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CSTV's Dog Days

CSTV's Dog Days

Broadcast network reality shows are for wimps. CSTV delivers the "real" in reality. August brings the end of summer, the college football pre-season and Dog Days. Join CSTV on the campuses of the top programs in the country and live the life of a student-athlete trying to make the grade and make the cut in major college football. From wake-up to bed check, Dog Days will take viewers behind-the-scenes and into the faces of the players, coaches, trainers and administrators with unprecedented access to pre-season training camps nationwide.

Glenn Parker
Host Glenn Parker
Glenn Parker recounts the dreaded Dog Days of summer when he and his teammates had to survive preseason's worst nightmares.

Last season, CSTV viewers learned how athletes handle their preseason camps in CSTV's Dog Days, a four-part series focusing on Louisville, Georgia Southern, Mount Union, and Virginia Tech.

The Dog Days are here, and every football player hates them, dreads them and wants them over ASAP. When I was asked to write this column, I procrastinated, and then suppressed any memory of camps recent and not-so-recent. I did not want to relive those days. Now, in retrospect, I can look back and wonder how I ever got myself ready for camp, let alone survived it.

It really all begins for the student-athlete in June. With classes ending for the summer, players head into "break" knowing they must not only be ready for camp but be better than they were last year or face losing their position. This is what drives the senior to run at 6 a.m. every morning... this and the threat of the inevitable conditioning test that will occur sometime at the start of August training camp.

The football player knows many things: He knows that vomiting, cramping and lightheadedness will happen, and he knows that he must work harder than some other player on some other team or face the prospect of getting beat in the season opener by the guy who outworked him.

I, for one, never looked forward to camp in either college or the NFL. But I always wound up enjoying it once I got there. Camp leaves no time for players, except in intervals of 5-15 minutes. Waiting your turn in the taping line, 10 minutes. Waiting for the shuttle to take you to practice or back, 10 minutes. Get to a meeting a little early, there's five minutes. I always had a book with me for those tiny breaks and by the time I became a pro, I would finish 5-10 books before camp was through. Then there is the time spent joking around with the guys and worrying about that day's practice. Will it rain? Is the coach in a good mood? Did some guy miss bed check — forcing all of us to run? Anxiety is the buzzword at every camp, and all the time leading up to them.
There isn't much difference between college and the NFL in terms of the way the day is structured. All teams and coaches have their own ways of doing things, of course, but here is a pretty good idea of how a typical two-a-day camp day is scheduled:

6 a.m.
Wake-up call... not a nice one (picture trash can lids)
6-6:30 a.m.
Clean up, stumble to breakfast
6:30-7 a.m.
Breakfast — all you can eat (though you're usually too nervous to be hungry)
7-8 a.m.
Taping and treatment of injuries (hot tub, ice pool, rehab, etc.)
8-8:30 a.m.
Get dressed and walk to field
8:30-9 a.m.
Pre-practice, special teams
9-11:30 a.m.
Stretching and practice; some will stay longer
Treatment, showers, get dressed for lunch
1-1:30 p.m.
Taping and treatments
1:30-2 p.m.
Get dressed and walk back to field
2-2:30 p.m.
Pre-practice and special teams
2:30-4:30 p.m.
Stretching and practice; again, some will stay longer
4:30-5 p.m.
Treatment, showers, get dressed for dinner
5-6 p.m.
6-6:30 p.m.
Treatments and, finally, free time
6:30-7 p.m.
Special teams meeting
7-7:30 p.m.
Team meeting
7:30-10 p.m.
Position meetings
Free time
11 p.m.
Lights out

As you can see, there is not much time left for thought or anything else.

This time of year, as camps are winding down in late August, things become less physical and more and more mental. The anxiety over camp is replaced by anxiety over the first game, the first test, and the first chance to hit someone you don't know. The coaches are done evaluating talent and are working on the first gameplan. Players are getting used to being in pain all the time again.

All the hard work is about to pay off. The football player is ready to start playing and going after wins.

Glenn Parker was a star collegiate offensive lineman at Arizona. He played 12 years in the NFL with the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and New York Giants. Glenn serves as an analyst for CSTV Football Saturday this season and will contribute regularly to CSTV.com.

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