COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The gridiron dreams began Friday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex. Players took the field on a tight schedule.
Whistles, grunting, cheering and coaching were heard across the entire outdoor fields. The media lined the north end zone trying to get the perfect video or photo that could describe the number five ranked Buckeyes.
Anyone who follows the team passionately has their favorite season, player, or coach memorabilia proudly displayed in their home. Some have walls of fame and others have a full-blown “man caves” decked out in Scarlet & Gray. But they probably cannot top what was on display Friday morning.
Around every twist and turn, there is a phrase, theme, and color scheme prominently displayed to be admired. From a game room that would make Dave and Buster’s proud, to a cafe that would humble franchise restaurants. The football Buckeyes have any comfort or amenity thriving players could want.
“It’s sweet because we used to be in this little shack over here,” said player Austin Mack with an enormous smile. “It’s exciting that it’s done. It’s a good place to eat at.”
The player’s area used to be the size of a half basketball court. Now they utilize a 13,000 square foot area with state of the art equipment, 1,800 square foot cardio fitness room, a kitchen that is set-up more like a Boston Market.
“It just shows that Ohio State has the best facilities,” Mack said with a stone-cold face as if trying to close a deal with the next recruiting class.
“The new addition is huge for us,” first-year head coach Ryan Day said during a media briefing Friday morning. “It’s really catapulting us in recruiting.”
Coach day explained that the $7.8 million east wing renovation helps create an environment to help the players feel comfortable and at home. After all, his players come from around the country and he wants them to be at ease.
“The guys can spend all day here, play the arcade, shoot baskets, they can recover on the cryo,” Day referenced the cryotherapy chamber. “We want them to feel like this is their home.”
The new digs will help players focus on being students and athletes, and there is one other focus quietly counting down in the corridors of the building. Players and coaches will tell you, “Every game matters,” but you will find a couple of walls emphasizing a particular game day in November, with a clock counting down to the moment kickoff is scheduled.
Yes, it is the game against Michigan. Typically, this game determines whether the OSU fans can watch their Buckeyes play in the national playoffs or another bowl game.
“Every time we walk up the stairs to go eat, we always look to the left and see the clock down,” said player Malik Harrison. “It just brings back memories or just excites you for that game.”
Harrison, Mack, and Day have nearly four months before the final regular-season game. Before that, the preseason coaches poll fifth-ranked Buckeyes have to play 11 other games beginning Aug. 31 at the Horse Shoe.