For more than a decade, Shannon Turley played a significant role in the building and development of a championship football program at Stanford.
He is now looking to make a similar impact on the Colorado Buffaloes.
Hired Jan. 29 as CU’s director of strength and conditioning, Turley has spent the past two months laying the foundation for the Buffs as they open spring practices on Monday.
“I’m trying to meet the players where they are right now, and prepare them for spring as our first task,” Turley said, adding that implementing his full program is “something that will take time. It’ll take years.”
Turley was the director of sports performance at Stanford from 2007-19 before being fired in April of 2019 for undisclosed reasons.
“It was difficult,” he said of being fired, “but I had to take responsibility for my actions and not look at the opportunity to blame anyone else. This is something that I challenge our players to do.
“I was very grateful to have the opportunity to reflect and recharge and prepare for an opportunity like this at CU. I’m very excited about it, and grateful for the opportunity, and look forward to trying to build a championship level program here in Boulder, very similar to what we were able to achieve at Stanford, because nobody believed we could do that when we got there in 2007.”
Stanford had gone through five consecutive losing seasons, including 1-11 in 2006, before hiring Jim Harbaugh as head coach after the 2006 season. Turley, who was with Harbaugh at San Diego, followed him to Stanford.
Turley was with the Cardinal for 12 seasons, helping them to 10 consecutive bowls from 2009-18. Stanford reached the Pac-12 title game four times — winning it three times — from 2012-17, and never won less than eight games in Turley’s final 10 years there.
He now comes to a CU program that is coming off a 4-2 record in a pandemic-shortened season, but that hasn’t won more than five games since 2016.
Much like Stanford in 2007, CU isn’t viewed nationally as a conference title contender.
“I have always been someone that thrives off of that doubt and I’m looking forward to the opportunity here,” he said.
Recognized as one of the best in his field, Turley was named the FootballScoop.com strength and conditioning coach of the year in 2011. In 2013, the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) named him the college strength and conditioning coach of the year.
While he said it will take some time to implement his program at CU, he added, “Thankfully, from my experience at Stanford I learned a great deal about how to teach that process, and how to implement that in the most efficient way possible.”
It’s helped that CU has hired two staff members who were with Turley at Stanford, including Darius Reese, who was the assistant director of football sports performance for the Cardinal the past two years.
CU assistant director of player personnel Chandler Dorrell and graduate assistant coach Aziz Shittu were coached by Turley as players.
“They’ve helped me in terms of learning about the system and the structure that we’re building here in our program, and more importantly about the players and what I can do to establish that level of trust and respect,” Turley said.
In addition to the opportunity to get back into coaching at the college level, Turley said CU was attractive to him because of the respect he has for Buffs head coach Karl Dorrell.
“It starts with that relationship with the head coach,” Turley said. “Making sure that we’re on the same page and have the same values fundamentally is essential.”
Dorrell recently told BuffZone that the offseason program under Turley is going well and the players “are getting better every week.”
The past couple of months have been just the start, though, as Turley has long-term goals with the Buffs.
“We’re hoping to be able to build on it every single day and get better in whatever the challenge is every day that we train,” he said. “We’ll continue to build it throughout spring practice and then again in the summer and our expectations will rise daily for our players.”