When the Cheering Stops: How Ohio State Prepares Its Players for Life After Football

By Patrick Maks on June 22, 2014 at 7:30a

For Michael Bennett, the not-so-distant future includes two months of grueling summer workouts, a brutal training camp in August, his senior year of college and final hurrah playing football for Urban Meyer and Ohio State.

Bennett’s a key cog on a talented defensive line that figures to anchor the Buckeyes and their Big Ten and national title hopes.

He’ll almost certainly be a captain, Phil Steele thinks he’ll be an All-American and Mel Kiper, among many, thinks he’ll be a top NFL Draft prospect next spring.

Talk about living the dream.

But what about after all that?

What happens after football?

“People always ask me,” Bennett said, “and I’m not sure yet.”

So Meyer and his staff are readying Bennett and his teammates for life “after the cheering stops” or also known as the real world, which, for any college graduate, is more or less a terrifying passage into adulthood. 

"Ohio State’s such a powerful place. If you do right, you should get a job."– Urban Meyer

They call it “Real Life Wednesdays,” a series of speakers and lessons curated with the intention of preparing players for the workforce and life after big-time college football.

“We live a surreal life right now being a college athlete, being on scholarship,” Joel Hale, a soon-to-be senior guard, said.

“We don’t know what real life is and that’s going to be the biggest transition, that’s the hardest transition for after football: what happens.”

It’s a process that varies from player to player. But in general, less than two percent of college football players make it to the NFL, according to an NCAA study in 2012. 

Which is also to say Ohio State, and other schools with powerful football programs like Alabama, USC, and Notre Dame, are an anomaly. 411 Buckeyes have been selected in the NFL Draft all time, 51 have been plucked in the last decade and six got taken in last month’s draft. 

But trust making it to the NFL is hard. Really hard.

Making a living out of professional football might be even harder since the average career lasts 3.3 years, according to the NFL Players Association. 

“I plan on being in the NFL next year,” Bennett said. “But you never really know how it’s gonna work out.”

But you can prepare for if and/or when it doesn’t.

“It’s the last chance for my plan B for after football’s over for me,” Hale said.

And really, that’s the point of Real Life Wednesdays and Friday’s cumulative job fair featuring more than 50 companies including Nike, IMG, State Farm, NetJets, Cardinal Health and the Cleveland Browns. It’s Plan B, C and D.

“I love this stuff. I spend more than half my time on this right now. I love it — especially when my daughter went to school and I found at how hard it is to get a job,” Meyer said. 

“everything is laid out in front of you, everything is lobbed up and all you gotta do is slam dunk.” – Joel Hale

“Ohio State’s such a powerful place. If you do right, you should get a job. I’m not talking about the 2.0 guy. I’m talking about the guy that really works and does right. People want to hire him. So it’s our job to get in front of it.”  

Of course, for it to work as intended, players have to take ownership of the process too.

Meyer and company can only do so much. 

“If you don’t succeed through the Ohio State football program, then you’re the one messing up,” Hale said.

“Because everything is laid out in front of you, everything is lobbed up and all you gotta do is slam dunk.”  


Comments Show All Comments

BroJim's picture

You know what, we should pay them too. . . Oh wait.

I season my simple food with hunger

+3 HS
theopulas's picture

yes.....we should......!!!!!


-1 HS
bigtenspeed's picture

I'm glad they do this stuff. Sounds like the mature players real get into it. Hopefully their example trickles down to the younger players as well! Regardless, another example of an opportunity for thes guys to succeed. Glad Urban and staff are making this a point. Keep your nose clean and you can sell insurance or do radio ads. Columbus takes care of you.

Findog5's picture

Good companies at the job fair. One I didn't know was IGM?

Raleigh Buckeye

unknownmusketeer's picture

International Granite and Marble, Inc.

hetuck's picture

That's because it's IMG - a sports management company. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+3 HS
Patrick Maks's picture

Yup. Corrected. Thank you. 

Shangheyed's picture

In Sports Marketing IMG is the largest in the world they run sports throughout th globe managing golf courses, tournaments and players across all sports in all countries... its HQ was in Cleveland.  IMG was started by a famous entrepeneur named Mark McCormick who wrote the famous Biz Book "Everything They Didn't Teach You at Harvard Business School(or forgot to teach you I forget haha).... indeed a good read, like a modern day How to win Friends and Influence People.  IMG is a a very strong company, and a leader in its industry.

DenBuck's picture

This is huge...it's these kinds of "behind the scenes" activities that make OSU such a special place. 

Buckeye For Life

buckeyedude's picture

So only 2% or less make it in the NFL and even if you do your average life in the NFL is 3.3 years? Damn straight they better have a backup plan. Those numbers are sure to get a starry-eyed player thinking.



+1 HS
Horvath22's picture

Patrick, do you know what % of OSU players make it to the NFL?

Patrick Maks's picture

Honestly, I don't know but I can try and find out.

Toilrt Paper's picture

The math can be done with info in this article. First NFL draft was in 1936, 78 years(not sure if WWII created a gap). 411 Ohio State players drafted all time = 5.3 per year. Last 10 years,51 drafted = 5 per year. 

+1 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

It is astonishing to me how so many universities do so little by way of career development, and not just for athletes. I believe that Urban's commitment to this is fairly unique, equipping players for life.

+2 HS
chemicalwaste's picture

At least the football program does it. I'm not entirely sold that the university in general has as much commitment to finding graduates jobs. I won't have any problem because my work pays for me to go to schooldo there won't be much of a search, but other students have no clue both what work actually entails, let alone where they are going to work and how that company conducts is business. There are job fairs fairly often, but I don't think this type of effort is made to emphasize the importance of all of this.

Good on ya, Urban.

+2 HS
DC-town's picture

Hopefully the younger guys hear what Hale is saying: OSU is a dream opportunity, they lay it out there as long as you aren't a knucklehead, you're set up well for the future

'Piss excellence' -RB

+3 HS
Tater_Schroeder's picture

“If you don’t succeed through the Ohio State football program, then you’re the one messing up,” Hale said.

The fact that this statement is coming from a player is a testament to the program. A coach can claim this all he wants, but it's the players that truly understand and appreciate the impact. It's students like Joel Hale that make me root for the team, and not just the scarlet and gray.


+3 HS