Josh Kendall

Dillman’s barber chair a seat of power for Gamecocks

South Carolina football coach Will Muschamp calls his weight room “the barber shop.”

It’s where his players can go complain about the head coach or banter about the day’s activities or both. The man in charge of that barber shop is the most important hire for any college football coach, Muschamp said. For him, it’s Jeff Dillman who, like Muschamp, is entering his second year of trying to turn around the Gamecocks program.

In addition to being charged with keeping up with all the latest developments in the strength and conditioning world, Dillman serves as sounding board and counselor for the players, while at the same time re-affirming Muschamp’s various mantras.

“I think we’re starting to see the benefits of Jeff Dillman and his staff in Year 2,” Muschamp said.

Dillman and his staff added a new feature this spring – yoga.

“It’s all about lower body flexibility and as a football player,” Muschamp said. “On the defensive side of the ball and anybody who has to play in space, change of direction is essential to being able to be a good football player and when you have lower body stiffness, it’s hard to change direction.”

Muschamp wanted to introduce yoga his first season but didn’t because of all the variables that came with getting the program through his first year. The reaction to its implementation this spring was mixed, he admits.

“I think the guys at first weren’t real excited about it, but all of them came to me afterward and said, ‘Coach, I’m really glad we’ve done this. This is helping,’ ” he said.

May will be relatively quiet for the Gamecocks and even for Dillman as it’s the month that puts the lightest workload on college football players. Still, South Carolina will have 45 scholarship players in “Maymester” sessions, which will mean they’ll likely be in Dillman’s barber chair plenty.

June will be when the push toward the fall starts in earnest.

“I hit the reset button,” Dillman said. “The old saying is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ well the new saying is, ‘If it ain’t broke, break it and fix it because the problems are different each year.’ 

The first summer Dillman spent a lot of time working on ways to bring the team’s hamstring and shoulder injuries down.

“What is the next issue?” Dillman asks. “Coach says we need to get them stronger.”

Muschamp said that Tuesday during his stop at the Lancaster County Gamecock Club. In fact, he’s probably said it at least once every week since he’s been wearing garnet and black.

Dillman can do that. What he won’t promise to do in the summer is get the team in shape for football, which starts with preseason practice in August.

That’s because nothing other than football can do that.

“It’s totally different when you put pads on and you have collisions. The amount of stress that is put on the body is through the roof,” Dillman said. “What we try to do is get them in such great shape that when they hit the field they can get into football shape faster.”

If that requires some sage advice or even a quick trim, Dillman is there for that, too.