Football team managers have one of the most demanding jobs on the team … but they wouldn’t trade the experiences for anything in the world.  

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The history of the Ohio State football team is filled with tradition, stuffed with passion and brimming with excellence. Behind that tradition, passion and excellence lies a deep and dedicated support staff of coaches, athletic trainers, strength coaches and academic counselors. One group that is also integral to team success is the team managers, who help with practice, game day and numerous other team functions.

A normal workday begins by reporting to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center about an hour before practice. After setting up practice gear and playing the occasional inter-manager pick-up game, practice begins. Each position on the team is assigned a manager, who assists in drills and keeps practice running smoothly. Once practice wraps up, it takes about a half hour to clean up the practice field and put away the equipment.

Football game days are an entirely unique experience for these young men.

The managers report for duty six hours before kickoff, which for a noon game means a 5 a.m. wakeup call. Following a traditional stop at McDonald’s for breakfast, the group moves the coaches’ cars from the Blackwell hotel to the parking lot at the stadium. The senior managers walk with the team into St. John Arena for the Skull Session by the OSU Marching band, before making the trip over to the locker room.

The next few hours before kickoff involve collecting scouting reports of the opposing team back from the players, preparing game balls and setting up pre-game drills. Once the game starts, most managers work as ball boys, some track player time, while others help with relaying play calls to the offense. Win or lose, they join the team in front of the south stands for Carmen Ohio and then head home.

Practice and games, however, are just a small part of the substantial time commitment required by the managers. Recruiting functions, camps, clinics and any other football events that need staffed can lead to upwards of 40 hours of work per week.

For the managers, the job is an opportunity to stay involved in the sport they love.

“Most of us played football in high school,” John Gray, the head manager said. “This is just a great way to be part of the team and stay active in football. It can be a demanding job, but I don’t think there is a guy here who would rather be doing anything else.”

The reward for the dedication and commitment is substantial. In addition to traveling with the team to away and bowl games, managers eat with the team, sleep in the team hotel, wear official team gear and have full access to the team weight room and player lounge.  Each win over Michigan earns them gold pants and Big Ten titles garner them championship rings.

“The best aspect of being a manager is being a part of something special here at Ohio State,” Matt Esselstein, who is entering his third year as manager, said. “It’s an experience that I’ll carry with me the rest of my life.”

~ Andrew Schraedly,