It’s Not Just a Color
Marotti Employing Unique Motivational Techniques
By Brandon Castel
great story by brandon on the buckeyes strength coach
Ohio State players are very clear on how to feel about maize and blue, but suddenly those are not the most dreaded colors in Columbus.
At least not until Mickey Marotti is done with his winter conditioning program.
Marotti has been called a master motivator, but how does someone motivate a group of players who are already used to being motivated? That was the task charged to Ohio State’s new strength and conditioning coordinator when he began winter workouts a week early.
His solution was simple: do what comes natural.
“We just try to focus on basic principles like accountability, discipline, effort, competitiveness and performance that we look at every day,” Marotti told a group of reporters in Columbus on Wednesday.
Competition and performance are at the core of everything Marotti does during the off-season. They are interchangeable in Urban Meyer’s program and if there is not a winner and a loser then players are just wasting their time.
“If a guy doesn’t run all the way through a drill or a cone, that gets evaluated,” Marotti said.
“We have ‘charters’ all over, team managers. So, if two guys are doing the pro shuttle, there’s going to be a winner and a loser. If a guy does the drill wrong, maybe has his wrong hand down, he gets a penalty.”
It is one thing to lose because of penalty, but players know they better not get caught dogging it or Marotti will bust out the dreaded “ lavender shirt” as a reminder for everyone at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
“You don’t want to wear those shirts at all,” senior linebacker Etienne Sabino said Wednesday.
They also serve as a reminder that there is a new sheriff in town. That isn’t a criticism of the former sheriff, but Meyer and Marotti and their own, unique, ways of doing things. That includes the lavender shirt for ‘loafing’ during a workout.
“If I win and I know I’m beating you by like 10 yards and I point at you or I go slow through the line – even though I still won – that’s called a ‘loaf,’ said Marotti, who worked with Meyer at Notre Dame and Florida.
“Any deceleration before the finish line and guys get a loaf. If they get two or more loafs, they have to wear a lavender shirt.”
Meyer’s system is all about training the mind and the body. It is about four to six seconds of relentless effort, not just in the first quarter, but on the final snap of overtime. In their minds, a loaf is nothing more than weakness, which is what Marotti is trying to yank out of his players, even if it has to come by force.
“Everybody in the building sees who out there is wearing the lavender shirt,” Marotti said of the shame that comes with getting caught loafing more than once.
“And also, it’s charted in the weight room. All the loafs are up there and guys have to do certain things depending on how many loafs they get. As a team, we can’t have that.”
The impact of Marotti’s program has been palpable around the workout facility, at least for Sabino, who said his body fat is down and he already he feels faster than he did a year ago.
“Speaking for the team, I think we’ve all seen great changes in our bodies,” said Sabino, who is now weighing in at 235 pounds.
“We’re just really pushing ourselves and trying to get the best out of each other each and every day.”
Marotti is taking notice. He remembers day one when he and Meyer were first getting a look at these players during conditioning back in January. He can barely even compare it to what he sees today.
“It’s not even close,” he said.
“You expect that. It’s something new and all of a sudden a month later, they understand who we are, what we’re about, what we’re trying to accomplish. It was very evident from day one that they knew my expectations and my staff’s expectations and I know they knew Coach Meyer’s expectations. Once you know what is asked of you, you just do it. We push them hard.”
As he expected, it was a rough start. Not everyone wanted to be a part of it, but as players started to buy in, Marotti saw a group of guys who wanted to embrace the idea of getting better and pushing themselves to the limits—both physically and mentally—of what they thought possible.
“I think obviously there’s a time period just to get adapted to what you’re doing, what we’re asking them to do,” Marotti said.
“The body adapts. They’ve been doing a great job. They have a great attitude. That’s all I look for. When you hear that door creak open and they walk through there, there can’t be any bad demeanor because our program is a high energy program.”
Meyer wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s why he made sure Marotti was with him, but the task is far from over.
“We’ve been excited about their effort and their enthusiasm, and we’re not there yet – not even close,” Marotti said.
“You just keep on going.”
Rangers slugger Hamilton undergoing counseling
NEW YORK (AP) -- Josh Hamilton is undergoing counseling individually and with his wife in the aftermath of his alcohol relapse, and the Texas Rangers slugger said he is "doing things right a day at a time."
In an exclusive interview Wednesday with Pastor James Robinson on Glenn Beck's live streaming video network, Hamilton said he knows his addiction is a serious issue.
