Buckeye Blackout Lifted After Scrimmage

Jim Tressel and the Ohio State football team's seniors came up with a new way of keeping the team focused during the hardest week of the season. All personal technology and links to the outside world were confiscated, leaving the Buckeyes to focus solely on football and team bonding. The results, the team said, were positive.

Stuck in a hotel for a week without cell phones, computers, televisions or any other technological link to the outside world, members of the Ohio State football team proved the old adage that boys will be boys.

With no way to amuse themselves during a coach- and senior-imposed "Hell Week" during the middle of football camp, the Buckeyes at first resorted to some good old-fashioned horseplay.

"There was probably a little bit more damage to the hotel than they wanted because guys had nothing else to do but pull pranks on each other," senior defensive tackle Todd Denlinger said. "But it was all in good fun. It was a lot of fun just being able to talk to a lot of the guys and become closer together."

Denlinger wouldn't discuss any of the shenanigans – "We'll keep those to the team," he said with a laugh – but the jovial nature of his comments underscored how exactly the Buckeyes spent the time disconnected from the outside world.

Unable to Twitter, use Facebook, text message or watch ESPN, the Buckeyes were forced to spend more time hanging out with one another. Players who hadn't had the chance to talk much with all of the other 104 players on the roster were able to sit down and chat.

"When you're on the bus here and there and guys are texting, guys are listening to their iPods, you're not really communicating too much with your teammates," Denlinger said. "But when all of that is taken away from you, you're definitely talking more 1-on-1 with guys, you're laughing, you're joking. Good times."

The situation could have had the opposite effect, though. When the move was announced, there certainly seemed to be some grumbling – both private and public, as a few players sent out Twitter missives griping about the lockdown.

The idea for the blackout was from a book and suggested by head coach Jim Tressel to the team's seniors, who seemed to agree fairly happily. The book was "The Lone Survivor," which is one Navy SEAL's description of a battle in Afghanistan that claimed everyone else on his crew.

It also digs deep into the "Hell Week" the sailors must go through in their SEAL training. While the Buckeyes didn't have to do anything like the SEALs notoriously difficult physical challenges, they did have to deal with the football equivalent: seemingly endless two-a-days.

"It was strictly football, but we got after it a lot," senior cornerback Andre Amos said. "We scrimmaged almost every day. It's definitely been the most scrimmaging that I've had in a camp since I've been here. I feel like we got after it a lot."

The fruits of the labor were on display Saturday afternoon at the team's jersey scrimmage, as some players – like defensive tackle John Simon and O-lineman Corey Linsley – showed how they had moved up the depth chart during the week of constant reps and live situations.

"I thought all in all we had a good week," Tressel said. "Our guys were glued in and focused in and we did a lot of things throughout the course of the week and worked on a lot of different concepts and so forth."

Along the way, the team was without any distractions that might have prevented them from being 100 percent physically when those grueling practices came around.

"It was just to make sure we got the most out of the week," right guard Jim Cordle said. "This past week is the hardest of the season, and just getting that rest for two-a-days and obviously the jersey scrimmage and having that team bonding going into the season is pretty cool. It sets us apart from some other teams."

Cordle added that the enforced restrictions weren't enacted because the team was having any trouble coming together, but simply, it was a way to encourage rest and focus as well as push bonding to the next level. When all was said and done, the experiment seemed to be a success.

"I think we did accomplish something," tight end Jake Ballard said. "We got a lot of people interacting with everyone on the team. Maybe they wouldn't have had the opportunity to in the past. It really got guys talking to different people."

But don't be fooled. Now that the week is over – the Buckeyes were given 24 hours off after the end of the jersey scrimmage – they are quite happy to have the return of their personal technology. Tweets have been sent and televisions have been turned on, just as the Buckeyes predicted as they left the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon.

"It was a pretty cool experiment," Cordle said before developing a slight grin. "But I'm kind of glad it's over so I can go home and watch TV."


Buckeye Sports Top Stories