"Really? I don't know about all that," he said.
Indeed, the new assistant athletic director sounded much like Bill Murray's character in "Caddyshack" who proclaims he doesn't think the heavy stuff was gonna come for quite some time.
That time is now. Marotti said the team's offseason program wouldn't take a real step forward until Jan. 24 then continue to pick up as the second month of the calendar year kicks in.
"Really when we get into February, that's our offseason program," he said. "The coaches get off the road and we start doing our mat drills and the competitive things that we do. It really ramps it up."
In other words, it's time for the Buckeyes to buckle up.
What He's Looking For
The Buckeyes have already begun to understand what it means to be in a Marotti workout program, with each day's work beginning at 5 a.m. That fact is important, as it shows that while the workouts are obviously designed to work on a player's body, the development of mental toughness is just as important.
That's because Marotti believes he can tell how a player ticks quickly in the weight room, and one that excels in that high-stress crucible will be more likely to perform on the field when the bright lights go on.
"I think is 100 percent," he said. "I think I can tell what a guy is going to be like within a week, within a workout, just their whole attitude. The things that we work on, the measurables and all the physical stuff, but it's more about the mental part, more about the toughness part. We try to run a tough strength program."
In that vein, no stone is left unturned. Marotti oversees a staff of four full-time football strength and conditioning coaches – a large staff, but one he said is becoming the norm in big-time gridiron play – and also works with support staff to make sure all facets of a player's physical development are handled at the highest level.
"I believe and we believe that our athletes need to be held accountable from an effort standpoint, from a consistency standpoint, in everything they do," Marotti said. "It's not just the offseason program. It's all about development, the long-term development of that athlete. They have to learn what to eat, how to eat, when to sleep, how to sleep, how long they need to do this, how long they need to do that, to make them the best player."
Marotti and new head coach Urban Meyer have used their previous time together to come up with numerous ways to motivate players to reach those goals. One of those gambits was something called the "Champions Club" at Florida in which players who bought into the team system and turned into leaders were given perks like better gear and training table food.
Marotti agreed the set up was "high schoolish," but he also left little doubt it worked.
"We do a lot of motivational things because they're 18, 19 years old," he said. "They're young people. They're not grown up men that know. Some of them are, but most of them aren't yet, so we motivate them by things that motivate them. Things like that motivate them. You have to. You have to motivate them however you can motivate them. It's very important. That's my job, is to be a motivator in the weight room, in the team room, everywhere. That's how we're really good together."
In the end, the goal is to have the entire team pulling one way so that the coaches only have to get out of the way and let the players lead. It's fair to say that's what often happens in Meyer programs, especially as the coach won a pair of national championships at Florida.
"Ultimately the goal is they take care of each other, when they look to the right or the left and someone's not doing something right (they say something)," he said. "Yeah, it builds. It's really cool. It just builds and then when the really good stuff happens, it's worth it. … Once the players believe it, it's over."
Happy To Be Back
Marotti has a master's degree at Ohio State, one he earned after working with the Buckeyes in 1987-88 while also working at Grove City High School on the southwest side of town.
That's when he first met Meyer, who was a graduate assistant under head coach Earle Bruce in 1987, though the two didn't become close until later in their careers upon being reunited at Notre Dame. Still, there is something special to both about being back at a place from which they both have degrees, and while Marotti didn't say he'd put an Alumni Association sticker on his car like Meyer, his excitement is obvious.
"I'm jacked," he said. "It's changed a lot, but I'm jacked. I'm jacked because our family is from up this way. I'm with Coach Meyer and we have a great staff, the athletic director is awesome, the president is great. Everything is kind of all there."
Ohio State held such an important place in Marotti's heart that it's one of the few places he would have left Florida for. It's a perfect fit, as well. Marotti hails from western Pennsylvania, his daughter is verbally committed to play softball at Notre Dame and his son has applied to Ohio State as well.
"When all this came up, I said, ‘It's my home,' " he said. "I'm not going out West somewhere. I'm going to be around family, I'm going to be at a place that stands for so much, tradition, everything that this school stands for. I got it on a little piece of paper that has that name on it. That means a lot."
It also helps that he's working with Meyer, a confidant from the time the two worked together at Notre Dame. Meyer checks into the weight room numerous times each day to see what's going on, but when he's not around, he knows the program is in good hands.
"I think when you have a relationship with somebody before and you talk about the same things and you do the same things and you're always trying to make things better, I think we're thinking the same things," Marotti said. "When he goes away or he's on his downtime, he knows what's going on because that's what's always going on. There is a trust."