Jan. 8, 2007
It is Game Day in the Valley of the Sun. Soon the Buckeyes will depart from the Fairmont Princess Resort in Scottsdale, bound for University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to face Florida in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game.
For the Ohio State equipment staff, that means moving day.
For the sixth time this bowl trip, the equipment staff packed up Ohio State's 45-foot, 18-wheel tractor trailer, which serves as the Buckeyes' method of moving their on-campus home at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center to all road games, both in the regular season and for bowl games.
"It's a big operation," Rob Lachey, Ohio State's equipment manager, said. "No one can do it by themselves. We utilize our entire equipment staff in the athletic department to get it done. And the good thing is that our administration gives us all the help we need to serve the team as best we can, both at home and on the road."
Along with Lachey, football equipment manager Lewis Van Hoose and six other full-time equipment managers in the athletics department, along with eight student assistants, are the work-horses that make the Buckeyes mobile.
Because Ohio State departed early for Phoenix this bowl trip, the team and coaches spent four days at a nearby hotel before they could move into the Princess. The Buckeyes also practiced at a different high school facility, which meant both stops were additional moving days for the equipment staff prior to their check-in day at the Princess Jan. 2.
Finally, the truck's move from Ohio State's practice site at Pinnacle High School to University of Phoenix Stadium Sunday was the last moving day. After the game, the truck, driven by Ken Blair Sr., will be packed again and begin the long drive back to Columbus.
"Kenny does a good job and the players do a good job, too," Lachey, who has been with Ohio State since 1994, said. "And if we leave anything behind or need anything extra, we ship it out here or Nike or Riddell ships it to us."
The process of taking the Buckeyes on the road for a bowl game starts immediately after the Michigan game, Lachey said. All game gear, including helmets, uniforms and shoes were packed by Thanksgiving. About 25 metal bins and hampers, all of which hold 35 bushels, are used to pack up the equipment, which includes video equipment and office supplies for the coaches and support staff.
After Ohio State's final practice in Columbus Dec. 23, the equipment staff loaded up the Buckeyes' practice gear and finished packing the truck, which departed Christmas day for Scottsdale and arrived Dec. 27.
"The key thing is finding out where we are going," Lachey said. "Once we know that, we can plan everything out. And this year, after the Michigan game we knew we would be in Phoenix, which is our fourth time out here so it's pretty much routine now. We knew we would be staying at the Princess, that we would be wearing white jerseys in the game and that we would be practicing at Pinnacle. After that, the biggest thing is time."
Ohio State Equipment Truck.