Team settles into spacious, lovely and spectacular digs at the Hilton Anatole
COLUMBUS, Ohio – This. Is. Really. Cool! I mean really cool! The Ohio State players arrived at their headquarters for the next four days – the Hilton Anatole – in advance of their College Football Playoff National Championship game vs. No. 2 Oregon focused on the task ahead of them but in terrific spirits.
And why not?
After flying charter to Dallas Fort Worth on big boy – a United 747 that featured an entertainment system at every seat with music, games, movies and charging stations, etc. – to this first ever College Football Playoff title game, the Buckeyes and their coaches and staff enjoyed dinner in a festive ballroom.
The food was great – salads and pastas and burgers and pizza and ice creams with all the flavorful sauces, berries and sweet crunchies one would want – but the highlight was the autograph session. Every player, coach and staffer at dinner received a white College Football Playoff football and a sharpie and everyone commenced to getting the autographs they wanted. It was a really neat touch to a fine first evening at the first college playoff title game.
Following dinner, the players retired to their own hospitality suite which was as good as any hospitality suite anywhere. Ever. Consider …
- Snacks of granola, candy and refreshments were stacked in neat piles everywhere;
- At least a half-dozen “living rooms” were set up with big screen HD TVs, tables and white leather sofas and recliners for the players relax in;
- Numerous caricature “drawers” were feverishly at work drawing the likeness of any and all Buckeyes;
- There were pool tables, ping pong tables and foosball tables in one area and a carpeted basketball court in another;
- The games area also included giant Jenga blocks, shuffleboard tables and areas to play dominoes and cards; and
- There was an arcade area.
The players enjoyed their new surroundings four a couple hours before retiring for the evening around 10:30 CST.
Saturday the Buckeyes took part in another Super Bowl style media day at the Dallas Convention Center. For an hour, the entire team and coaching staff was available for interviews and discussions and photos. Click on the links above to enjoy a photo album and the sights and sounds from the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game media day. Some thoughts:
Michael Bennett on what it will take to beat Oregon: “The biggest thing is getting lined up. No matter what the situation, you get lined up and you get the call and you put your hand in the ground. Against Alabama, they kind of took their time and had a lot more opportunities to scheme against them or gather yourself and get ready for the next play. While with Oregon, whether you are ready or not, you need to focus on the next play and put your hand in the ground.”
Joey Bosa on how long it took to shift concentration from the big semifinal win to the championship: “Obviously, it’s really exciting to accomplish something like that as a team, and it took all of about four hours to get over the win, because we’re not on a mission to win the Sugar Bowl, we’re on a mission to win the National Championship.”
Ezekiel Elliott regarding if the national championship game seems surreal: “I don’t really even think it’s sunk in yet. It’s only our second day here and we got in last night at 6. I was thinking about it earlier that it doesn’t really feel like we play in a couple of days. It will sink in pretty soon.”
Cardale Jones on the strangest or craziest moment you’ve had since taking over the role of starting QB: “Just not being able to walk anywhere and go out in public without someone recognizing me. Someone wanting to take a picture or get an autograph or something like that. I don’t mind that, but it’s still unreal right now. You really want my autograph? A picture with me?”
Jones on what stands out about Oregon: “What really stands out is that they don’t get as much credit as they deserve. When you hear about Oregon – you hear about the offense, you hear about the Heisman Trophy winner. You think about their tempo. Their offense is motivated by their defense, because their defense is out there stopping people. The defense is doing enough to get the offense the ball back and put up points.”
Today, Tonight and Tomorrow
The Buckeyes practiced just short of two hours at gigantic and marvelous AT&T Stadium. This was a typical game week “Thursday” practice for the team. Devin Smith, feeling ill in the morning and absent from media day, was with the team at practice and he did work out.
Tonight the players will enjoy a team meal at 6 p.m. at the Anatole and will then have the rest of the evening free. Dinner tonight will feature a comedy club act or acts. The player’s hospitality lounge will be open following dinner.
Tomorrow is “best Friday’s in football” for the team. Morning will consist of brunch starting at 10 a.m., massages and additional R&R. Following meetings, the team will hold a brief walk-through at AT&T Stadium at 2:45 p.m. The team will have dinner at 5:30 before its typical Friday night routine of watching movies or sports on television before lights out.