John Hoover

John E. Hoover: Come along on a virtual tour of Ohio State’s fabulous football facilities

John E. Hoover: Come along on a virtual tour of Ohio State’s fabulous football facilities
tOSU1

A statue of Woody Hayes immortalizes the coach and greets visitors outside Ohio State’s athletic complex bearing his name. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Eight national championship trophies, seven Heisman Trophies and every bowl trophy the Buckeyes have won, open and free to the public. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Eight national championship trophies, seven Heisman Trophies and every bowl trophy the Buckeyes have won, open and free to the public. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

The beginning of a long corridor that takes recruits through the majesty of Ohio State football. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

The beginning of a long corridor that takes recruits through the majesty of Ohio State football. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Football-shaped chairs and mannequins bearing the latest in Buckeye gameday fashion. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Football-shaped chairs and mannequins bearing the latest in Buckeye gameday fashion. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Instead of acting like it's just another game, Ohio State embraces the significance of its biggest rivalry, Michigan. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Instead of acting like it’s just another game, Ohio State embraces the significance of its biggest rivalry. Just under 79 days until the Michigan game. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

It's a corporate logo. It's one big commercial on a wall. But this Nike display sure wows the recruits. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

It’s a corporate logo. It’s one big commercial on a wall. But this Nike display sure wows the recruits. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

The Buckeyes team auditorium, where meetings take place before practice, after workouts or any time that's not gameday (Ohio Stadium is actually across campus). (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

The Buckeyes team auditorium, where meetings take place before practice, after workouts or any time that’s not gameday (Ohio Stadium is actually across campus). (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Urban Meyer's office. It's as plus as it looks, and it features lots of Woody Hayes stuff, championship memorabilia and photos of the coach's family. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Urban Meyer’s office. It’s as plus as it looks, and it features lots of Woody Hayes stuff, championship memorabilia and photos of the coach’s family. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

On the far side of the players' locker room is a stunning yet soothing water wall. This is just plain cool. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

On the far side of the players’ locker room is a stunning yet soothing water wall. This is just plain cool. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

An equipment manager tends to the locker room ahead of Saturday's game versus Tulsa. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

An equipment manager tends to the locker room ahead of Saturday’s game versus Tulsa. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

A wet room, with underwater treadmill, hot and cold tubs and a recovery chamber filled with so many Epsom salts players actually fall asleep while floating. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

A wet room, with underwater treadmill, hot and cold tubs and a recovery chamber filled with so many Epsom salts players actually fall asleep while floating. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

A tribute to Urban Meyer's first team, which went 12-0 despite NCAA and Big Ten sanctions that eliminated them from championship contention or a bowl game. Still, Meyer told them their performance and their sacrifice would forever hold a place of honor. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

A tribute to Urban Meyer’s first team, which went 12-0 despite NCAA and Big Ten sanctions that eliminated them from championship contention or a bowl game. Still, Meyer told them their performance and their sacrifice would forever hold a place of honor. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Players see this important reminder every time they walk out of the facility. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

Players see this important reminder every time they walk out of the facility. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

One of a handful of permanent observation structures positioned around the Buckeyes' three outdoor practice fields. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

One of a handful of permanent observation structures positioned around the Buckeyes’ three outdoor practice fields. (PHOTO: John E. Hoover)

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The sun beats down, blindingly bright but not uncomfortably hot.

From the edge of one of Ohio State’s three football practice fields, the names roll out of history like familiar books tumbling off a shelf.

Over there to the right is Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, housing soccer and track and further immortalizing an American hero and cultural icon. Across the way is the Jack Nicklaus Museum, a tribute to mankind’s greatest golfer. Behind you is the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex, honoring one of college football’s true lions. And a bit off in the distance is the OSU Alumni House, where Archie Griffin, 40-odd years later still the game’s only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, was president for 12 years.

“The names,” said associate director for communications Jerry Emig, “it’s like a Mount Rushmore.”

If Ohio State University is a crown among Central Ohio, then the school’s stunning athletic facilities are the crown jewels.

