Unable To Watch

Ohio State's head coach is unable to watch summer workouts, and that is not because the Buckeyes are unbearable. Rather, summer is a time for the players to undergo workouts under the direction of the strength and conditioning staff in preparation for the upcoming season.

At this moment, Jim Tressel has no idea what is going on with the Ohio State football team.

That is not the result of some gross incompetence on the part of the head football coach, but rather by NCAA decree. As the Buckeyes go through summer conditioning, they find themselves in a part of the calendar where the head coach is not allowed to have any sort of feedback on how his players are progressing.

The same goes for his assistant coaches, as well. As a result, any progress the Buckeyes make during the summer months can be almost solely attributed to the work put in by OSU director of football performance Eric Lichter and his staff members.

"This summer will be interesting because we've got a big group of guys who have played a whole lot of football here who have been through a lot of my workouts, some of my insane workouts," Lichter said. "I'd like to see how they bring along some of the younger ones. "

When Lichter mentions "insane" workouts, he means it. The Buckeyes work out four times a week during the summer, but the toughest day comes on the final day of the workweek: Friday.

With legs already rubbery and arms sore, the Buckeyes are put through a different rigorous drill each Friday until fall camp begins. It's all part of Lichter's goal of helping each player – regardless of status on the team – get the maximum effort from his body.

"Each one offers its own level of insanity," he said. "Your guys have already worked three hard days. They've already had three workouts leading up to that, so their body is nowhere near optimal recovery and optimal performance levels. They're tired, they're sore and they're beat down and then we just beat them over the head with another crazy workout.

"I think it helps us. It certainly helps you over a 12-week season as well. It is truly a grind, the physicality of the Big Ten, of a major college top-five program. You have to go through these trials and tribulations, no question about it."

But when August rolls around, things change in many ways. Not only can the OSU coaches obviously begin overseeing workouts again, but the focus of the strength and conditioning program changes as well.

Whereas the summer is a time designed to physically prepare the guys for the season, the month of August sees practices such as Yoga and massage therapy make their way into the rotation.

The reasoning is simple: with players going full-go at each other during two-a-days, there is little room left in the day for intense strength training. That will then change when the season begins and the Buckeyes enter what Lichter terms a linear period.

Then, OSU will progressively increase the volume of lifts throughout a period of weeks before having an "unloading" week that allows them to recover before beginning another linear period.

It is all just one part of an intense, year-round workout program designed to keep the Buckeyes both strong and peaking at the right time.

"I enjoy hearing guys say, ‘This is insane' and then somehow being alive when it's all over and realizing, ‘You know what? We can do this,' " Lichter said. "I believe like a lot of guys in my profession believe that you've got to train the mind and sometimes tell the mind to shut up and just let your body do the work that it can do.

"The other thing that I enjoy is I enjoy watching the guys who will do it and the guys who will fail and crumble. I enjoy evolution, survival of the fittest. I enjoy watching the true guys who can handle adversity and the ones that can't."

Right now, though, the goal of that program is to not only get the guys ready for fall camp and the upcoming season, but also to help establish team leaders as well.

"When it gets real, it gets real and you can tell the ones you can count on, that you could definitely go in a foxhole with," Lichter said. "Those are the guys that we've got to pull on for leadership and accountability. Those are really the only guys you can depend on. Hopefully you've got a whole group of those guys."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories