Each of Ohio State’s four senior starters along the offensive line last year – Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell – have graduated (along with nine other seniors from 2013) with a degree from The Ohio State University. Each is competing to make an NFL team’s roster, so their job hunting is on hold … for now.
But more than 97 percent of college football players won’t make it in the NFL, so the time and effort spent in college preparing for life after football is not only necessary and important, but at Ohio State it is a mandatory part of the process of being an Ohio State football player.
Friday night at the Huntington Club, located inside of Ohio Stadium, Ohio State’s football players capped six months of preparation for life after football by attending the second football-sponsored job fair. Every football player was in attendance; most wearing a coat and tie; the upperclassmen sporting a resume encased in a professional black binder; and with instructions to introduce themselves and discuss career paths and the best next steps needed to become a candidate for employment.
“This is a very important event for our student-athletes,” event organizer and football administrator Ryan Stamper said. “Our guys put significant time and effort into being ready to meet with representatives from these companies. The coaches do, too. And they take great pride in being able to offer support for their players in front of so many businesses and organizations.”
Preparing for this day
Wednesday afternoons in the winter and spring are a time for guest speakers – CEOs, professional athletes, senior leaders from athletics, national media and former Buckeyes – to address the team in a life experiences forum initiated by coach Urban Meyer called “Real Life Wednesdays.” No less than three of the speakers the past two years, including Ohio State Vice President and Director of Athletics Gene Smith and Harley Davidson CEO Keith Wandell, addressed the team about the job interview process.
Other speakers this year have addressed topics such as wealth management (lawyer Luke Fedlam), starting and building a successful business (Sam Covelli, Panera Bread CEO/owner) and the broadcast industry (former Buckeye/ESPN commentator Robert Smith).
CBS analyst and basketball legend Clark Kellogg has addressed family and responsibility, and then said this about Ohio State’s “real life” program:
“Giving student-athletes as much ‘real life’ exposure and interaction is essential and invaluable for their development and growth. Ohio State’s Real Life Wednesdays and job fair are home run programs that benefit and serve the student-athlete.”
“Would you hire me?”
One key question players are asked to consider about themselves during “Real Life Wednesdays” and within other team meetings, such as the leadership seminars the team has been going through, is “would you hire me?”
The goal behind the question is to get the Buckeye players thinking now about not just being a “pro” with their efforts on the playing fields, film room, etc., but also by taking care of business off the field and by being as fine a student and person as possible, and by getting a degree. Pro football careers don’t last long and there has to be a “Plan B,” the players are advised.
“Even if you do get there, the NFL stands for ‘not for long,’ so you’ve got to have a backup plan,” third-year safety Tyvis Powell said recently to a reporter with the Columbus Dispatch.
And that’s precisely why 20 Buckeyes spent the May academic session at Ohio State building relationships and gaining experience by interning at various businesses around the city and state. Among the Buckeye interns this summer:
§ Zoology major Taylor Decker spent the month at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium;
§ Sport industry major Jeff Green and communications major Cam Williams were among a handful of players who worked for IMG College, the leading collegiate multimedia, marketing and licensing/brand management company; and
§ Industrial engineering major Joe Burger, family resource management major Joshua Perry and marketing major Russell Doup interned at the professional firms T.P. Mechanical, Continental Realty and Berger Financial, respectively.
Stats that matter
Two statistics – one provided by Fedlam, the local sports and entertainment attorney, and one from the NFL Players Association website – drive home the importance of Ohio State’s efforts to prepare its players for life after football:
§ “78 percent of NFL players go broke, or suffer severe financial difficulties, within two years of leaving the league,” Fedlam told the team in May; and
§ Players with a college degree “earn 20 to 30 percent more [in the NFL] than players who don’t have degrees,” and they also “have a career that lasts about 50 percent longer,” according to the NFLPA web site.
And so the Friday night job fair at Ohio Stadium was about as important an event as any game the Ohio State players will play in Ohio Stadium on any given Saturday. Representatives from more than 50 companies across all sectors, including hospitality, law enforcement, broadcasting, medical sales, athletic administration, finance and business, were meeting with and asking questions of the Buckeye student-athletes.
And the Buckeyes were doing their best to present their best and impress the best. All the while wondering or thinking or hoping: “would they hire me?”
Considering the preparation, planning, training and experiences the Buckeyes are going through each year: chances are: yes!