The Training Table

Some of us are so interested in the Buckeyes that we'd even want to know what they had for dinner. Coincidentally, that's what Jerry Rudzinski talks about today -- the training table. Jerry talks about why he enjoyed the training table and why it is something that is overlooked.

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 done.

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 afternoons.

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 the case. 

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 guarantee it. 

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.


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