The old way of thinking – that the start of football practice meant the start of hard work toward a college season – never seemed to antiquated as Tuesday night. As the clocked ticked toward midnight under the lights of the team's new Harmon Family Football Practice Park, the Buckeye squad was charged with a unique task – push a van more than seven times around one of the practice fields.
The task concluded the team's strength and conditioning workout known as "Midnight Madness," and linebacker Brian Rolle said the team agreed with that moniker when presented with the chore.
"At first, we were all complaining about it, like, ‘Who wants to push a van at 12 o'clock at night?' " the loquacious senior linebacker said after the team reported Thursday. "But we all took it to have fun. We're going to have fun on the field together, we might as well condition and have fun together."
As for the seven laps, there was a reason the strength staff picked such a number. It seems that adding up the distances between Columbus and Ohio State's road trips to Champaign, Ill., Madison, Wis., Minneapolis and Iowa City yielded a total of close to 2,300 miles.
The distance around a football field seven times – and change, perhaps – turns out to be around 2,300 yards.
So yeah, that'll work.
"It was about all the miles that we travel to the away games, and they calculated it to how many laps it would be around one of the fields," linebacker Ross Homan said. "We had different groups (of five or six) here and there, so we had to push it around the field, which wasn't an easy task."
Easy, no, but as it turns out, it was at the very least entertaining.
"It was one of those nights where it was like, ‘First, man, why do we gotta be here at 10 o'clock?' " Rolle said. "Then it was like, ‘Man, we really got a lot out of tonight.' Everybody had fun. We left with smiles on our faces."
That workout was among the last of what the Buckeye seniors dubbed the hardest summer they've been a part of since coming to OSU. If those questioned are to be believed, the strength and conditioning staff of Eric Lichter put team members through the toughest voluntary workouts they've ever seen.
That sounds like a cliché spouted by every team come every fall camp, but the Buckeyes sure acted like they meant it in 2010.
"I just think some of our runs have evolved from last year," Rolle said. "It was just one of those summers that it was like, ‘Dang, what do we got today?' Last year, it was like you could wake up and don't worry about it and go get it over with, but this year you were worried about what was coming up next because the next day could be harder than the day before."
Moving to the offensive side of the ball, lineman Justin Boren concurred.
"We worked our tails off this summer," he said. "It was definitely the hardest work since I've been here in my three years. It was fun though. They made it fun. They always do a good job of making us work hard and making it fun, too."
Not too many people – short of those who designed the fad workout regimens P90X and Insanity – would find some of the workouts designed by the staff fun, but Boren insisted the workout staff did what it could to spice them up.
"It was just a bunch of competitions, just competing," he said. "That's what everyone loves, to compete. We get out there and do relay races, we get individual teams and compete that way. They always have something different planned."
Boren also agreed that the hard summer might have been especially geared toward making the Buckeyes ready for a championship season, which many have predicted could be in the cards for a squad that has already been picked to win a record-tying sixth straight Big Ten title and will was ranked second in the coaches poll that came out Friday morning.
With that in mind, Rolle put everything in perspective as the OSU players set off on the four-week journey toward the Sept. 2 opener with visiting Marshall.
"If it's hard work, then that means in the end you have to do something great," Rolle said.