Butch Reynolds is happy to be home.
The former Ohio State track star, who in 1988 set the world record in the 400-meter dash and then went on to compete in three Olympic Games, has returned to his alma mater and will serve as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. He will specialize in speed training and nutrition.
"This is an honor," Reynolds said Tuesday. "This is like, for me, going to the Olympics. Running out the Horseshoe come September is going to be a dream come true for me. I'm glad that (head coach Jim) Tressel gave me the opportunity to really showcase my ability to make this team faster, hopefully.
"I'm happy. I'm back at home. I've been away for about seven years. To come back here, I can workout again here and just be at home."
Reynolds is more than just a track guy helping out with football. He played football in high school and says he has a deep understanding for the sport.
"Well, I've always loved football," he said. "That was my first love before track and field. I tried out for the Cleveland Browns back in 1989. So, I do understand the concept of football. And then when I was coming back up here, I was going by seeing Coach Tressel, and then one thing lead to another. (Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim) Bollman came and saw me workout some people in Akron and one thing lead to another."
Reynolds is looking forward to working with OSU's speed merchants such as Ted Ginn Jr.
"Well, Ted Ginn is just different. He's separate. He's a gift," Reynolds said. "Ted, all I will do with him is work on form and technique, because the speed is there. But just like any other athlete that is here, I will work on form and technique more than anything else."
Reynolds was asked point blank if he can make the Buckeyes a faster team.
"Oh yeah, that's why coach has me here," he said. "I better, if I want to stay here. No, we don't have a magical wand or anything like that, but what we do have is the desire to make them focus and make them prepare every day like it's the last day and make them do their best."
But it's not just the skilled position players that Reynolds will be working with. It's also important for OSU's linemen to add some speed and quickness to their game.
"You get those 300 pound linemen going head to head, and they have more speed, that will make them that much stronger, Reynolds said. "That's a good place to focus - the big linemen. The D-backs, wide receivers, there's always focus on their speed, but now we're going to put some speed on these linemen. You're probably going to see them downfield making tackles, downfield blocking for them. That's the whole bringing it together as one team."
Reynolds explained how he can help the Buckeyes work on their form and technique.
"I've got guys that never use their arms when they run," he said. "When I teach these guys how to use their arms and how to have their rhythm, it's going to increase automatically. And then in the day-to-day processes, we'll all get better as a team."
Reynolds was asked for his plans this summer.
"Work, work work, work," he said. "Coach Tressel is talking about 12, 14-hour days. That's really new for me. I'm looking forward to it. If that's what it takes to be a national champion, I'm there. So, it's going to be a very hectic schedule, but I've got some great coaches and some great strength coaches that are going to work with me and make sure that I do what I came to do."
Reynolds could also help OSU in its recruiting efforts.
"I hope so," he said. "I would love to understand that. But Coach Tressel is a very smart man. He's taking me step by step until I get my bearings. Because if they had me recruiting and doing what I'm doing now, man, I'd really be smaller."
* Ohio State head strength and conditioning coach Al Johnson could not be happier with the hiring of Reynolds.
"Oh, unbelievable," Johnson said. "What a great opportunity for us and the program. With his expertise and where's he's been - not just from a national perspective, but from an international perspective - he brings so much to the table. What an exciting time for us. The timing couldn't be any better. Right now, we're going into our summer program, starting Monday, our bottom line, and it's a win-win situation. So, we're very ecstatic."
But can Johnson beat Reynolds in a race?
"I think if you gave me a 25-yard head start and we're going 30 yards, I think I can take him, if it's downhill," he said.
Johnson knows that Reynolds' presence will be good for the young athletes in the program.
"Oh, 11 years, if you hold the world record in anything - hot dogs, running, whatever it may be - that's credibility and it brings some enthusiasm and some zest to your program," Johnson said. "And that's awesome. That's something that you hope for. And that's a credit to Coach Tressel. We're trying to stay on the cutting edge."
When Mike Cochran took the head strength job at Marshall, Tressel wasn't sure how he was going to fill the position.
"It was interesting," Tressel said last week. "When Mike Cochran was considering becoming the head guy at Marshall, we talked back and forth. I asked him, 'What would you do if you were us? Tell me how we can get better.'
"Mike said, 'I think I wouldn't bring in a third strength guy. I'd bring in a speed and explosion guy.' I took that to the staff. I said, 'Mike's got an idea. What do you think about it?' We were getting ready to hit the road recruiting and I told our guys to think about it.
"It made some sense to me if we could find the right guy. The first week the guys were out recruiting, they were up in Akron. They stopped by where the guys were working out and they saw Butch working guys out. Jim Bollman came back and said, 'Hey, I think I've got your guy.' I said, 'Do you think he would have any interest?'"
Tressel called Reynolds, who was more than happy to accept the position.
"He loves Ohio State," Tressel said. "I knew a little bit
about him. We had to find out if he graduated. I know how that goes, you run
international track for 20 years. We called him up and he said, 'Absolutely, (I
graduated) in 1991. Let's discuss it.'
"The last weekend he interviewed, I took him over to the house and I learned more about his background. He trained (Olympic champion) Michael Johnson."
Reynolds set the world record in the 400-yard dash in 1988 with a time of 0:43.29. He competed in the 1988, '92 and '96 Olympics, winning a gold medal in the 1,600 relay and a silver medal in the 400-meter dash in 1988.
From 1996 to 1998, he was an assistant track coach for the Buckeyes. He was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.