Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts.
This week’s topic: Which celebrity should Ohio State bring in to run its S&C program?
Ohio State football recently lost two members of its strength and conditioning staff, with Niko Palazeti and Quinn Barham leaving the program to take elevated positions at Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina. This is a common occurrence in the S&C world, as there are only so many Mickey Marotti-level prestige jobs to go around.
But OSU also lost Chris Fenelon after last season, which means they have now watched at least three S&C staffers leave in the past 12(ish) months, all of whom had spent three or more years working under Marotti.
For some, including my man Gene, this means that all the wrong people are leaving Ohio State’s S&C program. He has long been on the “Fire Marotti” bandwagon, so recent developments have presumably left him less than enthused. But in all seriousness, these men and women are beyond critical to any team’s success. Because S&C staffers typically spend more time with athletes than their coaches do, and that relationship goes beyond simply lifting weights together.
S&C assistants are trainers, dieticians, life coaches, mentors, and much more. Palazeti and Barham also played football in the Big Ten, so their experience and ability to relate – specifically to Ryan Day’s team – should not be understated.
However, this could turn out to be a net positive for Buckeye football. OSU dealt with significant injuries throughout the 2022 season, and for whatever reason, could never get guys back to 100 percent. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, TreVeyon Henderson, Michael Hall Jr... The list goes on.
There have also been questions and complaints regarding how players’ bodies are developed and maintained in Columbus, and whether that approach has led to players getting too big, sacrificing speed and/or quickness, and potentially becoming even more prone to injury. Those questions and concerns have little or nothing to do with Palazeti and Barham, but significant staff losses could force Ohio State to re-evaluate its approach and philosophy.
To begin moving forward, Marotti must first fill the open positions on his S&C staff. It takes a village, as they say, and with the offseason being of the utmost importance, there is no option to leave spots vacated. So where does he go? Who does he target? These are questions I found myself asking internally, with no real endgame in mind.
But then it came to me... An idea/question I just had to present to Gene: What if Ohio State could hire anybody to join the S&C staff? We’re talking real human beings, but salary, schedule, possibility of it actually happening — none of that stuff matters.
He (Gene) laughed and asked if I was under the influence of anything in particular, to which I responded: “Not at this time.” This might sound like a silly premise, but the next few S&C hires could very well dictate the future of Buckeye football. So I was deadly serious when coming up with my answer...
I also cheated a little bit, choosing to identify two candidates. But OSU has two open positions, so I don’t really see a problem. These two men are well known within the football community, which adds to their credibility. They also have different training methods, which is just as important (in my opinion) as credibility. Marotti surely wants people from various backgrounds and with different perspectives to have a voice within the Buckeyes’ program, and bringing both of these men in will help accomplish that. Who are they? Let’s get into it.
First, I suggest that Ohio State brings in Dwayne Johnson AKA The Rock. A former college and USFL football player himself, The Rock knows what it takes to compete at this level. He also knows what it takes to compete on the world’s biggest stage(s), in front of millions (and millions!) of fans. The Buckeyes do that every week, so like, how much more relatable could The Rock possibly be?
From a strength training perspective, this former WWE megastar and current Hollywood movie star brings anything and everything to the table. Literally. Have you seen the man’s personal, traveling gym? I am pretty sure his equipment costs more than The Woody, which means The Rock would be welcome to bring his “iron paradise” to Columbus. And have you seen his physique? The proof is in the pudding. He is absolutely jacked to the gills, even after turning 50 years old. I am sure it is completely natural, and that dedication to training helped turn him into a full-on superhero. Imagine what it could do for the Buckeyes.
But don’t worry about The Rock only whipping these OSU candy asses into big, brawny meatheads. No sir. He knows how to find a perfect balance. Wrestling matches and 12-hour days of shooting movies also take an incredible amount of cardio and endurance – in addition to raw strength and functional power – all of which then needs to be supplemented by a perfect recovery diet. Some of The Rock’s epic cheat meals would be perfect for a postgame celebration dinner, reserved only for winners. You know, really dangle the carrot in front of Ohio State players and coaches.
