UW Coach Ben Ianacchione Interview Transcript

UW Sports Performance Director gave his first feature interview at Wyoming with 
K2TV Sports Director Andrew Haubner Friday afternoon. 
Here is the full interview transcript. 
Catch Coach Iannacchione on Sports Corner, Sunday night at 10:30 pm.

K2TV Sports Anchor Andrew Haubner: 
Good to have you with us, how are you liking Wyoming so far?
Wyoming Sports Performance Director Ben Iannacchione: 
Absolutely love it. Very honored to be here.

AH: So I guess we'll start with your Mountain West days. You've got a bit of familiarity with the conference being a Boise State guy. What has the conference changed into from the time you were there with Coach Peterson to what it is now?
BI: I can't really answer that because I haven't seen our guys play yet. But the type of athlete that we have on this team, I'm gonna be honest with you: It is better than the type of athlete that I played with, better than the athlete that I was. So that's really exciting to see. And that's everywhere. That's the skill positions, that's the offensive line and the defensive line. We have a lot of really good athletes on this team and I'm excited to see them perform.

AH: When you look at what was done well in the Chris Petersen years when you were there at Boise State is there anything from that program that you see in Wyoming or anything there that could be applicable to here in your time in Laramie?
BI: Honestly that is what kind of what drew me to the position originally. I spent a year at Youngstown State so we played against North Dakota State, and I saw how they played and how disciplined they were. And there's some teams where you watch them and say, 'that team knows how to win', and North Dakota State was one of those teams. When I went back to LSU, I still kind of watched Boise, still followed Boise and Wyoming beat Boise a couple of years ago and I said 'wait that's the same coach that coached at North Dakota State and that team plays in a way that's similar to the teams that I was a part of playing.' I said ' they're on to something. That can be a really special place.' And I had some friends that were coaching at Boise and I said, 'what's going on? And they said 'they're really on to something special there'". So when Coach Bohl originally called me and I was blown away by the opportunity and I remembered that's the same coach and thinking man he's a good coach. He started at North Dakota State and I've watched Wyoming for the last couple of years having played at Boise State. So what I'm getting at having now been here, having met the kids, having seen their work ethic, having seen how disciplined they are, how detail oriented they are, I see exactly why Coach Bohl is as successful as he is and why Wyoming is taking the steps that they are taking.

AH: You showed up at a pretty good time, the High Altitude Performance Center is about to be finished up. Are you excited to step into the new job and the facilities that come with it?
BI: It's unbelievable, I actually just walked through it before I came over here and they just got the racks in place, put some of the barbells in and are kind of fine tuning some things. It's as nice a facility that you're gonna see anywhere in the country so you have that. It's unbelievable. And the kids deserve it so I'm excited.

AH: Let's transition to your time at LSU. Obviously Tommy Moffitt is a legend amongst collegiate weightrooms across the country. There's guys off his coaching tree including guys like you and Coach Donoval that have gone on to do great things on other power 5/Division I football teams. What does Tommy do that is so unique that churns out excellent strength & conditioning.
BI: Well there are so many things that he does that make him who he is and if I can have half the successful career as he's had, I'll feel good about myself. And when I mean a successful career, I don't mean the national championships he's won. I mean the lives he's affected. He's taught me how to be a Coach. All the other guys you talk about, Paul Jackson, Scott Cochran's, all those other guys. He taught them how to be good coaches. But the neatest thing to see with Coach Moffitt is, and what I love so much, is how much the guys looked up to him. He was a mentor and was a father figure to me and he's that same way to the guys. Yes, he's an unbelievable strength coach. He got em big, and he got em strong, and he got em fast, powerful. But he really taught them how to be young men. He taught them about discipline. He taught them about accountability and they loved him for it. So throughout my time there would also be people who come back that come use the weight room. So to impact lives like that, to me that's really what it's all about. And if we can hear what Coach Moffitt has taught us, then the result on the football team will come and I believe that. So yeah, he's really meant an awful lot to me and there's a ton of former athletes and coaches that would say the same thing.

AH: As a Strength & Conditioning Coach, you stay in touch and see the players arguably more than any other coach on the staff is. And it seems to me, from your description of him that Coach Moffitt is this incredibly personable guy. How important is that part of being a strength & conditioning coach? Being a personable guy that can relate to these kids?
BI: Well you have to. And I think what I think draws so many coaches and myself to coaching is our core values and what we really care about. From when you wake up every morning and you have a passion to help young men to not only be better football players but one day better fathers, better brothers, better sons whatever it might be. It just comes with the territory. You just love being around the guys. One thing Coach Moffitt taught me was to love being around *inaudible* too. He puts as much time into his players as he does his assistant coaches so that we can go on and do what we're doing right now. To answer your question I think it comes with the territory. I have a passion to help these guys so it's easy to be personable and want to talk with them.

