Alabama football has replaced a Head Strength and Conditioning Coach with a Director of Sports Performance and Director of Performance Science.

In officially announcing David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea as members of its staff, UA gave Ballou the title of Director of Sports Performance and Dr. Rhea the title of Director of Performance Science. UA made them both official Tuesday morning.

“Just as with any other area, we feel that it is imperative that we adopt and integrate advancements in the field of strength and conditioning that will provide elite training, while better protecting our players from injuries and helping them develop and perform at a higher level,” UA head coach Nick Saban said in a statement. “Our program has been working toward these type of advancements with the development and construction of our own sports science center, and with the addition of David and Matt, we believe our student-athletes will be better equipped to reach their goals for many years to come.”

The move is atypical in that most schools have one person at the head of their strength and conditioning program, but UA is replacing one person (Scott Cochran) with two. Collaboration was always going to be a significant part of the job with the addition of the under-construction sport science center, and Ballou and Dr. Rhea were brought to UA with that vision in mind.

“The collaboration between strength and conditioning, sports medicine and nutrition are absolutely critical for the success of our program,” Alabama Director of Sports Medicine Jeff Allen said in the statement. “The addition of Coach Ballou and Dr. Rhea to our program will allow us to take full advantage of our sports science center. The data they will generate on our athletes, through their unique training methods, will allow us to know exactly how to manage our team to ensure we are performing at our best each Saturday and make sure we are doing all we can to prevent injuries.”

Ballou and Dr. Rhea both come from Indiana, where Ballou played as a fullback in the late 1990s. Both also spent time at IMG Academy, the prep school in Bradenton, Florida, that routinely attracts highly rated recruits from across the country. Both worked there in 2016 and Dr. Rhea stayed for 2017 while Ballou joined Notre Dame’s staff for a year.

“Player development is my passion” Ballou said in the statement. “We can’t wait to get to Tuscaloosa and begin working with some of the best athletes and football players in the nation. We will attack all avenues of performance to make sure we are optimizing the physical abilities of every player on the roster.”

Dr. Rhea spent the first part of his career in academia and consulting, teaching kinesiology at A.T. Still University.

“For the past 22 years, I have been studying how best to develop athletes, prevent injuries and prime for competition,” Rhea said in the statement. “Through research, I have found some innovative ways to target neuromuscular issues that are limiting performance and, by teaming up with one of best strength and conditioning coaches in the world, we can target those limiting factors during training.

“Everyone works hard in football these days, and our system involves a lot of hard work, but not just for the sake of causing pain and suffering. It involves hard work because getting improvements in very elite athletes is very challenging. We are combining hard work with very scientific methods in order to maximize development and preparation.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson

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