Land of 10/file photo
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer and his staff have had their hands full in December with the new early signing period.

Ohio State football: How Buckeyes are balancing recruiting and Cotton Bowl preparations

Austin Ward

All week long, our Land of 10 reporters following the Buckeyes will address pressing questions on the minds of the Ohio State fan base with our new daily feature. To ask Austin Ward a question, follow along on Twitter and suggest a topic right here. Check back Monday through Friday as we dive into the Ohio State Question of the Day. Go here to see all of our previous answers.

Maybe it’s something everybody should have seen coming, but the early signing period has turned into an even wilder, crazier time of the year than imagined. And all the attention on recruiting visits, offers, commitments and the coaching carousel has only served to diminish the bowl season even more than the College Football Playoff has — which is no small feat. I think it’s also a disservice to the current players on the roster in many ways, both the veterans gearing up for a big-time battle and the youngsters looking to benefit from the extra reps December typically provides.

In terms of setup for the month, the change to the practice schedule for Ohio State probably hasn’t been that dramatic. There always is going to be an acclimation period early where the Buckeyes focus primarily on conditioning with the strength staff, which is followed by some basic training-camp-type work on individual skills. Only as the game draws closer will the staff really narrow the focus to the game plan and start taking back some of the practice reps to get the regulars ready for USC and the Cotton Bowl. But those early stages require some mixing and matching with the coaches who aren’t on the road on a given day, combined with a lot more heavy lifting from the graduate assistants who have to make sure the workouts keep running smoothly.

greg schiano-ohio state-buckeyes
Since the season ended, few coaches have been busier than Greg Schiano. (Land of 10/file photo)

Make no mistake: This is not ideal. The coaches are all reasonably well-compensated for their work, but they are being run ragged while being pulled in two directions — preparing for USC and the crucial building for the future on the road. Urban Meyer has assistants who aren’t afraid of working, and he’s built up a sizable support staff at Ohio State that can help keep the machine moving when he’s not around. But when this debate about the early signing period picks up again, this is probably not going to be something he endorses — particularly when he starts thinking about doing it at the same time as participating in the playoff.

The good news for the Buckeyes? The busy season is about to die down on Wednesday, and that famous laser focus can get set on the Trojans.

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