The interview came just more than two weeks after Hamilton had several drinks during dinner in Dallas on Jan. 30 and continued drinking later that night. It was the second known relapse with alcohol in the past three years for the recovering drug addict.
"We're taking this as, obviously it's a serious issue," Hamilton said. "I had a slip-up in '09 and moving past that, it was, OK, I'm fine. OK, it was just one night, everything's over and we didn't really move back towards well, what caused some slip-up?
"So this time, it's not just, 'OK, it happened, we'll move past it and maybe it won't happen again,'" he said. "We want to find out why it continues to happen."
Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, said he feels shame about his mistakes, but is willing to admit them.
The outfielder, who relies strongly on his Christian faith, said he is digging deeper and letting God take control over past things he has done, and that is helping to free his mind.
"It's going to be a process," he said. "I'm learning from my mistakes. The work I've been doing isn't a fix-all at this moment. It's a learning process. ... It is a spiritual reprogramming."
Hamilton said he's doing well and so is his family.
At one point, Hamilton looked straight into the camera and thanked the people who have continued to pray for him and support him. He said he's not perfect and wants to be a better person, husband and father.
Hamilton was the No. 1 overall draft pick by Tampa Bay in 1999 before getting involved in drugs and alcohol. He missed more than three full seasons in the minor leagues because of several drug suspensions, and didn't make his major league debut until 2007 with Cincinnati.
After being traded to the Rangers, he became one of baseball's best players on a team that has won the last two American League pennants.
Ron Jaworski is out at "Monday Night Football."
ESPN announced Wednesday that the analyst would be removed from the network's signature broadcast beginning in August. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will operate as a two-man booth.
Jaworski will remain at the network and appear on various programs, including "Countdown" and "Matchup."
The longtime ESPN analyst had been in the MNF booth since 2007, replacing Joe Theismann after one season. He was supposed to add a respected football voice to a broadcast that included Tony Kornheiser. He dutifully played that role for two years until Jon Gruden was brought in as Kornheiser's replacement. It was all downhill from there.
When Jaworski appears on other ESPN shows, he's an insightful football mind who breaks down X's and O's with clarity. His "NFL Matchup" program is the best on television for real football analysis. There was none of that on "Monday Night Football." Jaworski stuck to talking points, spoke in cliches and offered little, if any, breakdown of what was happening on the field. It was like a college professor being forced to teach third grade and not having any idea how to relate to his new surroundings. The addition of Gruden exacerbated the problem. Suddenly there were two football guys in the booth and they seemed to be in competition for who could say the most without saying anything at all.
This paragraph, from a December article in The New Yorker about Gruden, was a perfect microcosm of Jaws' time in the booth:
When it was Jaworski's turn, he issued a stern proclamation. "Call me crazy, but I'm really excited for Tyler Palko tonight," he said, and a roomful of skeptical sports producers erupted in laughter. Jaworski had given himself the thankless task of building up the Chiefs, praising them as much as he could without putting his own credibility at risk. Perhaps viewers would buy into the idea, however far-fetched, that Palko would emerge as the night's underdog hero. Later that day, as Jaworski was making a cup of coffee in the ESPN bus, he tried the line again. "Call me crazy, but I'm excited about Tyler Palko," he said. He exhaled. "I've got to sell this," he said to himself.
He became a carnival barker, not a football analyst. That may have been his own doing or based on the suggestions of ESPN producers. Regardless, the mentality to promote the game rather than describe it, which seems to be shared by Tirico and Gruden, is a big reason why "Monday Night Football" has become borderline unwatchable in recent years. It's not a football game anymore; it's a promotional vehicle. (That's only going to get worse when Gruden is given a bigger stage.)
Jaws was out of place. His football knowledge didn't change, it was the forum he had in which to disseminate it.
ESPN played up Jaworski's new role in a press release, but it's hard to consider this anything but a demotion. He goes from being in the booth for the network's marquee telecast to fighting for airtime on "Sunday NFL Countdown" with Cris Carter.
"I am grateful for having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of working on 'Monday Night Football' the past five seasons with Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden and so many other talented people behind the scenes who make the show so great, and I look forward to bringing my passion and knowledge of the game to more fans in more places than ever before on any and all football topics," Jaworski said in the statement.
The last two-man booth on "Monday Night Football" was Al Michaels and John Madden. ESPN has used three-man teams since acquiring rights to the telecast in 2006.