This place is brilliant. Dazzling. More than 13,000 square feet of modern architectural excellence and proud football heritage.

Overlooking the state-of-the-art strength training room is a state-of-the-art dining facility. Down the stairs s a state-of-the-art locker room … well, you get the idea.

A recent $19.5 million upgrade to a facility originally dedicated in 1987 makes coach Urban Meyer’s job a whole lot easier. What promising young recruit wouldn’t want to spend four years in such a palace?

When Meyer finishes his radio call-in show, he flits around the dining room greeting each guest, shaking each hand, worried about his upcoming opponent’s offense—Tulsa, which comes to town Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff, is a sister offense to Baylor, Meyer aptly summarizes—but not worried about his team’s facilities.

This is the essence of college football’s arms race.

For the public, the highlight is the glass-building trophy room that houses the Buckeyes’ eight national championship trophies (two of those are disputed) and seven Heisman Trophies, as well as every bowl trophy the program has ever won. There are plenty of other displays that would remind Oklahomans of a Barry Switzer Center or perhaps a more football-oriented Heritage Hall. Another dynamic element of this enormous trophy case is a small theater that plays hype videos and a thundering, almost ear-splitting audio soundtrack on a loop. It puts fans in the gameday mood, to be sure.

For players, coaches and especially recruits, however, the best parts are behind closed doors.

The knock-your-socks-off element is a long corridor in which recruits are blown away by helmet-shaped chairs and a wall-sized Nike display and video monitors and a tribute to OSU’s rivalry with That Team Up North (that would be Michigan to non-Ohioans), among other things. It’s a roughly hundred-yard walk through a glorious past polished with a decidedly modern shine.

Without a doubt, the coolest part is an ancient chalkboard purportedly unearthed from a forgotten closet in the old ROTC building and containing the ramblings — football and otherwise — of one Woody Hayes, including references to “borrowers, spys & traito(rs), dictators” and some lost point about Walter Johnson, Red Grange, 4 Horsemen and Cy Young. If authentic, it’s the college football equivalent of cave drawings: the images or words are crystal clear, but their meaning is buried in mystery.

The guts of the operation are just as swanky. The weight room is spacious and efficient. The hot and cold tub, underwater treadmill and recovery chamber so filled with Epsom salts that players actually fall asleep while they’re floating weightless sit just outside a massive athletic training room. There are murals around every corner depicting Ohio State’s superiority (real or perceived) to all but the upper one percent of college football.

It’s the kind of holistic facility Oklahoma completed in 2010 before tearing everything out and beginning again with something even grander, something that will be covered with construction dust for at least the next six months, something that ultimately, along with OU’s stadium renovation and bowling in of the Sooners’ south end zone, costs some $160 million.

It’s the kind of blend of striking structural beauty and ideal functionality that Boone Pickens bought for Oklahoma State, changing the face and future of the OSU program and, truthfully, helping inspire the Sooners’ do-over.

It’s the kind of luxury even the smallest of college football’s small programs aspires to: Tulsa and its 3,473 undergrads (Ohio State has 58,663), complete with its own underwater treadmills and hot and cold tubs and glossy tributes to the program’s legacy shine throughout the Case Athletic Center.

Hey, Ohio State has a statue of Woody Hayes. TU has a statue of Glenn Dobbs.

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

More in John Hoover

John E. Hoover’s Big 12 preview: Without better defense, is Texas Tech Kingsbury’s Last Chance U?

John E. HooverAugust 16, 2017

John E. Hoover: Sooners’ remarkable new facility shows there isn’t much that’s idle at Oklahoma

John E. HooverAugust 14, 2017

John E. Hoover: Here’s why Frank Broyles, a giant of American sport, once invited me to fly in a Cessna

John E. HooverAugust 14, 2017

John E. Hoover’s Big 12 preview: Another title may be within reach for Patterson’s reloaded TCU team

John E. HooverAugust 14, 2017

John E. Hoover’s Big 12 preview: Think Iowa State can’t win? Think again … Joel Lanning did

John E. HooverAugust 12, 2017

The Franchise