AH: So you had a couple of high level athletes in your time at LSU. You did some work with the running backs in your time so I can only assume that's Derrius Guice and Leonard Fournette as part of that group in the weight room. What's it like being in the weight room and coaching up guys like Fournette, who, in his rookie year, is running in the AFC Championship with the Jags. What's that like?
BI: It's really neat to see Leonard go on and do what he's doing. And there's a bunch of other guys I had the opportunity to coach like that. The cool part about being a strength coach though and why I was so drawn to strength & conditioning is that I treat every athlete the same. So whether you're Leonard Fournette or is a guy that's a walk-on who will never play. Whatever your role is on the team, I make sure I coach you the same. I make sure I care about you the same. But it is neat. But I'll tell you what, it's equally neat to see someone go off and become a successful businessman, or become a teacher. We just had one of my former players, he was a wide receiver named Cajun Boone. He just called me and he's a teacher now in Memphis and we talked on the phone for awhile. And to me that's just as neat too. To see any man go on and be a successful young man is really cool.

AH: From the athletic perspective, obviously the SEC is kind of its' own animal in regards to the athletes that it has and the quality of football in the conference. When you look at what SEC schools do differently that sets them so apart seemingly from the aspect of their athletes...is there a secret to the sauce or do you do the same job just better?
BI: So in the SEC you kind of recruit some guys that are almost ready made. You recruit some o-linemen that are 6'5, 290 pounds and 19 percent body fat and they're ready to roll. And you get a lot of those guys because of the region of the country that you are in, the prestige of the program, I guess. But what's so exciting and I was a part of teams that felt this way so it's great to be back and a part of this again. The kids we have here at Wyoming, they might need to be developed for a year or two. But if they come in and train hard every day and are professional about it, we'll be a team that can beat anybody. I firmly believe that. I don't care if you're the SEC or the Big Ten. It doesn't matter. If you get a group of guys that believe in themselves and believe in the team, compete with themselves every day to be the best version of themselves they can be, we can beat anybody.

AH: On that note: If you have guys that are ready made and then the guys that come to Wyoming-diamonds in the rough that need some development-Does the strength and conditioning program you gives those athletes change or differ between that ready made guy and a guy who needs development?
BI: Yes it does. Absolutely and that's a good question.
AH: How so?
BI: We'll talk offensive line. That's an easy group to talk about. At a school like LSU in the SEC, like I said, you'll get a guy that comes in 290, can bench mid 300, squat 500 pounds. The strength is already there, the size is already there. So you take those guys and develop their speed and develop their power. They have the natural strength, they have the size, so you just gotta fine tune em and go. Whereas here right now, we're taking the time to do what's called a hypertrophy phase. We're trying to put some good quality size back on our guys. Some of our O-Lineman, and they're all in really good shape. But they're 280. I know some of our recruits are gonna come in around 250. So we have to spend the time putting some good weight back on them, putting good strength on them. And then once we get to the summer months, when we get closer to competition, to be honest with you, those training programs will be pretty similar in the months of June an July. Whenever you get close to competition, at that point you got seven weeks and that should be pretty similar. These early months are gonna be what's good for em.

AH: Last question I got for you Coach: Going back to your Boise State days, those teams, even with the Playoff, are looked as the model G5 teams that could knock on the door and compete with anybody in the Power 5. UCF kinda had this type of year this season and there was this big debate about where the G5 is in comparison to the Power 5. Where do you think a team like Wyoming can be in that conversation? Could a team like Wyoming ever be like those Boise teams that you were on in the mid-to-late 2000's there?
BI: Absolutely, 100 percent. And I knew that-When I originally talked to Coach Bohl on the phone, I was very excited and I thought, man I really want this job. When I came out here and got the opportunity to meet Coach Bohl in person, and to hear him lay out his vision and to hear what his core values are, and to see the support but of not only the city of Laramie, but of the whole state of Wyoming, and to see the building that they're building. Absolutely. I 100 percent believe that. And now, like I said, I get the opportunity to meet these guys and to see the type of athlete that we have here, there's no reason why we can't do something special here. Absolutely