Buckeyes enter the field in "The Hive"
Photo by Jim Davidson
Have you ever wondered what this scene (left) is really all about?
This takes place before every OSU football game. The OSU football team exits their locker room arm-in-arm, and in a very controlled fashion that somehow seems out of place on a football field, proceeds to the field where they go through their warmup routine.
The "formation" (if that's the right term for it) is called The Hive, and it's something that OSU Head Coach Jim Tressel brought with him from Youngstown State and has become a part of the tradition at OSU. What does the team get out of it?
"I have no idea," said defensive backs coach Paul Haynes when asked that question this week.
"I don't know. It's just what they do," Haynes said, who then did a little better after some reflection that was accompanied by some scowls from the reporter asking about the tradition.
"It's a traditional thing. The thing about is we all join hands and we link together, so we're going to take the field together and we're going to play together as a team," said Haines.
Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was not much more informative, but incredibly consistent with Haynes when asked what the Hive was all about.
"I have no idea" said Bollman repeating verbatim Haynes response though Haynes had left the room long before Bollman was asked the question.
Like Haynes, Bollman came up with something after some reflection.
"I just think that some kind of team unity deal that we draw a little energy from each other," said Bollman.
The tradition is so old with Tressel-coached teams that Bollman, who was with Tressel at Youngstown State, was at a loss to explain how it got started.
"You're asking me things I haven't thought about for years," said Bollman.
The roots of The Hive may be lost, but it still has an impact on players. Current OSU defensive back Donald Washington doesn't know how it got started either, but he does know that it means something to him.
"It's just something that we do," said Washington.
"There's really no secrets to it. We come out and we link arms just to show and symbolize our brotherhood, that everybody is together, everything we're doing we're all doing to the same beat, we're doing everything together.
"There's not one guy over here doing his own thing, we're all linked together and it shows we're going to play together," said Washington.
The Hive is interesting. It's also just stage one, because after warm ups the team goes back into the locker room. When they come back they are always close to a frenzy and run to the middle of the field where they form a circle and unceremoniously pummel one another. That too is a long-standing Tressel tradition, though Bollman is not quite sure that it is everyone's cup of tea.
Buckeyes whoop it up at midfield before the game.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"When they get out there in the middle I'm sure there are certain guys on the team that really enjoy that and are enthused about that, and other guys are probably saying 'Lets go warm up.'
"They seem to enjoy it. They look like some of them are enjoying it," said Bollman.
Whether everyone enjoys it or not, it's the way things are done, and like everything else surrounding a Jim Tressel-coached team, it doesn't happen by accident. Bollman said there is actually a member of the OSU coaching staff who is assigned the task of making sure the proper frenzy is reached before the pummeling begins at midfield before the game. And like The Hive tradition, Bollman has no idea how the circle tradition got started.
"It's always been part of our deal that we're going to take the field that way. Out there at midfield once we get out there, how that started I can't exactly remember," said Bollman.
"Out strength coach is always in charge of it. How our strength coach got the role of being in charge, I don't know, but he was in charge of it at Youngstown," Bollman said.
Eric Lichter gets the Buckeyes pumped up as they enter the field.
Photo by Jim Davidson
These days at Ohio State it is Head Strength Coach Eric Lichter and Speed Coach Butch Reynolds who are in charge of whipping the Buckeyes into a lather before the games. It's a role that suits Lichter well.
"He helps get us pumped up because that's just the kind of guy that he is," said Washington.
"He's like that throughout the week in the weight room. To be the head strength coach you kind of have to have that mentality because you can't go in the weight room and just kind of be dead and going through the motions because you aren't going to allow yourself to get better," Washington said.
Washington says that the circle in the middle of the field before the game is one of his favorite moments of the day, not so much for its mayhem, but for what it symbolizes to him and his teammates as game time draws near.
"There's nothing like getting ready to play, especially when it's a home game and everybody is for you.
"It's a great feeling because everybody who's in that circle is going to lay everything they have on the line for the next man in that circle," Washington said.