Workout warriors: coaching edition 

May, 18, 2009
Because Monday marks the launch of our annual list of the fittest Freaks among college football players, I figured an apt sidebar to this week's top-10 list would be to rank the nation's fittest head coaches. It's a subject Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel hit on last week, and it's ripe for the dead of the offseason.

1. Mario Cristobal, Florida International: He also would be top dog if we were to rank head coaches most likely to win a scrap in the front yard of a recruit's home. And please don't counter with Ron Zook. Cristobal, who was on his way to a career as a Secret Service agent before he saw coaching as "a calling," would end up using the Illini coach's head as if it were roll-on deodorant. The former NFL offensive lineman, who ended his playing days at 330 pounds, has trimmed down to his current weight of 250 by dedicating himself to a Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai regimen for the past dozen years.

Cristobal, 38, still tries to get those workouts in at least once or twice a week during the offseason. He says his schedule doesn't allow for the time during the season, but he still pumps iron four days a week. "Sometimes I have to get it in at 5 a.m., sometimes I can only do it at 11 p.m.," says Cristobal, who tries to use practice as a way to incorporate cardio by running from drill to drill and play to play in the sticky Miami humidity. Cristobal also is very strict about his diet and comes from tough stock. His brother Luis, a former Hurricanes lineman, is a police sergeant who works in the homicide department in Miami.

2. Kyle Whittingham, Utah: The former BYU linebacker is still super intense. Even at 49, Whittingham loves to bike the hills in Utah and is an avid tennis player who also hits the weight room hard. Then there's this from a Utah staffer: "I know the guy's got the biggest calves I've ever seen."

3. Larry Fedora, Southern Miss: A former college receiver, Fedora weighs 185 pounds, the exact same weight at which he played. A self-described big workout guy, Fedora makes sure he gets in the weight room at least three times a week during the season. He aims to do a lot of core work and strives to make sure he doesn't lose muscle during the grind of the season.

4. Ron Zook, Illinois: Who hasn't seen the photo of a ripped Zook water skiing? Zook is a maniac about working out, colleagues say, and is extremely dedicated for a 55-year-old. He often works out twice a day.

5. Randy Shannon, Miami: It doesn't get much more humid than in South Florida. Shannon has been a dedicated runner for years and has shed much of the bulk he had during his playing days as a Dallas Cowboys linebacker.

6. Bo Pelini, Nebraska: It's not uncommon for Huskers fans to see Pelini running through downtown Lincoln during the offseason. He is said to run at least five miles every day, whether it's outside or on a treadmill during the winter. Pelini also plays a lot of lunchtime basketball during the offseason.

7. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma: Like a lot of coaches, Stoops tries to stay in shape by getting his workout in during the noon hour and does a combination of weight training, exercising on the StairMaster and a lot of swimming.

8. Tom O'Brien, NC State: Rain, snow or whatever, this 60-year-old former Marine gets his run in. In fact, after his introductory news conference when he was named the Pack's head coach two years ago, he asked a State staffer to find him some shorts so he could run.

9. Pete Carroll, USC: One of the oldest guys on this list at 57, Carroll strives to keep up the tempo at all times. He is said to be a tenacious competitor during lunchtime basketball. He also bodyboards, hits the weights and makes a point to throw during practice drills. It's always impressive to see a guy Carroll's age zinging deep outs 40 yards down the field every afternoon. He also probably surprised many folks browsing the Web when he displayed a lean physique during a swimming race with pal Will Ferrell that drew headlines such as, "Pete Carroll has a six-pack?!?"

10. Ron English, Eastern Michigan: A former college defensive back, English still looks as though he could cover some receivers. Since he took over the EMU job in December, it hasn't been uncommon to see him taking an early-morning run around campus.

To read the rest of Bruce Feldman's blog, sign up for ESPN Insider. Insider