OHIO UNIVERSITY FOOTBALL
Ohio University is no longer a doormat. Their turn around to winning football has been most remarkable.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1998
In 1994, the Bobcats were the 107th ranked Division I-A team and were winless. A change was needed. Jim Grobe was hired as the new football coach.
Grobe came from the Air Force Academy where he was the Falcon's linebacker coach. He has also been a head coach at Liberty High School in Bedford, Virginia (1976-79). Grobe's strategy to create a foundation for winning was simple yet profound. “The first thing we did was develop a good work ethic among the players,” Grobe explained.
The second strategy was to improve the level of talent. “Recruiting became a primary focus,” remembered Grobe. Thirdly, was to improve the strength and conditioning. “We became demanding in the weight room,” said Grobe. “Our strength program has really taken off under the supervision of Ethan Reeve. I honestly think that there is no better strength coach in the nation. Our players have made improvement by leaps and bounds under his training program and the coaching staff can see the improvement in the players' strength, speed and agility. Coach Reeve motivates them to work hard and learn technique. He has a solid overall program. Our goal is not to make our players the biggest in the league, we just want them to be the strongest, and there is no reason we can't do that.
“We want our players to have an attack attitude every game day, no matter who we play. We need to play hard regardless of the weather, opponent or any other factor. We are striving to be the most physical, hardest-playing team in the conference.”
Things happened fast. Jim Grobe was the 1996 MAC Coach of the Year. The Bobcats finished the 1997 season with an 8-3 record. The best since 1968. “We're having fun,” beamed Grobe. We are even building a new 8,000-square foot weight room.
Ethan Reeve stated, “what we try to do is maximize the potential of each and every football player. We look at what is going to make a bigger, stronger, faster football player. We expect a total commitment from every player when he steps in the weight room. We don't just play with the weights, we attack them. If they're not attacking the weight, if they're not making the bar move quickly, if they're not exploding or using the right amount of weight, we tell them.
“Every football player must make a commitment to get stronger, to get more powerful and to get faster. If they're not doing that, then we let them know that they need to step it up. We expect everyone to work hard and concentrate on their technique, but the main thing we want them to do is to attack the weights.”
Standout defensive end, Jeremy Beutler remarked with excitement, “It's hard to believe that just four seasons ago I was a freshman and our football team was not even close to thinking about a MAC championship. We were only concerned with getting home for winter break to Mom's cooking after the season we had. Well, four years later here we are. A team that is inspired, energized and only has its eyes set on one thing for the 1998 season, a Mid-American Conference Championship. We show this enthusiasm and energy every time we take the practice field or, when we can't quite get that last rep, we just think ‘MAC champs' to kick in that extra bit of strength that is needed.”
Coach Grobe praised, “Our strength is our team. Our strength is not in any one individual. Our players are sacrificing individuality for team from an effort standpoint, I couldn't ask more from them.”
The attraction is not all football. Ohio University has over 27,000 students representing every state and approximately 100 countries. There is also a student/professor ratio of 20 to 1. The students really enjoy their $26 million Ping Student Recreation Center. It is a 168,000-square foot facility and about 3,000 people use the center daily. Jeremy enthused, “It's an awesome place to hang out, especially in the winter. It gets you away from home and gives you many different ways to have fun.”
Coach Reeve has his players do Olympic style lifts, full-body strength lifts, sandbag lifting, pulling sleds, sledge hammers, speed drills, agility drills, tumbling and plyometrics. “We must prepare our players,” says Reeve, “to win in Division I football and eliminate serious potential injuries or at least cut down on the severity of these injuries. What we try to do is give them all the pieces to the puzzle.”
During the season, the Bobcats have four short workouts per week. The Core Lifts (Power Clean, Bench, Box Shrugs, Hang Cleans, Back and Front Squat and Deadlift with Shrug) are divided throughout the week between heavy and lighter workouts with varying percentages. Three auxiliaries are done twice a week and a unique warm-up is done every day. The warm-up consists of back raises and a Clean Combo. The Clean Combo consists of three sets of Clean Pulls, Power Cleans, Hang Cleans and Jerks.
The off-season is, of course, much more extensive but is also a four day a week schedule. Coach Reeve's program is all business and he likes the eight hours per week NCAA off-season training limit. “Four hours can be spent in the weight room, while the other four can be spent on speed, agility, flexibility, muscle tone, and development of a better athlete,” says Reeve. “The rest of the time they can devote to their studies or social life. I don't want to take up too much of their time.”
Jeremy Beutler is a 6-3 260-pound senior defensive end. “I believe the Power Clean is by far the most important lift for football,” says Jeremy. “My vertical jump is now 36-inches. I started out at 28 inches. In football you need explosive power.
“When I go for a max or a big rep series, I get mean, get mad and think positive. I feed off the energy of my teammates. They cheer me on. It's the same as a football game. I enjoy the off-season and getting bigger and stronger. But the one thing I like about our football team is that we're like a very close family, a close family that strives to get the best out of each other.”
Jeremy is a Spanish and business major. He wants to work in international business in Latin America and has already studied for three months in Mexico.
Tom Carder is a 6-1 215-pound inside linebacker who is a three-year starter. Tom got involved in Powerlifting at Avon Lake High School. Weighing only 205 he Benched 320, Squatted 550 and Dead Lifted 570 pounds before becoming a Bobcat. He now Power Cleans 340 from the floor and says Tom, “Cleans are my favorite lift.
“I think, however, Squats are the most important for football because of their contribution to speed, flexibility and being injury free. Squats will have those benefits if you go low like we do.
“I believe visualization is very important in being successful. See yourself performing perfectly first and then act on that. As far as steroids, we just don't do them. They are wrong.”
Tom is majoring in sport science and wants to be either a football or strength coach.
John Kraus is a junior defensive end who is 6-2 270-pounds and went to high school in Virginia. John began lifting in the 9th grade and worked on his Power Clean form with just 75 pounds and now he can do easy sets with 340 pounds.
“The Power Clean is the most important lift for football,” stated John. “It duplicates my football moves on tackling and rolling my hips forward.
“I believe hard work is the key to being successful. No doubt about it. The harder you work at something, the more you get out of it.
“To psych up for a lift or max, I look at the mirror. Virginia Tech turned me down. They said I was too small. So I think about that to prove them wrong.
“I would never do steroids. They will mess you up in the long run a lot more than they will help.”
John is a Forensic Chemistry Major with a 3.1 GPA. “I will work for a crime lab,” said John about his future. “I will be testifying on drugs and alcohol. It's not something you want to do. I have friend