Ohio State spring practice may have only started a week ago, but the differences in coaching styles can already be seen. Urban Meyer is wasting no time in trying to change the offseason culture within the football program.
It all started with the offseason conditioning program back in January. The coaching staff decided to kick off the program a week earlier in order to prepare the players for an entirely different execution in spring practice. The workouts often started at five in the morning for five days a week, and were nothing short of intense.
The players have definitely seen the intensity of the condition program as well. Junior defensive lineman John Simon stated, according to buckeyextra.com, "I think the workouts have been tough for everyone. The whole workout, there's no let up. A lot of people are getting in shape, myself included. Everyone's improving."
Then once spring practice began, Meyer's "reward program" went into effect. Every drill, every scrimmage and every movement basically has a winner and a loser. Winners get rewarded with sport drinks, less running and better meals. If you lose, though, it is water from the hose, sprints after practice and less appetizing meals for those players.
To put it simply, everything is a competition.
No player is guaranteed a starting spot as every position is to be re-evaluated after each practice. This is something the Buckeyes are not used to seeing this early in the year. In years past, players had a decent idea who the starters and backups would be at a majority of the positions. In 2012, every position is determined from day one of practice, not what has been done in prior years.
This is a prime opportunity to start over at every position and get the best players on the field in order to get Ohio State back to the top-level program that is accustomed to being. This competitive environment will make every player strive to give it his best effort no matter if it is practice or a game.
A new era in Ohio State football has arrived, and it will not only be evident during the regular season. This new era will have an impact in everything from recruiting, practice, conditioning, to actual games.
The best thing so far, though, has been that the players have seem to bought into the new system from the beginning. Meyer has said, via ESPN, "I don't see defiant attitudes. They're very eager, really good kids."
So yes, things may be quite different in March and April than in years past. However, what seems different now will only become normalcy as time progresses. The competitive environment Meyer is creating can only have positive effects to the program as a whole.
This environment that Meyer is bringing to Ohio State is the only one that he has known, and it is a winning environment.