Ohio State dives into preseason camp Thursday.
Well, sort of.
The NCAA abolished two-a-day practices this year but still allows teams to have 29 practice sessions before their first game. Coach Urban Meyer, headed into his sixth season, and his staff opted to get creative with how they open preseason camp — and that’s on top of the Buckeyes starting their season a little earlier than most teams, on Thursday, Aug. 31, at Indiana.
“Without (two-a-days), we're going to start early. Practice Thursday, Friday. Give them the weekend off and get going again the following week,” Meyer said.
Most of the Buckeyes are still in summer school, which wraps up with finals through Wednesday. Meyer said the timing is not right for the formal opening of camp.
“We're actually going to do that next Wednesday,” he said. “One of the concerns I know I share, and a lot of my colleagues (do), that without two-a-days you have extended the season. It could be potentially close to five weeks of training camp, which is way too much.”
So with a 6:30 a.m. launch on Thursday, followed by another early session Friday, he is using sleight of label to disguise things.
“We're not officially starting camp this Thursday, it's just a practice,” Meyer said.
As Meyer said earlier this summer, the Buckeyes had a proven approach to preseason camp that already had been limited to five sets of two-a-day practices with none on consecutive days. The NCAA made the move with player safety in mind, but keeping the same number of practices would add about a week to camp. That concerned Meyer.
“I don't want the players to feel like it's a camp yet,” Meyer said of the initial session on Thursday. ”So we won't do that until the following Wednesday.”
Senior center Billy Price can see the logic in that thinking.
“It’s just acclimation period,” Price said of the first couple of practices.
On eliminating two-a-days, Price said he has spoken with trainers and medical personnel, and they pointed out the challenge players always face with the heat at the height of summer, especially for schools in the south and southwest.
The NFL reduced practice sessions a few years ago, “so we are kind of getting little streaks of it down at the NCAA level,” Price said. “Again, though, it’s still practicing. It’s still going to be really hard, and it’s still going to be challenging.”