St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Buckeyes React to Mickey Marotti's Misanthropy

By Eric Seger on February 19, 2016 at 9:00a

Mickey Marotti doesn't like calling it a massacre, but with how Ohio State football players react to the strength sensei's Valentine's Day workout, it sure makes it seem like what happened Friday morning at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was part of a slaughter.

"It's the St. Valentine's Day, St. Valentine's Day workout," Marotti said Wednesday. "All love, little hearts and remember the little candles and stuff like that?"

Consumers share varying opinions on Valentine's Day candy, but the Buckeyes—some of them for the first time as true freshmen—endured the annual winter workout designed to break down and crush the souls of Urban Meyer's next football team.

What exactly makes this workout so terrible?

"It’s early in the morning, 6 a.m., they won’t let you in the weight room and we’ll have to stand in the locker room and the strength coaches will decorate the whole hallway going down to the weight room," senior captain and center Pat Elflein said.

An assistant strength coach might roam the hallways and welcome players into the weight room with a chainsaw—yes, a chainsaw—while wearing a mask akin to the one from the Freddy v. Jason movies. Assistant strength coach Anthony Schlegel did that last year.

"Obviously, without the chain on it," Elflein said.

Sound a little too intense? Not for Marotti. Nothing is too intense for him.

The workout is one of the most grueling ones Marotti puts together, complete with a vast array of vigorous exercises. One segment is called a "finisher," designed to completely exhaust all who oppose them.

A finisher could be running on a self-propelled treadmill with resistance held around your waist for around 5-6 seconds, switching with someone, then hopping on again. Thirty punches to a punching bag await next before swapping out with a teammate, then coming back and doing it all over again.

Normally finishers take place at the end of the workout, but not during Valentine's Day. Those happen right in the middle after a set of squats, deadlifts or bench press. Then you go to the next station, before coming back to do a finisher once more at the end.

"That finisher is supposed to blow you out completely," Elflein said. "Now you're getting blown out completely in the middle of the workout and you gotta do lunges now and you're getting blown out again.

"It's really hard."

Elflein said the roast makes you feel like you're can do nothing for the rest of the day. The staff changes the signage in the weight room, too, another cruel act meant to celebrate the end of a week of winter training.

"They’ll put, ‘We love you, we love the squat, we love deadlifts’ and they’ll put like rose petals everywhere, but they’ll just be in there beating you down and it’s nuts but they make it fun," Elflein said.

It is all part of Marotti's plan to build bodies—especially the young ones—in the only way he knows how.

"These guys don’t know what’s about to hit them," Elflein said of the freshmen. "It’ll be a little different for them, but they’re all treated the same. They have to learn to grind through the tough parts because, like I said, it translates over to the field. They have to know how to push themselves when their body is telling them no, their mind has to say yes and they have to go and go and go."

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