room…

He was always there. Always there. Whether you came at six o’clock in the morning or stayed ‘til 8 at night, he was always there… he was always willing to listen to you bitch or moan. He was always pushing you to get better in the weightroom. There was no one else I worked out with. I don’t know why, and it was just kind of a weird deal… He always had something quirky –or, I call it innovative- that he was working on. So he got you out of the boredom that can be working out and shook it up but still remained true to the core principles of what we were trying to do, trying to accomplish. And I think he had the trust of a lot of players. And that was really important… he could be one of the guys that you go to to talk about your family, how bad practice sucks or any of those. He’d sit there and listen to you, but yet he’d still make you, in some roundabout way, get a good workout in when you didn’t want to. – Aaron Taylor



Those guys just loved Bryan Bailey… Because Bryan was a very caring guy. He made no money, hardly, but he could relate to the players and did a lot of individual stuff with them, and he helped them… Bryan was always there for them…     – Jack Stark

He was always very frank and honest, even when bringing on pain…

I always, always, always loved Bryan Bailey, because Bailey rehabbed my knee. He kicked my ass. But you know what, he told me ahead of time, “Bring a towel with you when you come in here, so you can put it in your mouth. Because we’re gonna do this right. Tom told me he wanted you back to as good as you were, but I’m gonna bring you back better than you were. So we’re gonna go to work.“ He kicked my ass for about a year. It was a long rehab, it was tough for me after reaching a certain status. I didn’t know if I was gonna come back the same way; I was a young college guy with a whole bunch of hormones and attitudes and away from home… Bryan helped me tremendously …He was instrumental. He and Mike Arthur, I think those guys did a lot of work behind the scenes that went unrecognized. ..Bryan Bailey, he did such a tremendous job rehabbing my knee that I got a higher rating on my surgically repaired knee than most guys were getting on their non-surgical knees at the Pro Combine.          – John Reece

Another guy, Bryan Bailey, a lot of people don’t realize what he did. There was no one like Bryan. He was just a little, mean bastard, that’s for sure… would find ways to push your buttons, where you sometimes felt like you wanted to take a swing at them.             – Chris Norris


John Reece & Kenny Wilhite: Bowl Prep


Tom Osborne knew he had something special from the outset, when players were secretly seeking out his services across campus…

I know the reason he got hired on before I got there was because years ago all these players were leaving campus and going over to him at the Devaney Sports Center to get rehabbed. (laughs) So Osborne was like, “Hey, we’ve got to put a stop to this.” So they hired him on over for the football part of things. He was very knowledgeable. Always pushing himself to learn more, become better and learn new techniques. I always appreciate people who like to learn instead of ”I know it all.” – David Alderman

I give him credit all the time. He did an outstanding job with me. – Cory Schlesinger

Bryan‘s a good guy and he took care of some players and they loved it. Boy, I tell you, that guy? He’s a good guy, too. He’s something else. You could always count on him.       – Jack Nickolite


Jack Nickolite


His thinking was very ‘outside the box’…

He always had a very challenging take on a lot of training regimens and had interesting things to try, innovative ideas, motivating and pushing you. If you had a question or weakness, I think he was just a great personality to have in the strength and conditioning program… I think he was super-instrumental… I always thought Bryan Bailey had lot of really good ideas. Some guys thought he was crazy, but he always seemed to want to make you do more. Sometimes I thought he was crazy, but I’d think, ‘this guy has a point here.’ He just made me want to be more and do more with his crazy regimens. He’d have us run through the hurdles, and these big cement drainage pipes and jumping fences. Different, crazy stuff. I don’t even think Boyd knew he was doing some of that stuff. (laughs) And he’d even take us to the Devaney Sports Center pool and have us do some crazy exercises…  – Matt Shaw

He would come up with the most unorthodox things for you to do. Everybody usually had you benching or squatting or sprinting, and he’s got you doing some crazy thing you’ve never done in your life. But once you’re done you’re stronger and you just go, ‘Where in the hell did he get that from?’ But he definitely had a big impact on a lot of us. – Tony Veland


Tony Veland
Tony Veland


Many also sought him out for polishing touches before the Pro Combine…

He was the guy that I always kind of went to as an athlete, as a player. He was the guy that trained me when I was getting ready for the NFL, for the combine. He was a guy, you know, that didn’t get a lot of the press or a lot of the praise that he maybe should have. I think the guys within the program knew, because he was the guy that most of them went to. He wasn’t the guy who had the big desk or the big office, but he had the office that was usually filled with the most players… he had the heart of a lion. He had the heart of a 300-pounder. He didn’t care that he weighed half as much as you, he was going to push you. And you could tell him that you were going to wring his neck or cut off his arm, but he didn’t care. He loved the program, too.   – Jason Peter

If you could keep up with Bryan Bailey you were in good company…

I remember Bryan Bailey. He was kind of a sadist at the time. He would always take guys and take a special interest in people and try to motivate them to train, so he’d grab you and, “Hey, let’s go workout today.” And he’d train you and just kick your ass. So he hung out with guys and did some of those things from a training standpoint. He went out of his way to do a lot of stuff.  – Bruce Moore


Bryan Bailey
Fun & games with Bryan Bailey (2nd from right)


…the man was definitely and exercise-aholic… 

He just got up in the morning and ran and worked out all day and worked out at night. Very dedicated to athletes. I don’t think you’d find another strength coach in America more dedicated to athletes. And whether it was a guy starting on any team or the 3rd or 4th string player, he was definitely there for the athletes… he would make up the goofiest exercises and he just loved to torture people. He loved to give ‘em pain.             – Curt Thompson

The kids flocked to him like no other…

Bryan was the kind of guy that pushed you to be the best you could be in the weightroom and definitely turned me into a different player as far as my figure, my strength. I know it was Boyd Epley’s program, but there was something about Bryan that would make you go out and do something that you normally wouldn’t do, that he pushed you to do. Bryan was strong and he was a small guy, but the way he talked to you and believed in you, it put a lot of things in your head to go out there and be the best you could be. And it’s because he had to get you ready, because in that weightroom it was something serious. – Corey Dixon

Maybe it was his undying passion for attaining Husker Football championships…

Bailey was the guy who really took it to the next level from a relationship standpoint. He really got to know a lot of the players and did what he could to make us better, not just the players who were out there every day, but the players who were rehabbing injuries and had to spend a lot of time in the weight room.  – Tony Veland

Bailey would push me harder than anyone… – Matt Turman



Especially the Pipeline, who were his ‘birds of a bigger feather’…

Bryan Bailey. I think if you look at people that he really helped, he helped the O-line out a lot, he helped our training. He’d do a lot… Bryan Bailey meant a lot to us offensive linemen. He’d work out with us in the winter conditioning. We were his group. He’d stretch us and help us do ropes in those summer workouts. He was always there for us… And if he could do anything to be on that field, Bryan would have been on that field playing football. But God didn’t bless him to be an offensive lineman. …He had the same demeanor as us. He was just like an offensive lineman, just in a little person’s body. (laughs) He definitely did a lot for us on the offensive line.  – Chris Dishman

…he was one of my favorites. I don’t think he gets any credit. He was always there working with guys on the O-line or guys who were injured. He was around all the time and the guys had a really good relationship with him where you could talk with him and get along with him. And when Bryan said it was time to do something, guys would do it. I think the guys had a lot of respect for Bryan. – Bryan Pruitt


 Copyright @ 2013 Thermopylae Press. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credits : Unknown Original Sources/Updates Welcomed

Author assumes no responsibility for interviewee errors or misstatements of fact.


Summary Chapter to be continued…..