People sometimes ask me what I miss about the old playing
days. I miss the camaraderie in the
locker room. I miss the feeling
after winning a big game. I miss
the satisfaction of finishing winter conditioning or 3-a-days.
But there's one other thing I need to mention, and it is
very close to my heart. Quite
simply, I MISS THE FOOD.
I think training table spoils all Division I college
athletes. After fending for
yourself in the dorms, cafeterias, vending areas, hot dog stands, and grocery
stores for breakfast and lunch, you could always count on hitting training table
for dinner. Now many of the
picky-eaters complained training table was too hot, too cold, too healthy, too
fattening, or whatever. Shame on
them. It was a chance to eat, eat, and eat some more.
It was buffet-style, and you didn't need to leave a tip when you were
With all the physical activity a football player goes
through, they had better be eating right. I
am no nutritionist, but I do know you need your meats, veggies, fruits, carbs,
etc. to perform at a high level. The
variety is all there at training table. If you eat right, you will play better on Saturday
The program provides some guidance on how to eat.
Trainers, Dr. Lombardo, your strength coaches, or even an on-site
nutritionist can provide a great menu for a high level athlete.
But many of the players will block that advice out.
In fact, you would be surprised how bad the eating habits are for some of
the greatest players that have gone through the program in recent years.
I am not talking about overweight linemen either.
I am talking about guys that look like they just stepped out of "Muscle
Magazine" and can run a 4.4. One
would think a proper diet is a no-brainer for many of these guys…not always
OSU does a great job of providing quality food at its
training table. This is not junk
food that they are trying to save money on.
It is good stuff that is cooked by good people.
But don't think it is fat-free. Don't
think it is straight out of the local GNC.
Don't think it is what body builders are eating.
That just doesn't work with the OSU players.
They flat out will not eat things that don't taste good.
Maybe a guy here or a guy there will like it, but if you try to go "too
healthy," the McDonald's drive-thru on the way home will happen.
That late night pizza will happen. I
You can try and make a "Fat Man's Table" or a
"Special Diet Table" for those guys that need to lose pounds, but don't
starve them. They have car keys and
can always find a 99-cent special somewhere on the way home.
Give them regular food and don't fight it. And besides, for every guy the coaches want to lose weight,
there is another guy that needs to gain it.
These players are young adults. They
can make decisions for themselves. Educate
them, guide them, but don't try to starve them.
Coaches have been doing this long enough to know that
eating habits aren't always consistent anyway.
Some of the biggest eaters I have ever seen were not the linemen (all
though no one could eat like Rob Murphy). I
remember seeing guys eat Big Macs right before they hit the field for some
gassers. The large majority of
players are not that educated on the protein drinks, energy bars, and
supplements. Sure some are, but I
always laugh when people stereotype OSU players as taking a bunch of
performance-enhancing foods and products. In
reality, these players are usually clueless on those topics, and lift and run
the way they do because of their genes. These guys are the cream-of-the-crop coming out of high
school, and they often reach that body and talent level through god-given
ability. Whether we like that or
not, it is the truth.
In my mind, the key to training table is the
team-building. No films, no
chalkboards, no distractions. It is
just you and your teammates relaxing for a meal before you hit the books at
night. The players don't talk
about an upcoming game or the current depth chart.
They just talk about life away from football, and always share a few
laughs. Training table is crucial
in getting to know your buddies.
Now that I am cooking my own meals and washing my own dishes, I realize what I had at OSU. Don't take it for granted guys. It is not as hot, cold, healthy, fattening as you may think. It is free, it is plentiful, and it comes with good company.