"Students in first, staff and faculty line up over here - cellphones off and put away!"
No, in my years here at OSU - the one year from '97-98, or the ones starting in Winter 2009 - I have never been in the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex. I could park there with my C permit, but that alone doesn't get you into a secure facility on campus. And, when your department makes millions of dollars for the university, your security concerns are addressed as you wish.
Security was in place for the event, and Buck-ID's were checked at the hallway past the trophy room. This is where it pays to be a part-time student at age 34. The Leo Yassenoff Practice Field was a short walk from there, through a door with a sign, "please...NO CLEATS permitted in the lobby".
Upon entering, we all sat down in the stands set up on the end of the field nearest the door. Basic drills were going on while we all entered, followed by formal warmups a little over ten yards in front of us. (Please note: that means warmups started on the goal line. The stands were literally on the field.) The stands would actually be the relaxing seat of the day. Of particular note here was Derek Burkholder, #88, who is a bit taller and EXTREMELY MORE FLEXIBLE than most of the others in view. When he bends over to touch his toes, he touches the ground with the palms of his hands. While everyone else is struggling to place palms on the ground during squats, he's going for the back of the wrist to make it harder on himself.
After some warmups, five minutes were allocated to 1v1 Scarlet vs. Gray point-of-attack drills. After the first one, the circle of players rooting on the teammates inside blocked any views from the gallery. From there, they went on to position drills; for us, that meant watching defensive line drills, including push forward, shedding, and shifting blockers off. At this point, one noticed the refs coming in for the fun part.
As they lined up for the next part of the drills, cones were laid out on the 20-yard line, and we were beckoned forth.
In addition to the cameras above the 50-yard line and the end of the field opposite the stands (also known as target practice for the kicker), there is a cameraman taking video from the backfield, which, due to us being on the field, was offense scarlet jersey side. Said camera is on a pole, with cables running down to a Sony portable video player at eye level. Duct tape holds the cords in place up top on this wonder of makeshift engineering. It has a black octogonal base at the bottom. This made for an obstructed view a couple of times when the ball was directly in front of me, but, that being my only obstruction and non-permanent, I was not complaining. Sitting down Indian-style for over 100 minutes was at best a minor grumble. Being behind anybody, even with a lot of people sitting down, was cause for grumbling, but, being on the field, it couldn't be helped.
Extra-point tries were done in sets of three, likely to practice dealing with the inevitable 5-yard penalties on an offense. Punts, when called for, would have a rubber flourescent marker in front of the kicker to prevent him getting beat up by offense, as well as a number of personnel - the aforementioned 88 Scarlet included - wearing yellow stockings over their helmets.
Braxton got playtime - all QB units were in black unis, and all but one had a knee brace. Purely precautionary, I imagine, because Braxton was still running the ball on occasion to some success. Also, to some success, the defensive line would get in to tap him for a sack. I noticed two that were simply pocket breakdowns, and one that was an untouched lineman. A couple others I didn't notice.
Passes were thrown to the flat often, with a big battle between #4 C.J. Barnett and whatever WR was lined up against him. Barnett did get one good interception, nearly running it back all the way to us except for a pesky sideline. Run plays included a couple of reverses for big gains that will make Ramzy cry with joy. Defense missed wrapping up a couple of times, but were otherwise solid.
The sideline of course had its own small, select group of visitors; as well as potential recruits, one Daniel "Boom" Herron was easily spotted.
Three injuries of note occurred; one during warmups, and two during play. With no information on specifics (and unable to look up #51 scarlet), I'll leave investigation to more media types. It's still spring, though, so hopefully those can heal well and practice time won't be affected much.
After the hundred minutes of back torture from sitting Indian style, they chose to do some field goal kicking - towards the end with students. The students were happy to oblige the drill with away-team sound, and Urban had them move closer to it...and closer...and all of a sudden we were summoned to make a ring around the kicking units so they could get even closer and really deafen the area. It was about this time that the no-camera part of the practice ended. as a swarm of people held cellphones long buried out over the crowd to get a glimpse of the kicking unit facing duress and aiming for black tape on netting indicating uprights.
Following this, we were ushered back behind the twenty again, though no sitting this time (bless my 34-year-old back, even if it was near impossible for some to see now). Now, the clock was put in two-minute drill mode, with one(!) minute on the clock, timeouts if needed, and a goal to get down the length of the field with NCAA clock rules enforced. One good reverse/possibly broken kickout to the left made at least one of these drills a trivial sneak or two to the endzone; others were harder, with the one big Barnett interception.
After this, the team huddled up at the other end of the field, and Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston - we all call her Dr. J - took a short minute to address the crowd, followed by a football staffer giving us the breakdown for the meet-and-greet; fifteen minutes with whomever, followed by everyone on the fifty-yard line for an event picture. During those minutes, I made sure to walk around and meet one of our walk-on ME's on defense, praise #88 on his flexibility, get 3DS pics of #3 Corey Brown, Braxton Miller, and of course Urban Meyer (yes, we chanted). I also looked around and got pictures of some of the outer area, including a tackling sled in the corner, the radio equipment broadcasting rap during the meet-and-greet, at least one scarlet jersey out of Sylvania, OH (he knows where Delta is!) and the wavy locks next to him of one #78 Andrew Norwell. Autographs were discouraged for the students, though for the small kids and disability visitors, they were gladly granted nevertheless. After the fifteen minutes were up and the photos taken on the fifty (with a required O-H! chant), I left the facility, pausing only to take photos around the trophy room.
The experience was a good one overall. The crowd was managable, even if the rain-plan facility was not made for a viewing public at ground level. I got to hear the coaches' cacaphony of shouting to pump up the players during warmups. I got to see Urban looking very proud at holding this event. I got to see Braxton get knocked down once in black jersey and a quick, barely-noticable upbraiding. Most of all, I got to see the WHAC, and that alone was worth it.