When Ohio State shut down spring football practice earlier this month because of the coronavirus pandemic, it left players to scatter across 5,000 miles.
Many returned to their homes, as far west as Hawaii and as far east as New York City.
The predicament leaves the Buckeyes to navigate uncharted waters, as do the other programs that have halted organized team activities in the wake of a public health crisis.
In a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, Ohio State coach Ryan Day outlined one of the most pressing challenges for a team spread across the country: staying in shape.
"Their lives are so structured when they’re here," Day said. "Now we have to make sure we do the best we can remotely to give them that structure as well."
Their plan involves arranging individualized workouts.
Day said he holds two conference calls a week with his staff in which they discuss each player on the roster, going over their academic progress and training regimens.
Day acknowledged that players are in "unique situations," living at home with their families with limited or no access to a weight room.
"There are not a lot of people with full gyms in their house," he said.
If they have one, it’s likely dwarfed by the one inside their football complex at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Along with position coaches, Mickey Marotti and his strength and conditioning staff have provided players with resistance bands and videos of workouts for body-weight exercises.
"I think the accountability is at an all-time high in terms of making sure these guys are doing what they need to do," Day said. "The older guys know what they’re supposed to do. The younger guys need a little more guidance. But like everyone says, character is shown when nobody is looking, and this is the ultimate test of that."
It is unclear when the Buckeyes might return to their normal routine.
Their remaining 12 spring practices are suspended through at least April 6, and athletic facilities on campus remain closed.
Uncertainty hovers over the rest of their offseason calendar
For the time being, Day and his assistant coaches are left to check in on players from afar through text and video messaging, aiming to maintain their national championship aspirations for next season.
"There are different things that we’re doing just in terms of communication and accountability," Day said. "We have messages with our players that if we have to check on you or you say you’re doing something and you’re really not, then we’re not much of a team anyways. We have guidelines. We set them out. We talked to them about things that are there on a daily basis. Certainly they could not do it. But we’d have an awful team if that’s the case.
"So it’s just constant communication within the position coaches and the units to make sure they are talking about it and doing a great job. I think our families’ parents have been excellent. They are with them every day and creating dialogue about how workouts went that day."
Along with maintaining players’ physical conditioning, Day said they had taken steps to ensure that injured players could also recover and return to form.
Ohio State’s Jameson Crane Sports Medicine Institute, at Ackerman Road and Fred Taylor Drive, remained open to players who were staying in central Ohio, either in off-campus apartments or university dormitories. Those living in on-campus housing had filed for waivers through a school policy, a spokesman said.
The athletic training staff also made arrangements for players to find rehabilitation centers in other parts of the country.
Other than players who were recovering from injuries, Day said they remained healthy. No one in the program "that we know of," Day said, has tested positive for COVID-19.
As players went through workout routines and continued with classes online, coaches were left to communicate with prospective recruits.
They picked up four commits in a little more than a week. And they’ve also begun reviewing game film for next season’s opponents.