If you ask any college football coach right now, they will tell you that the great is being separated from the good.
Players are on their own, and in many cases, very far from their respective coaches. But work is still being done — or at least it’s being done by the teams with the discipline to make it happen.
Workouts are voluntary right now, though in a typical year when players are on campus they may seem mandatory. Now extricated from their campuses, those teams that have the discipline and accountability to continue working as if everything was normal will be ahead of the teams that can’t.
And when it’s time to return to the facilities, those teams that kept working at a high level will be able to hit the ground running at a faster pace than those who didn’t.
For Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti, he expects the Buckeyes to be one of those teams that will be ready when they return.
“I think if you look at our roster, we have a lot of guys that have played a lot of football. And I think the team from last year and the leadership that we had, just kind of carried over,” Marotti said.
“Coach Day calls it a test. It’s a test every day of who we are. I think it’s a test of our program’s culture. Of our strength and conditioning program’s culture. I think it’s a test of what our team is and how accountable they are to each other. I look at it from a little different aspect. I look at it as an opportunity for growth, because anytime there’s some adversity that hits your life or hits your world, it’s an opportunity for growth.”
This is an opportunity like no other the players and coaches have experienced. So while it is completely unfamiliar to everyone, it also puts every program back on equal footing. The programs who can find their footing the best will be far ahead of those who couldn’t.
When Marotti looks at the team as a whole, he sees the kind of leadership and experience that can handle the test that has been put in front of them.
These are players who have been through coaching changes, both at the top and at their own respective positions. They have already dealt with adversity and come through it. This is an adversity unlike any they’ve ever seen before, but the way through it is always the same.
“I feel pretty good about the three linebackers that are leading that group,” Marotti said, singling out one group as an example. “You’ve got Justin Hilliard and Pete Werner and Tuf Borland, they’ve been around. They’ve been around a long time, so I’m hoping that when they get in their meetings and their linebacker meetings that those guys are really being vocal and making sure guys are doing what they’re supposed to do, so when we come back we’re in pretty good shape.
“So, if you look at our positions. We have some really good leadership there. Some guys that have played and hopefully they’re relaying those messages of ‘you better be doing all the things you’ve got to do’ so that when we get back, we’re ready to roll.”