Many of us that follow the Buckeyes have competed in organized football at one time or another, and we might be able to say things such as, "When I used to play…we would practice three times a day for four straight weeks." or "Back in the day, there was no such thing as just wearing helmets and shoulder pads…every day was live scrimmaging with full pads." Yes, I can find myself falling into that macho, testosterone thing as well.
All that heat and all that sweating and all that hitting and all that conditioning built character. It made you more of a man. Right?
I never had any renegade coaches that took things out of control. My father was very grounded and used common sense when my brother and I played football back in Dayton. I don't know who it comes from, but the football fraternity seems to always jump on the mindset of "no pain, no gain." Torture and training camp just went together.
Well, the current players feel plenty of pain, but they do it in a smarter way. Two-a-day practices are spread out. You find restrictions on the amount of times a team can be in full pads. Hours do not drag on and on with practice schedules through the week. Today, there are more regulations on the hours allowed. Woody was efficient, but Coach Tressel has no other choice but to be efficient.
I think it is much safer this way. While former players might speak of the three hour scrimmages they had during the spring, I can assure you the linemen they faced weren't the size of Alex Boone. Former players might mention how long camp dragged out in the August heat. That August heat though didn't witness the explosiveness and power of these young defensive backs at OSU in 2006. The size, strength, 40 yard dashes, and vertical jumps are getting better.
What was the toughest era to play football? I will leave that argument for another year because that is how long it would take to debate it. I do know that this is the smartest era we've seen yet.
The sophistication of Coach Lichter's program puts these guys in world-class football shape. They won't win marathons or 10K races, but they will win football games. The computer-aided film study inside Coach Heacock's meeting room teaches tendencies quicker than ever before. The playing surface on the practice field at the Woody Hayes allows crisper, quicker practice sessions with fewer injuries.
I like what the NCAA has done putting a few limitations on practice schedules. 250 lbs. linebackers running into 250 lbs. fullbacks doesn't make sense for six hours each day. Running until players drop doesn't make sense when they really never fell out of shape in the first place because of the year round training commitment. In the end, we still get the product on the field for Saturday afternoons.