So what do you think of my first candidate, Gene? Wait... Wait... It doesn’t matter what you think!
As for who will (or should be) joining The Rock on OSU’s S&C staff, look no further than Alex Guerrero. That’s right! This alternative medicine practitioner and co-creator of the TB12 lifestyle is bringing his unorthodox training method and questionable dietary restrictions to Columbus in this wildly warped and made-up scenario I have created. While he might intend to wait until Tom Brady is retired, I think the allure of joining the Buckeye Nation of Domination would be too much to walk away from.
Guerrero’s insistence on pliability could act as a good counterbalance to both Marotti and The Rock preaching 600-pounds bench presses. His diet, while restrictive, would certainly help Ohio State players avoid inflammation. And as for his other qualifications or traits? Well, Brady is going to play until he’s 62 years old. Guerrero has essentially turned him into a White Walker. That’s all I need to see.
There you have it, Gene. Two completely normal, reasonable options for this OSU S&C staff. Good luck topping that! If ya smell-lalala.... what Josh is cookin’.
I wasn’t prepared for Josh to really go all in on this topic when he first suggested it to me, so now I feel as if I also have to pick two candidates for the job. I think my co-host picked two pretty darn good choices, and I like the two-man approach he went with where one guy is more on the strength and bodybuilding side while the other focuses on diet and nutrition — an area I think Ohio State’s current S&C program is greatly lacking.
For my first pick, I wanted to go with someone who has ties to the university. Someone who both understands what it takes to get an athletes body in peak condition while also understanding the competitive nature that comes along with building up players to play a sport — not just getting big for the sake of looking big and lifting heavy weights. I wanted this person to be an accomplished athlete in a sport that focuses on strength and technique. Who better to fill that role than one of the greatest and most successful athletes in the school’s history: Kyle Snyder.
Currently just 27 years old, Snyder became the youngest Olympic and World Champion wrestler in United States history when he took home the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Summer Games. His list of accolades would take up an entire article just to write them all out, but the highlights include: three-time NCAA Champion, three-time Big Ten Champion, U.S Olympic Male Athlete of the Year (2017), two-time Ohio State Male Athlete of the Year — and it goes on and on. When it comes to competitive excellence, Snyder embodies that and then some.
He also understands that strength training must be functioning rather than just for show. All too often it seems these past few years that a handful of players on Ohio State’s roster have gotten bigger in the weight room, but it has not shown improved results on the field. In fact, in many cases it has actually hampered these players, making them slower and taking away from some of their natural abilities that made them highly-touted recruits in the first place. Snyder may not know all the ins and outs of putting together a detailed training program for specific position groups on a football field, but he does understand that working out to be an athlete is different than working out to be a body builder.
To pair with Snyder, I want a proven sports dietician to help Ohio State’s athletes maximize themselves through the help of their diet. For that, I'm looking to the NFL, and specifically Kansas City Chiefs dietician Leslie Bonci.
Bonci has been an NFL dietician for the last 32 years, spending the first 25 years of her career with the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Chiefs in 2015. While it obviously isn’t all because of her procedures and eating techniques, it is worth mentioning that the Chiefs have made the playoffs in every single year of her tenure. In addition to her work in the NFL, she has also worked with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL as well as the Washington Nationals in the MLB, while also functioning as a sports nutritionist for the WNBA. Needless to say, her methods seem to work.
A big part of her diet plan, and a big reason why I think her methods would be perfect for college players especially, is making traditionally unhealthy foods in healthy ways so that athletes can still enjoy the food they are eating. Bonci takes foods like fried chicken and pizza and tweaks them slightly to cut out most of the unhealthy fats and sugars. For example, making chicken in an air fryer to to cut out trans fats and making whole-grain pizza crust that contains ground-up beans. This style of eating also encourages players to eat meals together, which is good for team chemistry and morale as an added benefit.
So thats my big plan. It might not be as flashy as The Rock and Alex Guerrero, but I like the dynamic duo style of S&C that Josh went with. Give me the tremendously successful athlete mixed with the professional football dietician to run the Buckeyes’ strength and condition program and let’s see how many fewer soft tissue injuries Ohio State winds up with under their tutelage.