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Ohio State helps football players build brands

Real Life Wednesdays are great for Buckeye alums and recruits.

Ohio State Football

“While Ohio State players cannot make money directly off of being a part of this brand, Urban Meyer has made it a focus to make sure his players are ready for life after football, whenever that comes, with his Real Life Wednesday program. The Buckeyes are at it again, and this time the focus is on building the players’ brands while they are in the limelight.”

-Patrick Murphy, 247 Sports

For years, when discussing Ohio State players who thrived in Columbus, but probably would never make it longterm in the NFL, my dad would say something to the effect of, “Well, at least he knows he can have an insurance agency anywhere in Ohio, if he wants.”

His point is not that some shady insurance company would sneak the former Buckeye an agency, under the table, in exchange for a pair of gold pants, but instead, that the power of being a former Buckeye has benefits that extend far beyond the end of one’s playing career.

Clearly, Urban Meyer and his staff recognize that fact as well. In the video above— which Ohio State posted on their social media today— Ohio State Football Assistant Director, Creative Media and Branding Sam Silverman talks to players about things that they can do to make the most of the platform that being an Ohio State football player provides.

A part of the now-legendary Real Life Wednesdays, Brand U is another thing that OSU is doing to differentiate itself from other programs, and Raider DB Gareon Conley is speaks to the power of the message in the video.

Conley Island was a reference from fans hashtaging on Twitter,” he said. “I felt like I could take that to another level and build my brand. With Ohio State, and the help of Stamp (Ryan Stamper) and Sammy Silverman..., has helped me take it to another level.”

While the focus on branding has helped players after they’ve left OSU, it’s had an impact on getting players to come to Columbus in the first place. Four-star 2018 athlete Tyreke Johnson, who enrolled at Ohio State in January, says in the video that these types of extras proved to him that the Buckeye coaching staff cares about players far more than for just what they can do on the field.

So, whether this helps a player develop a brand for future marketing opportunities when he makes it to the league, or just helps someone elevate his viewability in hopes of landing a used car dealership in the future, good for Meyer and company for doing whatever possible to prepare their players for what’s next.

Now can we talk to the NCAA about letting players financially capitalize on their brands while they’re actually in school, please?

“Labeled a neutral-site game, this game in AT&T Stadium comes in the third week of the season. With Ohio State having an inexperienced quarterback and a still-developing offensive line featuring new starters at left tackle and center, this will mark the first big challenge for the Buckeyes, against a TCU team coming off an 11-3 season.”

-Chip Minnich, Athlon Sports & Life

I don’t know that I would have the games in the exact same order that Minnich does in ranking the toughest games of Ohio State’s 2018 schedule, but his breakdown does prove a pretty important point; the Buckeyes can likely afford to lose a game in September, and still have plenty of time to rebound before their playoff fate is decided.

Minnich has OSU’s “neutral-site” game against the TCU Horned Frogs as the toughest game of the season, and their trip to Happy Valley as their third most difficult game. Both of those contests happen in September. Thanks to a quirk in the calendar, the matchup against the Nittany Lions on Sept. 29 is actually the fifth game of the season, but more than two months before the final College Playoff Rankings are revealed.

So, should Meyer’s team stumble against TCU or PSU, they will have plenty of time to rehabilitate their record and image before things get serious. We’ve known all along that whomever was under center would be new for the Buckeyes, but with yesterday’s news that Joe Burrow will transfer following his graduation last week, the offense’s success falls squarely to Dwayne Haskins. And, despite how well he did in relief last year, being the man at Ohio State carries a lot more pressure than being a man at Ohio State.

So, if the new quarterback has some inconsistencies in his first month as a starter that lead to an L, he should have more than enough time to get acclimated to his new position in time for the stretch run.

Three of the four games that the Buckeyes have in November should present enough of an opportunity for OSU to pad its resume to make up for an early-season loss. Now, those games against Nebraska, Michigan State, and Michigan are anything but gimmies, but with a first-year starting quarterback, I would much rather have the toughest games either early or late, than smack-dab in the middle.

“Ohio State coach Hayes ended his career at the 1978 Gator Bowl by punching a Clemson linebacker in the face, chest, or maybe the neck. It’s hard to tell, really, which is one reason I want Twitter around, because the replays would be endless, someone would photoshop Thanos’ head onto Hayes in a matter of seconds, and the jokes would stretch well into the next week.”

-Spencer Hall, SBNation

Following the BCS National Championship Game losses to Florida and LSU, I refused to turn on ESPN TV or Radio for a week, in fear of having the defeats rubbed in my face. After the 31-0 loss to Clemson in the 2016 College Football Playoff, I stayed off of social media for what felt like a month. So, if Spencer Hall is going to imagine a world in which Buckeye fans are forced to relive (and re-litigate) Woody Hayes’ worst moment as a college football coach on social media, I say, “No thank you.”

We’ve seen the good that social media can do in college football (btw, the spot was good), but for the OSU faithful, Woody Hayes is a legend, an icon, a Mount Rushmore figure. I don’t know if my Scarlet and Gray soul could take seeing him endlessly mocked on social media. Furthermore, I don’t know that I could take Buckeye Nation “Well, actuallying” everybody who mocked him on social media.

The memes alone would likely drive me to drink, and that’s before the endless #threads about how this is a microcosm for the toxic nature of ultra-competitive sports. So, instead of participating in Spencer’s silly little thought exercise, I am going to just be grateful that social media wasn’t around during the Cooper era.